The Six Things I’ve Learned After Reselling Books for One Month

How I made $900 in One Month Selling Books, But Not Really

I’ve completed my first month selling books. The good news is that I sold $900 worth of merchandise, after seller fees. The bad news is that I made a net profit of approximately -$150! The reason: start up costs. I spent money on domains, WordPress plugins, scales, and packing supplies to ship books. Of the $900 earned, there were approximately $100 in postage fees. Keep in mind the $900 isn’t truly profit because I had to buy merchandise to resell it.

The Real Story

Now that a large part of my start up costs have been funded, I anticipate less overhead expenses. The good news is that I am tracking everything. In the course of one month, I noticed the following:

  • I did make $430 profit when comparing what I spent on merchandise and what I resold the merchandise for. I have to be careful though because some of the merchandise did not cost me anything – I was reselling merchandise I already owned.
  • The average profit per item was $14.30. I’ll have to monitor this month to month so I can determine how to maintain or increase this average.

What I’ve Learned After a Month

  1. Be aware of all of your expenses, particularly postage – When selling books on Amazon, there’s no way to compete with the big boys who sell books for a penny, with $3.99 in shipping. They are able to make penny profits but they sell so much merchandise. For the sole entrepreneur, you can still charge less than your competition, but you need to search for items that are worth something. Also, books work well because you can use USPS media mail for somewhat inexpensive shipping costs. Paypal is one merchant that allows you to create mailing labels using the media mail rate.
  2. Amazon is better than eBay for selling books – Although eBay doesn’t charge as much, I believe customer behavior is such that they go to Amazon first when searching for books. I find you can get more cash when selling on Amazon. They may take more of a cut, but you are paying for visibility.
  3. eBay is good for buying and selling lots – For instance, my wife wanted to relive her teenage years by buying a lot of Sweet Valley High books. She probably spent $20 for them, then she have me the 50% she didn’t want and I resold them on eBay…for $20. Look for deals, particularly on bulk items.
  4. Textbooks are the way to go – I’ve found that textbooks are your money maker. You can make good profit, but you need to do your homework. Be careful – make sure you identify the year, edition, and ISBN number. I’ve learned a lot about how “international” and “custom” editions can affect the resell price.
  5. Craigslist is your friend, if you are patient and do the work – August is the best month of the year for a book seller, particularly if you seek out textbooks. Some students just want to make more then reselling to their campus book store, so you can find good deals. Sure, I’ve had to pick up the merchandise, but I have convinced a few honest folks to mail me the merchandise by offering a few bucks towards postage, and I pay them via Paypal right away.
  6. Buy books via auction on eBay – I’ve found prices vary immensely for textbooks on eBay, so separate the merchant from the individual. This often happens by only looking at auctions.

Next Month Plans

I mentioned that I had a fair amount of startup costs In addition to selling physical merchandise, I plan to experiment with Internet Marketing. Quite frankly, a lot of it seems sleezy, but I want to find ways to create niche sites that expose interesting merchandise to costomers. I’ll use this blog to also report on that experiment.


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