Used Bookstores Charge Entrance Fees to Book Sales

By Joe Waynick
May 20, 2011

Failing used bookstores are an unfortunately reality of business. When such a tragic event occurs, the store generally holds a going out of business sale.

Typical prices are $1 for paperbacks and $2 for hardcovers.

That's just a guideline, and stores in your area may have a different pricing structure altogether.

Always be on the lookout in your local newspaper, booksellers’ network groups, and Book Sale Finder for folding businesses because you never know when a golden opportunity might fall right into your lap.

Used Bookstores Presale Events

Frequently, used bookstores will hold a special "presale" event the day before the sale opens to the general public. Sometimes, the presale is held just hours before the public is allowed into the store.

During the presale event you can find practically new books for sale cheap. You can also find signed and rare books and presales will often have little to no competition from other booksellers.

The catch to the presale is that there's an entrance fee booksellers must pay to attend the sale that can range anywhere from $25 to $100. Even if the presale is only for a couple of hours the fee applies.

Paying an entrance fee to a presale is probability one of the smartest things booksellers can do.

The reason is because many bookstore owners realize that a large percent of buyers attend the sale are Internet booksellers.

Thus they've taken a page from library book sales and are starting to hold an exclusive presale to those willing to pay a fee prior to the free public sale.

Are The Fees "Fair"?

I've heard many booksellers grumble about how unfair entrance fees used bookstores charge to attend presales. I say that's nonsense! It's a simple business decisions that booksellers must make prior to paying the fee.

If booksellers believe they can buy enough to sell books on Amazon and cover the cost of the fee then they should pay the fee. If not, they shouldn't. Selling used books just isn't that hard to do.

Competition will dictate how pervasive presale fees become. If other bookstore owners see that the fees bring in little or no additional income while suppressing turnout for the sale, the fees will go away.

Going Out of Business Case Study

I went to a local going out of business sale where there were about 50,000 books up for grabs. They had a presale day and charged $20 admission to anyone wanting to attend and buy used books.

Hardcovers were $2 and paperbacks were $1. I gladly paid the fee because I knew it would thin the herd quite a bit.

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To my astonishment there were absolutely no members of the general public at the presale and there were only two, count'em, TWO other dealers present and only ONE of them had a scanner.

I was in book scouter's heaven!

I bought 125 books in about three hours for an average of $1.50 each, which I listed for over $1,500. So I say to used bookstores, "Bring on the fees."

I would have happily paid $100 for such an opportunity.

In fact, I have paid $100 just to get into used book sales one hour earlier than the general public.

At once such sale I bought 75 books worth nearly $1,200 at $1 each in that extra hour.

I went on to buy another 40 books over the next two hours after the doors were opened to the general public and the masses descended upon the sale.

Unwitting Accomplice

It's my opinion that used bookstores that charge a fee to presale events become your silent partner.

The fee discourages serious competition and clears the field for you to make a killing with your PDA barcode scanner. Once you've identified the cream of the crop with your barcode scanner you're free to use your knowledge to find antique and rare books.

This stacks the odds in your favor as a serious and knowledgeable online bookseller. Inexperienced sellers and the general public won't pay the fee. Consequently, there is usually little competition at the sale.

That isn't always the case, but now that you're armed with this information, you can be ready to act when the situation arises. Acting quickly and decisively will help you increased your home-based business profits online.

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