Library and bag sales are some of the best sources you'll find. Libraries collect donations every day from the public. Some libraries have their own bookstores operated by the Friends of the Library (FOL). The FOL is usually a team of volunteers who sort books, organize sales, and provide other resources to benefit the libraries. The FOL gathers and sells books and encourages FOL memberships to raise funds. They help the libraries by ordering supplies as well as contributing to community programs. They are valuable contributors to the community. I encourage you to support your local libraries, buy books, and pay for memberships. It all goes to a great cause.
Libraries organize sales to sell their donations. Sales often have great prices - anywhere from 25 cents to a few dollars per book. You can find many of these sales on www.booksalelibrary.com and www.booksalefinder.com. A good approach is to check each site and add the upcoming sales to your calendar. We recommend using a calendar to automatically repeat the local monthly sales. We personally use Fantastical 2, Google Calander, and iCloud Calendar.
Other notes - Check booksalefinder.com at least once a week and update your calendar. There are sales that pop up out of the blue. Sale dates can change, so if you are using a repeating calendar, double-check those sales dates to be sure. Map out which sales you want to visit ahead of time. If you are visiting multiple sales, keep track of your timing to anticipate when you should arrive and leave a sale. Often times there are multiple sales in a day and you will see many of the same sellers shopping at these events. If you can get an understanding of their schedule and stay a step ahead, this can help you have a competitive advantage.
Librarians and volunteers are doing a service for the community. Their goal is to help raise money for the library and provide community programs. Volunteers have retired professionals with great stories to tell. Engage and talk to them when possible. Be as helpful as possible and If the topic arises, don’t be afraid to tell them that you buy and sell. There is always a possibility you can create a friendly relationship. They may even tell you the best times to visit or let you look at the new books before anyone else.
All of this is optional, be we’ve found it to be helpful at busy sales.
This all goes a long way. You want to build positive relationships and the best way to do this is by being polite and respectful.
You will encounter competition out in the field, but there is no need to be intimidated. There is no need to be aggressive or standoffish. Booksellers are usually friendly people who simply enjoy working for themselves. You'll notice that booksellers come and go. Bookselling takes a while to learn and there is a large attrition rate. At the end of the day, every "competitor" is a potential ally. It's okay to talk about business-related topics with the other sellers (maybe avoid telling them your sources). There is a lot to be learned by talking to others and it doesn't hurt to exchange a few business tips.
Yes, it can be, but it is not recommended for beginners. Online arbitrage (OA) is the process of buying Merchant Fulfilled books on Amazon and selling them for a higher price back on Amazon. This approach takes advantage of the "Prime Bump" (Prime book premium prices). There can be a noticeable margin between the MF and FBA prices. This is where the opportunity lies. There are software tools to find books with these price differences. Eflip and Zen Arbitrage are popular choices. The software helps you find these books using search filters. Some of the filters include:
For example, you may select filters to search for books with an average rank of 500,000 or below, with an MF price below $15 and the lowest FBA offer above $45. If the software finds a book like this, in theory, you could buy the book for $15 and sell the book on Amazon for $45. As you can see this is a completely different kind of sourcing.
The reason it is not recommended for new sellers is that there are a lot of factors involved. It requires experience and understanding of how books sell. There is a large amount of startup capital required for this model to work. Rather than spending 0.50-$1 for a book, you are averaging around $10 and up for each book. At a cost of $10 per book, there is an increased risk. If the book drops in value, you may lose money quickly. You also need to consider the book condition. It's possible that the book may be in worse condition than described. You need to take a chance and trust that your source will deliver a good product. Before I completely scare you away from this option, it should be said that there is a lot of money to be made in OA. People have built great businesses this way.
A calendar can be your best friend for planning routes. Whether it's documenting when sales are scheduled or when you plan to source, using a calendar is the best way to stay organized. Here are some tips for best utilizing your calendar.
Note: We use Google Calendar, Fantastical 2, and Slack to schedule sourcing.