Estate Sale Book Haul Update: 1 Month After Attending My Best Estate Sale Yet…

It has been one month since the check-in process began for a portion of the books that I purchased from one of the best estate sale book hauls I’ve attended so far this year. You can read more about that sale here. I shipped a total of 497 books to Amazon’s warehouses on 8/18. Out of those 497 books, a little over 80 of them were books that I purchased from thrift stores and the rest were books purchased from this particular estate sale.

My shipment arrived at Amazon’s warehouses on 8/25 and the check-in/receiving process officially began that same day. As soon as the check-in process began, books starting flying off the “shelves” so to speak. The bulk of my sales actually occurred over a 4-day period, with sales slowing to a crawl by Friday (8/29) and picking up again on Sunday (8/31). Once that influx of sales was over, the weeks that followed began to paint a better picture of the ebb and flow of selling books on Amazon.

Before I get into specifics, I should note that the sales I discuss below do not paint the most accurate picture because I wasn’t able to ship all of he books that I purchased. I still have over 150 books from this estate sale haul that arrived at Amazon’s warehouse on 9/25 — exactly one month after the first batch was checked in. Yes, I realize that I waited quite a while to ship those remaining books, but in order to get that first shipment of books out the door and into Amazon’s warehouses as quickly as possible, I knew I had to process this haul into two separate shipments. With the first shipment, my main goal was to send in the most profitable books first (those that I purchased during the first half of the sale) and then try to get through as many of the books from the “box lot” hour as possible. As of today (9/26), all of the books purchased from this estate sale are finally out of my house! 🙂

I sat down to crunch the numbers to get an idea of how well sales are going and to determine if buying books on such a large scale is worth the time. I have come to the conclusion that it is too early to make that type of determination based on 30 days worth of sales. However, if sales stay along the trajectory that they did this past month, I should be profitable by January 2015.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at some numbers and how sales went for the first month…

Estate Sale Totals

Now that all of the books from this haul are out of my house, I finally had the time to sit down and tally the results. Here are the final numbers:

  • Total # of books shipped: 562 (322 of those books were from the $5 box lot hour)
  • Total amount spent: $680
  • Average cost per book: $1.21

I should note that I actually purchased more than 562 books, but after going through and examining each book, only 562 books were worth sending into Amazon. The others have been placed aside into a “donate” pile that I intend to donate to local thrift stores and our Friends of the Library bookstore.

I should further clarify that my numbers are not representative of a typical book sale. These books were purchased from an estate sale filled with medical books priced at $3 per book. You don’t run across these types of private collections too often so I was more than willing to pay that price. I was able to get my average price per book down because I purchased several boxes of books at the end of the day for $5 per box. Under normal circumstances, I would never pay $3 for a book unless that book had a minimum selling price of $25.

Fees & Expenses

My expenses for this haul consisted of more than just the price of the books. It is necessary that I include everything in my calculations for this haul even though some fees (such as the inbound shipping costs) have long since been subtracted from my Amazon payouts.

Here is a list of the additional costs I incurred as a result of this book haul:

  • Inbound shipping costs: $404.64 (average of $0.72 per book)
  • Supplies (boxes, tape, etc): $45.63
  • UPS Pickup: $16.19

As you can see from the numbers above, shipping books to Amazon is expensive — especially when Amazon wants someone like me to ship books to the other side of the country. Books are heavy and when you’re shipping over 700 lbs worth of books, that cost isn’t going to be pretty. Had these books went to warehouses in Phoenix or California, I would have paid under $150. Instead, they went to South Carolina and Virginia. Boo. 🙁

Some of the other supplies I purchased included banker boxes to haul away the 300+ books I purchased towards the end of the sale, an 8-pack of tape, and my favorite sized boxes that are tailor made for me to lift without injuring my back in the process. I also included the cost of two UPS pickups.

What Sales Looked Like After One Month

Here is the screenshot/breakdown of my sales after the first month:

I sold a total of 40 books out of the 400+ books that I shipped last month. I grossed $706.76 for those 40 books (with an average sales price of $17.66 per book) and I netted $462. 18. Unfortunately, I am still in the red and I don’t expect to see any profit until after the holidays and the upcoming textbook season which is in January.

I will be honest and say that I expected to sell more books than I did during that first month, but I also recognize that I’m selling an average of 1 book per day from this haul.

Books That I Sold…

Here are just a few of the books that I sold last month:

 Medical Botany: Plants Affecting Human Health

This book was my highest selling book for the month. Cost = $1.21 and it sold for $107.95. This book was purchased during the first portion of the sale.

The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and Its Applications

This was my second highest sale for the month and this book was also purchased during the first half of the sale. Cost = $1.21 and it sold for $74.95.

A Dictionary of Modern English Usage

This book was my highest sale from the “box lot” hour. Although it is currently listed for $4.15, my copy was sold for $34.73 and went overseas. The buyer has already left glowing feedback because it arrived faster than Amazon estimated. (Side note: If you aren’t already signed up for FBA’s export service to sell your items internationally, I highly recommend that you hop to it! )

The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2000

This book was also purchased during the “box lot” hour. I doubt I would have scanned a book such as this because it isn’t apart of the genres I typically look through when book scouting. This is more along the lines of something that my husband would scan if he’s helping me scout for books. Anyways, this book cost me $1.21 and sold for $14.61.

Takeaways

This book haul did teach me quite a few things about what types of books sell well on Amazon. By far, my best performers in terms of consistent sales were paperback books that were once (or still are) “bestsellers.” I generally wouldn’t even touch a fraction of the genres/titles that I’ve sold. Lo and behold, all of those small sales (anywhere from $8.95 – $11.95 per book) really did add up. Going forward, if I can find these types of books at bag sales where the prices are generally low per book, I will pick them up.

I’m excited to see what the upcoming months have in store. Although I invested a lot of money into this haul, I believe that the payout over the next few months will be worth it. Even as I type this message, I am looking over my sales for the day and I see that I’ve already sold 4 more books from this haul. Sales are slow and steady…and that’s a good thing! 🙂

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I do hope this recap of sales was insightful for those readers who asked me for updates. If you are interested in when I actually become profitable and would like for me to continue updating on the progress of this sale each month, please let me know in the comments section below.