7 Questions to ask when buying wholesale books…

By Sharon Fussell, May 11, 2012

I have often been asked my experience of, and my opinion on, buying books wholesale by the pallet as apposed to buying from my usual haunts such as charity shops and libraries etc.

The thought of having a pallets of new books delivered to my door each week with lots of great titles, high selling value and low outlay would certainly attract me.

Unfortunately I do not know where these suppliers are. I wish I did, imagine how much time would be saved!

The truth about buying wholesale books

When you buy books by the pallet you do have to accept that many books will not be of your choosing, many may well only fetch low profits despite being ‘new’, usually because ‘new’ books by the pallet/wholesale will be either end of lines or returns by high street shops. So, new does not always mean popular or recently published. Some titles could be quite a few years old and still unread.

Purchasing new books by the pallet will usually entail a higher buying cost and, as I previously stated, just because a book is in a new condition does not mean it will have any more value and the price you are prepared to pay should reflect this. Personally, I would be unwilling to pay more than I would for a used book.

In most cases you will be buying ‘blind,’ and, as ever, it’s impossible to tell a book’s resale value by the cover.

Indeed most new books sold by the pallet will cost at least £1 each. You need a mixture of general titles – but buying pallets of books could mean buying 1000 copies of a single title, which would be disastrous (unless it happened to be a top 100 bestselling book – highly unlikely).

Of course when you purchase books from whatever source it is not always possible to be absolutely sure which books will sell or how quickly, but when the cost of buying the books is low then the ones you do sell make up for the ones that take a while or indeed never do sell.

So, when you purchase pallets of books new or used (especially used), you do need to ask certain questions:

1. Does the sell also sell on Amazon (and cherry-pick the books before offloading them to sell by the pallet)?

2. Can you pick and choose individual titles (which you can check out before you buy)?

3. What condition are the books in (it’s no good buying books that are smelly, dirty, have missing pages and/or are ripped)?

4. Does the cost of the pallet include delivery? (Delivery can increase the total cost quite significantly).

5. Can you pay using credit card? (This gives you extra protection should the seller be unreliable).

6. Do they remove books that are unlikely to sell on Amazon i.e. Mills and Boon, Readers Digest and very heavy coffee table books?

7. Finally, ask yourself if you will not only get your purchasing costs back but will make a profit. Not all books will sell quickly but you will need to recoup your outlay and make a profit.

In some cases it is possible to purchase new books by choosing individual titles that you have checked before you buy. Again you need to ask if the seller also sells on Amazon as they will be competing with you and will most likely be in a stronger selling position than you as they will have paid less and can afford to reduce the price (automatically devaluing your copy).

Of course you may see advertisements for pallets of used books and in many cases this will mean being even more wary. I have bought books by the box load (10 boxes @ £4 each).

Okay, the books were quite cheap (about 15p each) but I had to throw out a few and although I did make my money back and am in profit the sales from that particular supply have been slow.

I have to admit that I would not have chosen most of the titles myself if buying from charity shops but nonetheless felt obliged to list them as I had paid for them. I would advise you to be very wary when buying used books in this way.

If you are a newbie I would not really advocate buying books by the pallet at all. It does seem attractive I know to purchase a load of books in one go – but before diving in ask yourself the 7 questions above and be very wary!


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