To Pick or Not To Pick

In our previous two posts, we've talked about where to find books to resell on, and what categories of books generally will net you bigger profits. Today I'm going to discuss my procedure for determining if a book is worth picking. To illustrate this process, I randomly chose a book that I recently picked and sold. I do not endorse, nor condemn, the contents of Clean & Simple Scrapbooking - The Sequel by Cathy Zielske. In fact, other than to inspect the condition of the pages, I didn't even read one word of the book itself. I did, however, make about $10 profit reselling a picked copy.

I'm perusing the bookshelves at my local thrift store and I see this book. It's a "How-To" book from a small publisher, so right there it fits into two of my general categories for a book worth investigating. The original retail price is $19.95, and it seems to be in excellent condition with no markings on the cover or pages. I've got high hopes for this one.

I use my iPhone to scan the barcode on the back of the book. I often use either the Amazon app (which was free), or the iBookSeller app (cost me $3). I like the iBookSeller app, because it not only gives me the lowest current New and Used prices for this book on Amazon, it also gives me the Bestseller Rank. If there is ever a problem scanning the barcode, I'll just enter the ISBN number manually. It's right there above the barcode.

It has been less than a minute since I first spotted this book on the shelf and I already know that the lowest price that is currently being asked on Amazon is $16. The thrift store is selling this book for only $3, so if I were to resell it on Amazon priced at the current lowest price, I stand to make $13! Oh yeah!

I also know that this book has a Best Sellers Rank (formerly known as Sales Rank) of # 479,593. While that might not initially sound very promising, keep in mind that there are over 10 million books ranked by Amazon. So, even with a ranking near half a million, this book is still near the top, rank wise. In my past experience, a competitively priced book rank below 1,000,000 will usually sell within a month or so, often much faster. 

So it looks like Clear & Simple Scrapbooking - The Sequel is getting the green light. I plunk down my $3 and take my book home. After carefully checking the interior and cover for any damage, I list it on my Amazon merchant account for $15, a full dollar below the current lowest price.

6 days later I get an email informing this book has sold. I ship the book, confirm the shipment on Amazon, and the money is put into my payments account for later disbursement into my bank account.

I wish I had simply just made $12 profit, but I still have to factor in Amazon's fees. Plus, there are shipping charges that I get credited with from Amazon as well as the actual shipping fees I have to pay to the Post Office. All said and done, I made approximately $10 with this book. Not bad.

The entire process probably took me about 20 minutes, including researching, listing, packaging, and shipping the book. I enjoyed my time searching for books in the thrift store, so I don't really consider that time a liability to be factored against my profit calculations. Everything is further complicated by the fact that I rarely list or ship books one at a time. 

I'll be dedicating future posts to some of specific topics mentioned here, like Best Sellers Rank, Amazon fees and shipping costs, and the various outlooks on putting a dollar amount your time picking. I hope this gives you a sense of how easy it is to make some side-cash selling books on Amazon.

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