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It’s that time of the year – Textbook Season! And unlike Christmas or Shark Week, Textbook Season comes around not once, but twice. For the next 4-5 weeks, you can expect to see higher than normal sales for your educational books. For us as booksellers, this is the equivalent to the Q4 surge that Retail Arbitrage sellers experience.
In honor of this spectacular time of the year, I’m going to share a handful of useful tips and tricks to help you navigate this fall textbook season like a champ! But first, let’s take a step back to look at the basic pricing philosophies.
From a pricing perspective, there are two major schools of thought:
1 — price low to move inventory as fast as possible
2 — price high to maximize profits
There are trade-offs with either philosophy. Pricing low may help you extract profits quickly which you can use to buy more inventory, but you may wind up leaving money on the table by letting go of your books too quickly. Pricing high may help you maximize your profits, but you run the risk of the market prices dropping before you can sell your items. Personally, I prefer a hybrid model in an attempt to balance turn rates with profits. I monitor my textbooks throughout the textbook season, looking for quick wins as well as opportunities to increase my prices. If the sales rank is great – well under 100k – it indicates sustained demand for a title. I will take a closer look at the other prime offers and then decide whether to drop my price to the current market price in an attempt to generate a quick sale, or potentially raise my price and wait for the market price to rise up to me. If the sales rank indicates weaker demand for a textbook, I will look to price those items more aggressively in an attempt to move them.
Before you price (or reprice) your textbooks, commit to your own pricing philosophy. During the next 4-5 weeks, it can be easy to let fear or greed motivate you, rather than sticking to a more disciplined approach.
Ah yes, the million dollar question. When exactly is the peak of textbook season? Let’s take a look at my inventory turn rates from the 2015 fall textbook season to see what we can learn. As a general rule, I typically sell between 2.0 – 2.5% of my inventory in any given week. Here’s how the increased demand played out during last fall’s textbook rush:
As you can see, there is a strong surge of sales lasting for about 5-6 weeks, with a peak during the 4th week of August. We are currently half-way through the third week of August, so the best is still yet to come! If you only have time to reprice your textbooks once during the fall season, the best use of your time would be to reprice near the end of the third week to set up your inventory as best as you can to move your books during the peak of the busy season.
How to reprice: Whether or not you use a repricing software in your day-to-day operations, it is better to put human eyes on your textbooks when making pricing decisions. Fortunately, there are a few tools available within Seller Central to help speed up the repricing process. For starters, go to the Manage Inventory page, and click on the “Preferences” box in the upper right hand corner:
From there, you’ll see a screen that looks like this:
You’ll want to make sure the Sales Rank box is checked, along with the Buy Box Price. For books, the Buy Box Price will be Amazon’s offer, so you can ensure your price isn’t too close (or higher) than Amazon’s. As you scroll further down the page, you’ll come across this section:
Be sure to change the second box to read “Listings with the same fulfillment method”, as this will show the lowest Prime price instead of the MF prices (assuming you’re an FBA seller). You can also set it up to only show listings from sellers who have books in the same condition as yours. When you’re done, you’ll see data like this:
You’ll see your price compared to the lowest prime price, along with the sales rank. This isn’t all the data you’ll need to make wise pricing decisions, but it’s a helpful tool to spot check your textbooks.
Before you head off to start repricing your textbooks, here are a few tips and pearls to aid you in the process:
So there you have it. Here’s to your best textbook season yet!
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!