Sourcing Books With Pocket Change

Would you do this for 5 minutes if you could earn $30?

I would. I did.

This past November election was the first time I've ever cast my ballot in 'Early Voting' and when I parked at the courthouse, I decided to stop into our local library across the street to check out their used book offerings. There were new 'Withdrawn' books on the sale table (our library has three shelves in the lobby where discarded and donated books are always on sale, all year long). I browsed for less than 5 minutes, and located these two titles by Big Game Hunter Robert Ruark:

Using my smartphone, I discovered the hardcover was currently listed for sale on Amazon.com for $41.99 and up, while the paperback was listed for $21.99 and up. I checked the library's used book pricing poster on the way: $1 for hardcovers, 50 cents for trade paperbacks. Just $1.50 for both. I paid for those two books at the counter with pocket change and left to go stand in line to cast my vote.

When I listed those books the next day, I priced the paperback at 10% under the lowest price of $21.99 (I set mine at $19.97). So far, so good. But I was disappointed to find out next that my smartphone search in the Amazon store had given me incorrect data on the hardcover book. Instead of the hardcover selling for $41.99, I'd found a hardcover copy from 1966 that was selling for a measly $10.99 and up. Oh well. I posted my copy for $9.97 -- 10% below the competition -- and chalked up my mistake to being in a hurry.

Anyhow, if both sell at those prices, I'll have turned $1.50 into more than $20.00 in net profits after Amazon and the Post Office take their cut.

Why am I rehashing this? It's not to brag. It's simply to counter some folks' comments online that there is no money to be made from selling used books online anymore, and specifically on Amazon. "Too many 'Penny Books' for sale," they say, or "Too much competition." They complain about people scanning and taking the good stuff at Friends of the Library sales. They make excuses for not jumping in and making money buying, listing and shipping used books. Too much work for too little return on investment is their message.

Everyone has an opinion. Not everyone is right. I know from experience -- from this experience I profited from in 5 spare moments, and from dozens of others over the past four years -- bargains and deals and excellent profits are waiting to be picked up for a song. Like I said in the headline, they are available for pocket change.

Granted, you need to know what you're looking for. That's why I wrote "How To Make Easy Money Selling Your Old Used Books on Amazon." It's a good primer (starter ebook and paperback) telling what to look for, what to buy, what to leave behind, and how to find the diamonds in the rough that will put cash in your pocket.

Sure.... you won't get rich buying and selling old used books. But there are still plenty of profits awaiting you. All you need to do is focus and find them.

Finally, think of the future of printed books. With the digital ebook age in full bloom, I can envision a time when good quality used books, manuals, how-to paperbacks and historical research tomes will make even better profits in the future, as publishers are turning to POD (Print On Demand) systems to avert risk of printed bunches of books that don't sell. Good books that you find now and save for a future sale date could bring even bigger returns down the road.

But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe people will quit wanting physical books. You never know. I only know right now, today, that you can still find cheap good books for not a long of money, and people are still willing to pay for them. Yes, you may have to leave them in your inventory for a year, perhaps three years, before they sell. I know; it's happened to me that some books I picked up with I got started back at the end of 2010 have sold just this year. I'd even forgotten that I had the copies in stock. But they sold. And it felt good to make money while knowing I'd made somebody else happy they'd found just what they were looking for online.

If you're just getting started, read my ebook free; it's available to Kindle Unlimited subscribers on Amazon, so you can download it if you are a member and get all the info you'll need for free. You can also look through the posts on this page. There are plenty of Facebook groups that will help you learn about buying and selling old books too. One I really like is "Thrifting For Profit." The members in that group are very supportive of Newbies, and they can even offer advice on taking your bookselling business to new levels by tapping into the Amazon FBA Program (Fulfilled By Amazon) and let Amazon inventory, sell, ship and reward you with profits. The beauty of this is that you can reach the profitable "Amazon Prime" customers.

But for now, I'm content to keep my book business close to home and simple to operate in my spare time. You can too. Don't let anyone discourage you. You can do this. Learn all you can before you burn through your cash, and build your home-based business slow as you grow. Good luck. Now... get out there and make some money with your pocket change!

Update: The paperback copy of "Horn of the Hunter" sold within 3 days of posting it for $19.97. Better yet, about 5 weeks later, the hardcover book sold -- and by that time I'd adjusted the retail selling price upwards to about $20.00 for that book. Deduct Amazon's cut, the cost I paid for both books ($1.50) and USPS Media Mail postage and a large envelope for each shipment, and I cleared a profit of more than $30.00 for just a few minutes of "work" -- and more proof positive that good used non-fiction books, both paperbacks and hardcover copies, can make you money when you know what to look for. Don't let anyone steal your dream of working from home selling used books. You can still find my book on the subject to learn how to get started in this fun, profitable business with minimal investment and practically no risk.