A Different Approach To Capturing
Used Book Buyers

By Joe Waynick
June 10th, 2012

Used book buyers are getting harder to find thanks to Amazon's new "placement" policy.

Although the reasons given make sense, for Amazon, it certainly isn't good news for small sellers who sell used books. Breaking up my FBA shipments from wholesale book dealers doesn't make for efficient or cost effective processing.

Of course, Amazon is going to do what's good for Amazon. After all, it's their marketplace. Profits online now are more difficult to achieve. Tag-a-longs like me have to adapt, or die. This is the book dealers new paradigm.

I choose to adapt.

Rethink And Regroup

After thinking about this latest development, I began looking at the patterns in my sales history in hopes of exploiting a competitive edge. I just may have found it.

Pre-ISBN books require a lot of research. But there's gold in those books!

I noticed that a certain percentage of books I listed as much as three or more years ago just keep selling on Amazon day in and day out. Not a lot mind you, but enough to catch my eye.

Long tail books. You know those titles with huge Amazon sales ranks that nobody wants to list. I get plenty of them in my shipments. They tend to sell mostly to occasional used book buyers, people looking for certain books for nostalgic purposes, or even collectors. Books with high margins that tend to maximize profits online.

Now I'm starting to pay attention.

Advanced Internet Bookselling

I've decided that I want 100,000 long tail used books for sale under roof, right here in my warehouse, within the next 12 months; de-emphasizing FBA in my business model. Even if only a paltry 1% sells monthly, that's still 1,000 sales.

What's nice about that plan is that the long tails tend to have higher prices, at least the ones I intend to keep for my used book buyers will. At $15 gross revenue per sale, that's a nice $15,000 monthly in sales I can count on selling used books online, irrespective of what I do with high turnover books, DVD, CD, and other product lines I carry.

Perhaps I may even morph into one of the out of print booksellers that deal almost exclusively in rare books and not so much of the new and used books online that most booksellers carry.

Dealing with long tails is a bit more involved. Primarily because they're so heavily weighted by pre-ISBN titles. That involves research, so obviously I'm going to need help selling books online that have no ISBN.

Those are nice bread-and-butter sales. It pays the rent and other related overhead; leaving me free to focus on higher margin pursuits. I think this new used book selling strategy will serve my purposes well. Any bookseller about to contemplate FBA should rethink their model before they get in too deep.

Look To The Future

Still, I plan to keep my eye on long-term results and not focus so much on high turnover. Oh, that will still be there. My internal processes that are geared to sell books at Amazon are already fairly well fine tuned to identify and exploit flips and price gaps in the lower ranking books.

It's the long tail that I've neglected. Now it's time to leverage the needs of used book buyers in that segment of the market left to the more exclusive second hand bookseller. It's a natural extension to my ability to sell used books online.

Learning how to sell on Amazon is a never ending process. They keep changing things because the market keeps changing.

You really can't blame them, although I admittedly get a little annoyed. But that's life.

By adapting to those changing market conditions I'll continue to make money selling books, as well as other lucrative product lines.

Scaling an Internet Bookselling business has unique challenges of its own. Really good profits can be achieved, or massive losses if you're not careful.

Here's to being careful.

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