Sourcing Book Sales For FBA: I Was Outclassed By The Pros, But I Learned And Have A Plan

In this post I want to detail my experience attending my first library books sale. Even though I am an experienced FBA seller, I got bitch slapped so to speak. I did have some winning moves, but didn’t make the money that the experienced book sellers were.

I want to cover both what I did wrong and what I need to improve and what I did right that the book sellers probably didn’t know ( thanks to my FBA sourcing experience)

Background

I am an experienced FBA seller that generally sources from Walmart and Big Lots via retail arbitrage ( RA) that has always sold a few books here and there but that was a small part of my business.

Side note: I generally buy local books from college students and this tells how I do it.

How To Flip Local College Textbooks

With the recent changes to Amazon with restrictions and suspensions , I have decided to move away from sourcing at big box retailers and basically only source via wholesale along with book selling.

The logic behind this is that both wholesale and books seem to be safer than general RA right now. Setting up wholesale account and wholesale in general is boring and I need my RA fix ( and income while switching over from RA to wholesale).

Book sourcing takes care of both of these.

Side note: When it comes to OA book flips, ie buying for MF sellers on Amazon and sending them back to sell on Amazon FBA, I use Tactical Arbitrage. This is the only real OA I am doing right now.

Tactical Arbitrage

And I have a special bulk list I have created that take about 3 days to run, that looks for specific “ scholarly” books.

Tactical Arbitrage Scholarly Bulk Souring List 

The Book Sale

I had decided that I was going to a local library honey hole that I have to source some books. I made the mistake of not know the library hours and it ended up being closed when I arrived and wouldn’t open for over 2 hours of when I arrived.

So I continued to another library and found some good books but decided to go to another town that I had seen via a Google search that was having a book sale that was starting today at 3:00 PM ( Thursday)

I actually went to several other place before hand and my cell battery was nowhere near being fully charged. ( epic fail on my part)

About 2 PM I started to head toward the library sale and turned my phone off and had it on the charger

Sourcing hint: putting your phone in airplane mode will allow it to charge 2x as fast and turning it off with charge it 3x-4x as fast

This didn’t help due to the short drive and I ended up sitting in the library and trying to charge my phone.

10 minutes before the sale was to start, I headed to the basement where I found a line and a huge crowd.

 

Sourcing Book Sales For FBA

I wasn’t expecting this for this size town.

I saw guys with Dell X51 PDAs and boxes and bags.

I started to think that I my be out of my league at this point.

Finally they opened the doors and how best do I explain this? Ever see the running with the bulls?

book arbitrage

The “real book sellers” knew right where to go.

No biggy. I am a smart FBA guy. I can handle this, They aren’t as smart as me.

Everything was marked and all the money book categories had a “real book seller” scanning it already by the time I was able to get in.

I looked for an open spot to start scanning.

I saw the business books were open and went over there.

I looked down and saw the America 2020 book.

I didn’t even scan this.

Even I know this is always a buy.

 

A few seconds later, the guy I am going to call Mr. A ( for asshole) , showed up and basically pushed me out of the way. At one point I thought he was hanging over my shoulders.

(^^^^^^^^^ Mr. A and his horde of books.  He did very well this day.)

Obliviously I was dazed and confused and he was experienced. ( other wise we may have had an issue with him trying to scan over me)

He was using a Dell PDA with the whole Amazon catalog downloaded on it. He didn’t need wifi.

I was using Scoutify with my Bluetooth scanner because it is way faster than the Amazon seller app, but I was still at a disadvantage.

I couldn’t scan fast enough. The “real book sellers” were blowing through all the boxes and I was getting discouraged.

I sort of just wandered around. Scanning a book here and there but it was hard to even move around in the crowd.

Not going well.

I wanted to at least make a little profit to cover my time and learn what I needed to do the next time I go to one of these.

My Weaknesses

First thing I need to do is get me a PDA to scan with. I actually had one a couple of years ago but used it a couple times unsuccessfully ( the scanner card kept falling out and I had trouble interrupting the non live data)

Side not: I just ordered a Dell X50 PDA and a CF Socket Laser scanner instead of the SD one I had used before ( note if I had kept my old one, adding Velcro to the card would take care of the issue)

Here is the details of choosing the PDA and lasers cards http://www.scoutpal.com/db/slotchoices.htm

The service I am going with is ScoutPal ( what I used before) for $9.95 a month

http://www.scoutpal.com/

Next I need to address the fact that I honestly didn’t know that the sale was happening or planned on going until I happened to Google the library website just prior to going out.

There are actually website that post these type of sales. I am sure that not every sales shows up on here, but it is worth looking at.

Here is one site: http://www.booksalefinder.com/

So I don’t actually have that many weakness to fix but while  I was outclassed but I did pull a few tricks out of my sleeves

What I Did Right ( Thank You FBA)

First I hit the “classics fiction” area. No real book seller looks there because fiction is a no-no in the book selling world.

But actually many of the “classic fiction” are required reading for college and high school classes. Some of these are profitable.

I picked up a couple of books here. Score one for me!

Next I walked over to the psychology area. Every book scanner had already been there and there was actually another scanner going through them at the same time. I was literally going through his leftovers.

I saw this book and it didn’t have a bar code. ( not a bad find for $.50)

This is a biggy here. The book scanners only look at books that have bar code.

Actually funny thing is that when I hook up my Bluetooth scanner, my phone won’t allow me to enter numbers via the keyboard until I turn off the Bluetooth scanner.

My quick work around was to use the AZ scanner and use the “flow” image scanner that it uses to “see” the book and find it on AZ.

( this could be a big advantage if I use a PDA and have my phone ready to do an image search of the books with the AZ scanner)

None of the other sellers were doing that. You would have to be selective and have an idea the book is worth scanning and not do this on every book.

It would also help when a tag is covering the bar code.

Or just type in the ISBN if that is faster)

My proudest find was some DVDs.

I can’t sell DVD’s on Amazon but I do know that I can trade them in for Amazon gift cards.

I saw 2 DVD’s in the homeschooling/textbook section. Every book scanner had already worked this section and there wasn’t anything to be found. Well nothing but these 2 DVDs.

I scanned them and saw they were selling for about $40 new an Amazon.

That is a good sign that Amazon might be taking trade ins on these. So I opened up my AZ buyers app ( not the seller scanning app) and scanned the 2 DVDs. One said trade in up $19 ish and the other $14 ish.

The DVD’s were $2 each, so I could buy these, trade them in and make about $20 ish on these.

None of the book scanner were thinking about doing this!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Was It Worth My Time?

So I spent about 1 hour in total wandering around the sale. Most of which I was watching, not really scanning.

So how did I do?

Well I spent $12 total  ( $ 8 books and $4 DVDs) and the books came to $106 profit

Then I got  $27.88 ($12.98 and $14.90) trade in for the DVD’s ( one was less because it was not new)

So for 1 hour, I made about $ 125 profit

Not killing it like the pros were, but not shabby for 1 hour of work and learning.

Takeaways

First I need to have better equipment, which is have already ordered. I am getting a Dell X50 with the laser scanner for $59 and resubscribing to ScoutPal.

Next I am going to start looking the book sale websites to plan possible sourcing trips.

I will make sure my equipment is fully charged and use my cell phone to visually search books that the other people skip over.

I will arrive early and get to the better sections first.

I will keep my eyes open for DVD’s that I can trade in to make a risk less profit.

Your Takeaways

Books are about the safest category right now on Amazon to source for.

The ROI is still very high on books.

If you miss the rush of doing RA, these sales could give you the fix you need.

If you go to these sales, be prepared with the right equipment.

Realize that there will be someone pushy and rude people ( Mr. A)  trying to grab everything for themselves. ( think Black Friday )

And finally, think like an FBA seller, not a bookseller to find the hidden profit the other guys miss.

How To Figure Amazon Monthly And Long Term Storage Fees

The process of figuring Amazon storage fees is quite simple and only requires some basic math and dimensional information supplied on Amazon product pages.

I will show how to figure it and then show some tools to make it easier.

Cubic Dimensions

Amazon charges storage fees based on a rate per cubic foot.  A cubic foot is 1728 cubic inches ( 12” x 12” x 12”) .  I put this in inches because the dimensions listed on Amazon product pages are in inches and generally we are dealing with less than a cubic foot on most products.

If you scroll down to the Amazon product page, you can find the product dimensions in the product details section.

In this case, the dimensions are 10” x 9.7” x 10”

To calculate the cubic foot, you take base x width x height ( in inches) and divide that by 1728.

So in this case, we take 10 x 9.7 x 10 and divide that by 1728.

970/1728 = .56 cubic foot

Amazon Storage Fees

After we had the cubic dimension, we simple take that times the rate per cubic foot that Amazon is charging for storage.

There are a few different rates that you will be looking at.  There is the monthly storage fee for both standard and oversize and there is a normal monthly rate and a Q4 storage rate for each of the size categories.

We also can use this to figure long term storage fees ( LTSF).  We simply use the same cubic dimension and either the 6 month storage fee rate or the 12 month storage fee rate.

Amazon

Note these fees are changing March 2017

Tools

Amazon actually has a webpage that has a calculator for this

https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200627230

The issue with this is that you have to search the Amazon product page for the dimensions and then  manually enter them into the Amazon fee calculator page

My developed a Chrome extension that automatically does this at a click of a button.

I have it up on the Chrome Store for a monthly fee

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/fba-storage-fee-calculato/fpjelcpobeikplgdhkpdnlkdiaapkekh

I also have it up on Gumroad for a one time fee

https://gum.co/LxLgc

How To Figure Amazon Monthly And Long Term Storage Fees

Uses

You can use these fees to help make sourcing decisions, make decisions on what products to have removed and to time when to send products in to avoid excessive Amazon storage fees.

Creative Market: Sometimes The Best Tools For Merch Are Free

Hey everyone! Ken here, with my first official post on this blog!

As more and more people get their accounts approved, the Merch By Amazon world will continue to be more competitive. Jason and I both have successful shirts on this platform with nothing but text on them. I also have a couple with text and a simple clipart image. That method does work, but at some point it won’t be enough. What you should be doing now is positioning yourself with better designs. Have a design that sells consistently every month? GREAT! Don’t stop there. Keep it Live, and put up another version, sharpen the look, try different fonts, gradients, even give it that “weathered” look that is trendy.

Enter Creative Market. This site has a TON of stuff on it. Stock Photos, Graphics, Templates, Themes (HTML/CSS/WordPress etc.) Fonts & Add-Ons. There are always new things popping up, and you should be constantly looking to upgrade your tool belt.

Many of you are going to read this and only apply it to designing shirts via Amazon. That’s fine, but that’s only a small piece of the big puzzle. There are plenty of Print-On-Demand (POD) sites out there. Use these items on mugs, tote bags (you know the ladies love a solid tote!), pillows, whatever! People are killing it out there on Shopify with these types of solutions.

Here’s where I’ll slide in my disclaimer, to save the blog some potential grief. Make sure when you are downloading this content and using it for personal/commercial use, you are allowed to. Failing to look and/or give a shit, can result in banning of your account(s) or other legal action(s).

Here’s an example of a great quality, free font, fully legal for Commercial Use: Gineva Font

Browse their selection and something might just jump out at you. Might be a font, might be a theme, that’s up to you!

Feel free to connect with me on the Facebook Group or reach out to me directly HERE!