How to manage expectations as a new Amazon seller

Welcome back to Book Flipper University! During our last episode, we went over how to use your sourcing technology, and we did a test run on a home bookshelf. Before we head out into the field, we want to go through a few FAQ’s to help you get a good understanding of the most common questions that pop up and set some expectations for sourcing. 

Q: Where should I get started?

A: We recommend three key places to start sourcing: your home, thrift stores, and local libraries. At home, brush the dust off those old textbooks and go through your book collection to see if any would be profitable to part with. All it takes is one good find to start paying back some of your initial supplies costs and get you excited to continue scouting for books. 

Next, try your local thrift stores. Thrift stores typically have several shelves of books, and those books tend to be inexpensive. Plus, employees are unlikely to have a problem with you scanning books as they’re happy to be selling them. Keep in mind that because thrift stores are one of the easiest and least expensive places to start, other book flippers start there too. You may get to a thrift store and find the books are picked over. As we get further into Book Flipper University, we’ll teach you what to look for and how to go where others don’t. But for now, the thrift store is still an excellent place to begin.

Finally, check out your local libraries. Most libraries have annual or semi-annual sales which can be great opportunities for sourcing. Because library sales can be gold mines for quality books, they can also be very competitive, so it’s important to know what to look for, and how to use your equipment quickly and effectively. If your library doesn’t do big sales or if they’re between sales, walk in and introduce yourself! It never hurts to ask if they have a room of books for sale or a cart of books that they’ll be donating. We’ve found that staff tend to be friendly and accommodating. 

Q: How many sources can/should I have?

A: You can never have too many sources! If you’re willing to drive around town, or even out of town to acquire more sources, the more money you’re likely to make. Later on in Book Flipper University, we’ll teach you how to identify which places are dry, and how to look elsewhere. 

Q: How much should I pay for books?

A: This depends on where you look and what you’re looking for. Most thrift store finds will cost between $0.50 and $3. While many sell books for a flat rate, a newer trend popping up is individually pricing books. Typically, the bigger the book, the more expensive it is, regardless of what it’s worth online. Just make sure you understand the pricing structure before you start scanning. 

Also, don’t be afraid to spend money on books that your app says are a good buy and have a good sales rank on Amazon. Spending $3-4 is worthwhile if you can make $8-10 with relative certainty. Ultimately, the goal is to sell the book for double or ideally triple its cost to maximize your returns. 

We actually like going to thrift stores that charge more for their books because a lot of book scouts won’t pay more than a few bucks for a book. By adjusting our buying parameters, we’ve found this can be very profitable and there’s far less competition.

Q: How many books will I find?

A: There are many factors that determine how many books you’ll find, including the quality of books at your sourcing spot and how quickly you can get through them. For every 100 books you scan, you’ll probably only walk away with 2 to 5. We’ll teach you which books to scan in more detail later on, but in general you’ll want to look for non-fiction books and scan them all. As you’re getting started, make sure you’re scanning everything because you’ll be surprised! Some books that look worthless end up being worth $15 to $20 and books you think are worth a lot are worth nothing. 

Remember, finding books can feel a bit like combing the beach for treasure. You may not come up with a lot of great material, but finding just a few quality gems makes the time well spent. A little motto of ours is, “All it takes is one or two really good books to make your day.” 

Q: What if someone beats me to the source

A: It’s possible competition in your area will beat you a source, but don’t worry. Sometimes you’ll strike out and come back with nothing, but don’t write that source off yet. Try again a week or two later. You may even run into another scouter scanning books. It could still be worth your time to go in and do some scouting yourself, because they may be searching for different books or have a different criteria. 

That’s it for today’s session of Book Flipper University! Now that we’ve set some expectations, come back and see us next time as we teach you other things to look for when sourcing, dive into sales rank and fees, and hit the road to visit some thrift stores. 


This week’s video: 

Book Flipper Blog:​

Book Flipper Facebook Group:​

Free Listing Spreadsheet:​

Tracking Spreadsheet:​

The Book Scouting App I Use:​

My Online Arbitrage Tool:​

The 100 Book Challenge:​

The Listing Software I Use:​

Box Level Contents Spreadsheet:​

Scouting Tools I Use (scanner, printer, etc):

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