How Do I Identify Books Worth Reselling?

May 22, 2016 § Leave a comment

Since starting my online bookselling business over five years ago, I have always relied on a simple Internet lookup to determine if a book was worth purchasing for resale. Initially, I would call my wife (from my cell phone) at home, read ISBN’s to her, and have her look them up on the Internet. She would then tell me the online selling price for the book on various marketplaces and I would decide whether the book was worth buying. I soon opted for a lookup service that would run on my web enabled cell phone. This got me the results I was looking for in a much shorter period and did not use up all my cell phone minutes. Of course it did cost me another $40 per month to pay for the lookup service and the unlimited web access for my cell phone, but I felt it more than paid for itself because it allowed me to look up many more books in the same time period I spent reading numbers to my wife before, and I was finding more good books.In the past year or so, scanners have become increasingly popular. Not only do they eliminate the need to type ISBN’s for books having bar codes, they interface with programs that operate from an updatable database that do not rely on Internet access. This means that instead of scanning and waiting for results to come back from a web-based program, you scan and almost immediately get your results from a database residing in your PDA. The drawback to this system is that if a book does not have an EAN barcode, you cannot scan it and must still type the ISBN in.So, have I made the change yet? Yes, and I am not alone. Personally, I enjoy typing the ISBN into my cell phone and watching it churn out a result. It is a lot like putting a quarter into a slot machine and watching the reels spin while waiting to see if you won a jackpot. At the same time, I recognize the advantages of having a scanner and encourage anyone that sells books online for a living to make the investment as the time saved using one would be better spend doing other things. In fact, even though I only sell books online as a supplemental income, I purchased a scanner because I would rather spend the time doing more productive things.A point I would like to emphasize here is that having or using a scanner to look up books is not required to be a successful online bookseller. I managed to be quite successful, albeit only part-time, without one, and I would not want to discourage anyone considering online bookselling to think they need to put up a bunch of money to get started. I have seen my son at a book sale outperform all the people with scanners. He did it because even though it only takes a few seconds to scan a book, get the results, read them, and make the buy vs. pass decision, all of these things do take some time and the scanner occupies one of your hands all the time. He runs his hands down the rows of books, sees one he thinks is good, grabs it and puts it in his basket, and is already going for the next one. I watched him fill seven shopping carts with books before anyone with a scanner had even identified 25 books to keep. Of course, he was at a university library book sale and there was very little firewood on their tables, so he was not likely to find too many losers. The books he purchased that day cost him a little more than $500 and within three days, one of the books in that lot sold for $750. Since then, the books he bought that day have profited him over $6,000, and while his success as an online bookseller is better than most, he has never used a scanner to scout for books.I think the decision regarding whether or not to buy a PDA and scanner is up to each online bookseller. At some point, it makes more sense to have the ability, but when first starting up an online bookselling business it might make more sense to use a web-enabled cell phone or just call someone sitting at home on a computer to look them up for you.


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