Have you ever bought something for $0.50 that you were able to flip for $50? I have. I have many times. Several of you are used to finding products on the clearance rack at 70% off and being able to flip it on Amazon for 100% ROI, or double your money. Buying something at $0.50 and flipping it for $50 is 7,364% ROI.
That’s meth margins.
Before you think you’ve got to go strolupin’ off into the desert in a dilapidated RV converted into a laboratory, allow me to clarify. I’m talking about books. Yup. Simple, every day, run of the mill books. While you won’t see your ROI above 7,000% all the time, it will happen, and relatively often. If you are sourcing books avidly once a week, I would guess that you could find those kinds of margins monthly.
Let’s concentrate on more “normal” margins. The kind of margins you can get a lot of every day. If you are fully RA, it would be the 50-70% ROI margins. The “that’s pretty good, I’ll take it” margins. You can walk into almost any thrift shop today and find books for under $2 that you can flip for $12. All. Day. Long.
This weekend, you can head out to the nearest yard sale and find a whole box of books that says “$0.50 each” and offer $3 for the whole box. No, really. Do it. They want rid of this stuff. It’s just clutter. It has never even occurred to them that the box of books they just let go for $3 could possibly be worth a couple hundred on Amazon.
How to Find Used Books
I use several sources to find my books. Most of these are easier when using FBAScan with a database in conjunction with a Bluetooth laser scanner. If you haven’t watched my video explaining why I recommend this, you can find the video here. This set up is not a requirement, but it sure makes it easier to scan a large number of books in a short amount of time. My sources include:
- Thrift stores- you can go into any thrift shop at any time and find profitable books. Most have a large quantity of books, so it’s best to have the scanner set up mentioned above, but it is possible to find some money laying around without it if you know what you’re looking for.
- Library book sales- you can go to booksalefinder to locate these sales. This is an excellent source of profitable books, but due to the quantity of books and tough competition, if you don’t have at least a Bluetooth scanner these sales can be discouraging.
- Local runner- if you spend a significant amount of time in a certain location, you should be able to find a helper to go around and find these books for you. I pay my helper $1 for every book she finds that meets my criteria. I simply adjust my buying criteria to take into account her pay. Imagine having several helpers scouring bookshelves for you in multiple locations all across the country! There is an excellent course covering this topic. At the time of this writing, it’s only $99. If you want to build a team to make your money for you, I would recommend you look into it. You can find it here. Don’t be intimidated by the concept. It’s easy and it works.
- MF to FBA arbitrage- several of you have been baffled in the Facebook group when I’ve mentioned that I send 20-50 items per day in to Amazon. Well, here’s my secret. They are 80% books and I find them on Amazon. I search through Amazon looking for used books from MF sellers that I can buy for $1 or less that I can sell FBA for at least $20. I like to stay in the $0.01 range. I will have to pay shipping, which will bring my total to $4-5, but there is still plenty of profit there. This is leveraging the power of FBA. This strategy works especially well for textbooks. College students have a habit of waiting until the last minute to buy their books, and they need them NOW! With Amazon’s Prime Student program, buying MF textbooks to send them back in to FBA is a no-brainer, especially this time of year when demand is low but textbook season is just around the corner. You can search Amazon manually and you will find some of these opportunities, but if you want to do the volume I do and buy 20 books a day, you’re going to need a service like eFlip. It is a tool specially made for this task. It searches Amazon for you and only shows you the relevant results. There is some free training coming up on the best ways to use it. I will be sending out notifications when this training is available.
- Yard sales- as discussed in my previous post, yard sales are a great source of books. Many times, there’s no need for a laser scanner. If you can find community yard sales, it’s a great place to send your local runner.
Now that you’ve got all these books, you need to be familiar with Amazon’s condition guidelines. Listing under the wrong condition can be detrimental to your feedback rating. Let’s take a look at each one.
- New: Just like it sounds. A brand-new, unused, unread copy in perfect condition. The dust cover and original protective wrapping, if any, are intact. All supplementary materials are included and all access codes for electronic material, if applicable, are valid and/or in working condition.
- I don’t care how nice the book looks. Do NOT list under new. First of all, you don’t know where it came from in most instances, so how can you be sure it’s new? Secondly, Amazon WILL NOT share the buy box in the book category. Even the books that I have that are in shrink wrap (video) get listed as Used-Like New.
- Used – Like New: Dust cover is intact, with no nicks or tears. Spine has no signs of creasing. Pages are clean and not marred by notes or folds of any kind. May contain remainder marks on outside edges, which should be noted in listing comments.
- If you use this condition, make sure it shows no signs of wear and looks like it just came off the bookstore shelf.
- Used – Very Good: Pages and dust cover are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine is undamaged.
- This condition should be used if the book appears to be unread, but the cover shows minimal signs of shelf wear or handling.
- Used – Good: All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. May include “From the library of” labels.
- This is where the majority of the books you find will be listed. This category includes wear on the corners of cover, and edges of spine. Also, no matter how nice of condition the book is in, if you can find any writing or highlighting in it, it goes in this category.
- Used – Acceptable: All pages and the cover are intact, but the dust cover may be missing. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting, but the text cannot be obscured or unreadable.
- Amazon provides this category for books that are in poor shape, but still readable and usable. My advice would be to not list in this condition. No matter what you include in the condition field in the listing, the customer will be disappointed with the condition and may file for a return. If you are doing MF to FBA flips and the book arrives in this condition, return it and add that seller to a list of sellers to no longer do business with.
The Bad Side of Books
Remember that most books are more of a long-tail item that may sit for months without selling. The reason it is a good segment to get in to is they are foundational to your business. Once you have a good inventory of books, something will always be selling, no matter the season. Not only that, but the profit margin is so high and the storage fees so low, you can afford to fill up your FBA inventory with books and still be making a killing.
Books do well in August and September. Not just textbooks, but all books. It’s almost like the spike of textbook sales spurs sales of other books for some reason. It’s time to get ready for that spike now. If you want a shot in the arm to your business in August, fill your inventory up with books NOW.
I made a video to show you how a bluetooth scanner works with a database scanning app to make your book sourcing more efficient.
If you have any questions on this subject please ask them in the comments below. If you want to join an awesome group of RV’ers who sell on Amazon to finance their life on the road, come on over to the Facebook group and request to join!