Sunday, September 30, 2012

Making Money Selling Books

I just found that listing on EBay. Yes, Harry Potter books go for a great deal of money.
     You need money to buy books. Fortunately, the first hand book industry is a stalling, fading, Kindle reading pile of shit. The second hand book industry on the other hand, is a prospering, growing and ever changing thing. The low-hanging fruit of the second hand book market is so good, that Goodwill has opened a chain of book stores all over the United States. One just opened next to my house in a great area of the city.
     The average book at Goodwill (I'm just using Goodwill as an example, and it's pretty common) is about $1.00. On certain days they are half off, or have a colored tag on it which means it's on sale. Hard backs are normally $1.99, and again, you can get them half price if you time it right. Go often, buy many.
"But Major! I'm broke!"
     If you can't afford a $10 investment at least once a week, then book collecting of any kind is not for you. In the event you just need some starter money, try my little experiment as follows.
1) Go to the Paperback exchange/Goodwill/Garage Sale. Visit as many as you have to. In my neck of the woods if takes a good weekend to get some great books together so it does take some time.
2) Buy 4 or 5 Fantasy or Science Fiction hard covers. Don't spend more than $1.00 or $2.00 on each one. This is important.
3) List the books on eBay for the going rates. You may only get $3-5 per book. This is normal. Shipping for each book is around $2.00.. in that ball park. Charge around $.50 extra. This can be you're gas money for all the driving you just did to the local thrift stores.
4) 5 books, at an average of $2.00 per book, is a $10 profit. Now you have money to buy more books next weekend.
     For those who are still paying attention, you made double you're money back. It's only $10 extra, but on some occasions you can find books like i found this morning with my wife: A Harry Potter First edition.. this one happen to be The Prisoner of Azkeban.
     It's a quick story, but about 13 miles from my house in Florida is a Super Goodwill. It's a giant warehouse sized thrift store that keeps on giving. I go here at least twice a week and find something to keep for myself or sell. I'm at the point now in my collecting career that I keep most of what I buy and just sell the duplicates, so this place is great for me. All in all, Super Goodwill is amazing for books. I brought my wife with me so she could look at Christmas stuff while I checked out the books, toys and movies. She followed me over to the books and we looked together at some stuff. Someone had offloaded their Starwars: New Jedi Order book series and there were about 25 of those going for .50 cents each. Those alone are great for someone looking to expand on their Starwars collection or to complete a set. I found a few Terry Goodkind paperbacks I did not have, or thought I did not have, a Dragonlance novel not written by Margeret Weis, and a Forgotten realms novel, which I will always pick up and I'll explain why later.
     Looking in the hardbacks for about ten minutes I spotted The Prisoner of Azkeban sitting on a low shelf, my wife saw me pick it up, and came over. "First edition?" She asked. It's about all she knows about book collecting. Firsts.. they are worth coin. I turned it to the title page and confirmed that it was, closed it, and tossed it into the cart with the others. This particular book is the fourth first edition Harry Potter book I have found in a month at the same Goodwill. I paid $1.99, and with a quick look up on EBay from my smart phone, I learned it is worth about $50 on any given day, sometimes more. I knew this, but I always confirm. The going rate does change, and J.K. Rowling just released a new book, which generates some interest. I have a set of First edition Harry Potter books in PB and HC that i would not sell, that i bought new years ago. Anything that I buy after that goes to eBay to fund more ventures like this. That $50 just paid for the gas money to get there, my wife's Christmas crap, and lunch for all three of us, with some left over for another trip later in the week.
     Harry Potter hard backs were printed in mass. First editions are not rare, I repeat.. NOT RARE. People wait in lines around a building all day, millions are sold in the first few hours. So why do people pay a premium? Really I don't know, and I don't ask questions. Buy them as you see them, keep some for yourself and sell the rest. You will encounter more of these books than any other and you will learn to love them to keep you in the book collecting biz. If I lost my job tomorrow I could book hunt and sell off duplicates to make ends meet. You can do the same.
     As a side note, when you sell a book, prices are all over the place. First edition books going from seriously over $1,000 to $10. How do you price the book you just bought so it will sell? Offer cheaper shipping. Take great pictures. Look in the lower end where most of the prices are grouped up and try to be right in the middle. If it does not sell right away, give it some time, build up an inventory. The sales will come in.

First Post Q&A

First post. Love first posts.

I'll just break down what I'm trying to accomplish with this blog in the least long-winded version possible.. and the easiest way to do that is with a terrible long-winded Q&A session.

Q: Who are you?
A: My name is Major, I have blogs and articles all over the internet under different names. I've written a book on nerdy things, and another 80's-ish adventure novel. I grew up in Winooski, otherwise known as the Brooklyn of Vermont, and moved to Florida in the mid 90's.

Q: And you collect books do you?
A: Yes. Hence the book background, and my self proclaimed Bibliophile status. I've been collecting books since middle school. My parents got remarried, and my new step mother had one of those library living rooms out of a movie, had the ladder and everything. My obsession started there.

Q: Bibilio-what!?
A: Honestly if you don't know what that means, then you are in the wrong place. I'm going to rename the blog soon to something more accepted by the masses, and lighten the whole tone of the blog to make it easier to read. I spent way too much time designing this!

Q: How long have you been collecting books?
A: Since middle school.. so yeah.. like 20+ years. (I'm old, but not that old!)

Q: What genres are your favorite to read and collect?
A: I absolutely love fantasy. I really escape when I read anything with a fantasy element. A close second is science fiction. I love that what I'm reading from the 70's is fact today, its insane. Collecting fantasy and science fiction is on the rise because of the movies based on popular books, Harry Potter doing so well and so on. Just like when I collected video games in the early 2000's I was all alone, getting everything for soo cheap. Same with the books, but not anymore. I find some gems at the swap meet, and at garage sales, and I have contacts that clean storage areas that call me when they find something.

Q: How many books do you have?
A: Good question! I don't know. When I built the book cases in my old house I counted over 2500. When I moved again, it was around 3000. When I left the condo to the new house all my book cases fell apart and I had to start over. Considering I pick up about 20 new books a week sometimes (or more!) I'm sure I'm closer to 5000 now, in the book cases. Packed up, maybe another 1000? See, I don't know. (Update, January 2016: I'm going to actually count them soon. My guess is 6-7k right now.)

Q: Do you have some really cool books in your collection? You know, Hobbit first editions, and the ever elusive Dune First edition?
A: Yeah not really. At one point or another I've owned some considerable books that have been very valuable and profitable for me. At the moment, I have a really early printing first edition Hobbit, lots of valuable vintage paperbacks, and some first edition science fiction that I could get money for. Not that I would sell! I have a few books worth $1,000+, $500+, a handful of $200 plus, and maybe over a hundred that I could get over $100 for. I have a friend who inherited a Hobbit First/First hard cover. I got to look at it once.

Q: You are in it for the money. I knew it.
A: I use the money to buy more books. It keeps the cycle going. You get a duplicate of something common that sells, make money, use said money to buy more stuff. Easy-peasey. Also, that was not really a question at all. eBay is what it is, an ends to justify the means. I only sell duplicates, or books that are not in the genre I collect. I sell about 10 books a year, or less.

Q: Why the blog? I mean, there are a ton of blogs out there.
A: I'm going to try and film pick up videos, Ie.. The Game Chasers with their retro video games. I'm pretty prolific. At one point I did what Jay and Billy had done, collected thousands of video games, then was forced to sell all my valuables when the housing market took a dive. I would never sell my books, not even in that situation, although I did sell a couple to get me out of a bind. I'm good at what I do, well at least I think I'am..I want to share my experiences and help others find the books they want. Obviously I have no ads on the site, I'm lazy and lose interest in everything I do after a while. The blog should help me keep my interest, and also keep my Photoshop skills sharp.

Q: What do you do for a living?
A: I'm in marketing for a large beer company, which you will be able to tell from some of my pictures on here. I get to travel a ton throughout Florida, and check out all the book stores, thrift stores and exchanges.. you name it! I eat really weird food and stay in crappy hotels, and always end the day with a cold beer no matter where I am.

Q: Where do you get your information from?
A: I get my info from reading about things or owning the actual book I'm talking about, the internet, and also from my mother who is an author and historian. I'm a wizard with google, and I take a lot of notes. If I'm wrong about something, I can take criticism, just let me know.

Q: What's your favorite book(s)?
A: Sherlock Holmes, The Club Dumas, Dune. Series? Forgotten Realms, Piers Anthony trilogies, Foundation, Earthsea, Discworld, Conan, Dragonlance, Thieves World. I've read most of the greats, but those are the ones that really stick out for me. I read some of the books in the R.A. Salvatore series in the Corona setting recently, and those were a lot better than I thought. I started with the Demon Wars, and moved in to The Highwayman. Single favorite of all time? The Club Dumas, then The Name of the Rose.