A Quick Lesson in Trusting Your Instincts As a Bookseller…

Several weeks ago I attended an estate sale in search of profitable books to sell on Amazon. I had never attended an estate sale for the sole intent of purchasing books, but this instance has since since changed the way I look at books at estate sales. Come take a journey with me back in time. There’s even a nice little #BOLO somewhere below. ūüôā

Estate Sale #1: Scan and You Shall Miss…

This was the first estate sale that got me hooked on books. I had a pretty overwhelming month (in June), but I made time to go to at least one estate sale. I chose this one for¬†two reasons: 1.) It was advertised as being “MASSIVE” with hundreds of new in package items that the owner never opened — and bought multiple sets of, and 2.) because the photos showcased massive floor to ceiling book cases filled with books — books that were owned by a doctor.

There were a LOT of books. In fact, there were so many books that I actually hired a babysitter for a few hours that day so that I could attend the estate sale without my daughter. I knew that I was going to do some serious damage shopping and therefore, I could not have her strapped to me and lift loads of books at the same time.

…did I mention that I also had to drive 66 miles to get to the sale?¬†…yeah, it was THAT serious.

Once I was inside the home and going through the bookshelves, I didn’t bother using my scanner like the other booksellers there. There were several other people scanning and I couldn’t afford to waste time (…I had never been away from my daughter so I was already uneasy and knew that I had at least an hours drive back), so I started picking up titles that I believed would be good sellers. Unfortunately, I did wind up with quite a few duds in certain niches, but there were also some gems in the mix.

That following morning I separated my book purchases into two piles: books with a barcode and books without a barcode. I like to believe that I have a pretty good intuition about books that sell well when I’m unable to scan them, but I was pretty bummed about the bulk of my barcoded books being duds.

Just before I started to throw myself a pity party, I found this beauty in the mix:


I honestly don’t know why I picked it up. It looked pretty cool and the house was also filled with tons of Star Wars collectible toys, so I figured the two might be related. I still don’t know if the two are related — AND¬†the book is entirely in French — but I’m SO glad that I did pick it up.

My initial research showed that it was selling for over $250 in used condition on Amazon.com, but I also decided to check eBay too. Although it had sold for less money on eBay, I felt that it would do better on eBay given that it appears to be a collectible book and eBay just felt like the better marketplace to list it.

It took a little over a month for me to actually do something with the book, (…yeah I know…shame on me) but I finally listed it today. I decided to forgo the auction route and just list it for 30 days with a best offer. If you didn’t know, I LOATHE “Best Offers.” They are the pits and I stopped using them months ago because I kept getting buyers who treated it like it was a layaway plan for the things they wanted, but couldn’t pay for at the moment.

…but I digress…

I listed this book at $225 with the option of “Best Offer,” however, I set my best offer criteria to accept no less than what the copy¬†before it had sold for. I also set my criteria to auto accept any offer over $165.

It took about 50¬†minutes¬†before I heard my phone “Cha-Ching!” It just so happens that it was for this book which sold for…


I’m excited that it sold — and quickly at that. I hope that the buyer got a great deal — and if they turn around and sell it for more — more power to them for doing what I do every day. ūüôā

Total investment: $1.00

Profit after shipping, fees, and cost of goods: $154.49


Moral of the story: Trust your instincts, not your scanning app!

Everyone with a scanner missed out on this book. Three people had already scanned the bookshelf where I¬†found this book, but no one bothered to take it because its barcode wasn’t in the Amazon database and therefore it just seemed like another dud.