What To Sell: BOOKS part 2

In the previous Picking post we talked about why reselling books through Amazon.com is an easy way to bring in some extra dough. We also mentioned some of the places to find books to sell. Today I want to give you a bit more insight into how to maximize your book picking practice.

Most of these books hold more value as potential recyclable paper than as publications for sale.

With no prior experience selling books on Amazon, one might think that the best books for picking are all the best sellers and popular book, many of which have been made into popular movies. These are the books that have sold millions of copies, many at a full retail prices hitting up to $29.95. Logically, these should be easy books to make a few bucks with. Wrong!

The problem is over saturation. With millions of copies of these books currently in circulation, there are thousands of second-hand booksellers on Amazon competing to sell their copy. This competition drives the asking prices down... way down. Often times it drives the price to a penny for the book. I'll devote another blog post soon to "Penny Books" and how large sellers can squeeze tiny profits from these sales (hint: it's the shipping charges).

Take a look at the Amazon page for The Da Vinci Code. There are over 5000 merchants offering used copies of this book! Hundreds of these folks are selling this book for just 1 cent. Heck, some of them are offering this book at a loss when you factor in the Fulfilled By Amazon Free Shipping. And this is just for the hardcover edition.
Trust me, you don't want to get into the penny book game. You will lose.

With the exception of newly released Best Sellers, you are rarely going to find a popular book that you can squeeze any real profits out of. There are just too many copies available. This doesn't necessarily mean that you should only pick rare, obscure books. I'm just saying that your first edition of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants ain't worth squat. Sorry.

So what books are worth picking? And how do I know at a glance if a book will make me a profit? I don't. But my iPhone does. I use some general guidelines when deciding which books are worth investigating, and then I let a scanning app give me the pertinent information. From this info, such as lowest price currently offered and sales rank, I can decide if this here book is indeed worth picking.

The general categories of books that might have higher resale values include:

  • Textbooks and unused workbooks
  • Teacher's books (not textbooks, but books on teaching and such)
  • New age books (this includes yoga, mediation, and books by any "guru")
  • Art and photography books. Also books on art criticism
  • Cookbooks
  • How-To books
  • History books
  • Transportation books (motorcycles, boats, trains, etc.)
  • Sports books
  • Audiobooks on CD
  • Best sellers from the past 12 months, another older is likely already over saturated
  • Any books published by a University
  • Any books from smaller, independent publishers.
These last two categories are crucial. A lot of books from school presses and small publishing companies are on very specific topics. This gives them a limited appeal in the brick-and-mortar thrift store context, but can make them quite valuable when available to a global market on the internet. 

Looking up info on every book you see isn't very practical and can be downright discouraging. By narrowing your vision you'll be more likely to find the gold in the shelves with less effort. There are always exceptions to the list above, but if you pay attention to what types of books your able to sell, and for how much, your eye will soon be drawn to the cream of the crop when you're out picking.

So now you know where to find books you can resell on Amazon, which books are likely to bring you resale riches and which will get you little more than papercuts. 
Tune in next post, where we'll talk about how to use your scanned book data to decide which books to pick. 


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