How I Started Selling Books Online

By Joe Waynick
October 29, 2013

I’m often asked how I got started selling books online.

So I thought it’d be a good idea to share a few interesting stories about how my business began.

Back in 2005 I was looking for the best home based business opportunity I could start and earn a living.

It took me nearly a year to carry out some fairly in-depth research.

I spent countless hours online poking around websites, camping out in public libraries, and buying piles of books off the Internet from bargain booksellers about all sorts of small business ideas and opportunities.

Suddenly, like a bolt of lightning an idea struck me in the head – smack between the eyes!

I realized that I was buying most of my research books from small online stores that sell books. I thought, "Why not try selling books online myself?" That lead to more research – on how to build a successful online book selling business.

I learned that all kinds of books can be successfully sold online, including new age books and products, rare automotive books, and war comic books, just to name a few. Heck, I could even sell educational books like college text books if I wanted.

My First Steps

The very first thing I did was take stock of all the books I currently owned. Most of those books I hadn’t read in years, and was unlikely to ever read again.

I looked them all up on Amazon and discovered I actually owned a few books selling on line that were quite valuable. It occurred to me that I could make lots of money quick just by selling what I already had.

After I sold my first diamond I suddenly realized how profitable selling books online could be.

For example, 15 years earlier, I bought a book for $15.95 about investing in California trust deeds. Sadly, I never even read it. The book simply sat on my bookshelf all those years without me giving a single thought to selling books online.

You can imagine my surprise when I looked it up on Amazon and discovered that it was selling for $175! I listed the book online and it sold five days later. It was in that moment that I was bitten by the online used book selling bug and I’ve been selling on Amazon ever since.

Taking The Next Step

Needless to say, I sold several other books at prices ranging from $7 to $20. I could hardly believe how easy it was to sell used books online and make so much money.

But I ran out of books pretty quick. The next thing I had to do was learn as much as I could about book scouting if I wanted to continue selling books online.

I soon discovered that used book buyers had very particular tastes. I began to develop a sharp eye for unique and unusual non-fiction books because non-fiction sold for the most money.

You may be wondering, "What are the most profitable books to buy for resale?" I learned that the best products to promote weren't always ones that I personally liked. Keeping the ultimate buyer in mind is certainly the most reliable indicator on which books to purchase.

I spent a lot of time at estate sales, Goodwill thrift stores, and library book sales. In my first month I was able to buy hundreds of books for 50c to $3.00 each, and sell them for $5 to $50 each.

Ramping It Up

Over the next few months I became a fairly skilled book scouter and continued selling used books online like there was no tomorrow.

To help me increase my sales I purchased a pocket PC scanner so I could start scanning bar codes on the back of books.

This made my search for more books to sell online much easier.

Book scouting with a laser scanner is like having an automated profit package in your pocket!

You’ll find that the best barcode scanners are lightweight, provide a clear non-glare display, and grab pricing data from the Internet in less than one second. These devices are fantastic for online used book sellers who want to work fast.

Armed with this new tool, my income continued to grow and I knew that selling books online would be my lifelong passion. And it certainly has been ever since.

The Rest Of The Pieces

Starting a small home-based business is not trivial and soon I had to start thinking about integrating computer systems into my operation. As orders came in it wasn’t long before I needed inventory management software to list my books online and accurately track sales.

If I wanted to sell items on Amazon I had to automate my fulfillment processes as well. That meant getting an online postage subscription and buying postage scales to speed up packaging and shipping.

Automating this part of the business made selling books online a snap. Orders come in and I had everything I need to quickly and efficiently service my customers. That makes life pretty easy indeed.

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