Learn how to build a $10,000 Amazon book business step-by-step in 90 days.
My wife and I spent six days visiting Portland and the surrounding area, and attempted to pay for our entire adventure by sourcing, listing, and shipping books while we were on the road. If you missed the post which outlined our goals for the trip, you can check it out here – it also includes an in-depth look at calculating and understanding your margins when selling books via Fulfillment By Amazon.
Our aim was to source 193 books, at an average list price of $17.50. Our anticipated cost per book was $1.50. And we wanted to ship every book to Amazon’s fulfillment centers to avoid bringing a single book back to Denver with us.
So, how did we do? Let’s take a look at the results:
As you can see, we exceeded our goal to source 193 books by well over 100 books! Our average list price was a bit higher than targeted, but so was our average buy cost. The Portland thrift stores charged between $3 and $9 for the majority of their books (ouch!), but we were able to dilute our average buy cost by sourcing at cheaper locations outside of the city.
Let’s take a closer look at the data to gain some insights from what I would consider to be fairly typical results for us when we source from thrift stores. A few people asked me if I avoid books selling for less than $17-$20, so allow me to address that question first. My AVERAGE list price is usually around $20, but I do purchase lots of books in the $10 range. Even though the margins are lower on cheaper books, if the sales rank is great and the purchase price is cheap enough, I’ll still flip these cheaper books. This would be the “fast nickel” philosophy on these titles, and $10-$12 books are typically easy money at thrift stores. Here’s a detailed look at the list prices for our Portland haul:
As you can see, I have started to avoid books selling for under $8, due to poor margins and increased competition at those lower price points. But that’s the topic for a future blog post. The bell curve in the above chart is fairly typical for thrift store finds. There are lots of $10-$35 books on the shelves, and a smaller number of higher-priced books, coupled with a gem over $100. By selling just a few of the more expensive books, I’ll be able to pay for the entire haul and the rest will be pure profit.
Sales Rank Analysis: Due to the higher prices at the Portland thrift stores, we minimized our risks by being cautious about purchasing higher-ranked books. If I found a book ranked 2.5MM that was selling for $15 from other FBA sellers, I would normally pick it up for a buck or two. Since the costs were $3-$5 on most books, that didn’t make good financial sense on this particular trip, so our average sales rank was a hair better than normal. Here’s how the histogram chart shook out for sales rank:
Based on the 48% rule (from last week’s post), I expect that Amazon will eventually deposit $3,185 into my bank account, after the books have finished selling. If we subtract out the $793 buy cost, that leaves me with a total expected profit of $2,392 – or a 332% return on my investment. And that, my fellow flippers, is how to pay for a trip by sourcing on the go!
Are you interested in doing a bit of sourcing on your next trip? Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way to make the process easier:
P.S. If you ever get the chance to hike the area around Mount St. Helens, it’s well worth the drive!
Howdy! My name is Caleb Roth and I have dabbled in selling books on Amazon for the past decade. In late 2014 I decided to approach my business more seriously, switched completely over to FBA (Fulfilled By Amazon), and haven’t regretted it for a second!