A guide to buying wholesale books by the pallet-load

By Sharon Fussell, June 5, 2013

I have often been asked about my experience and opinions on buying books wholesale by the pallet-load – 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.

However, if this is possible I do not know where these suppliers are. I wish I did – imagine how much time would be saved!

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 value prices despite being ‘new’, usually because ‘new’ books by the pallet/wholesale will be either end of publishers’ lines or returns by high street shops – so ‘new’ does not always mean recently published editions that you see in WH Smith. Some titles could be quite a few years old but have not been previously read.

Purchasing new books by the pallet will often have 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 – it will just as likely have as low a selling value as used books – therefore the price you pay would have to reflect this.

So personally, I would be unwilling to pay more for a new book than I would for a used book.

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

Indeed, most new books sold by the pallet will cost at least £1 each. You need a mixture of general titles – but sometimes buying pallets of books could mean buying 1,000 books and it may be one title. This would likely be disastrous, unless it was a Top 100 best-selling book, which is 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.

When you purchase pallets of books, new or used but especially used, you do need to ask certain questions:

Does the seller also sell on Amazon and cherry-pick the books before boxing them and offloading them to sell by the pallet? Do they remove books that are unlikely to sell on Amazon? I.e. Mills and Boon, Readers Digest titles and very heavy coffee table general books.
Can you pick and choose individual tiles which you can check out before you buy?
What condition are the books in? No good buying books that are smelly, dirty, have missing pages and/or are ripped.
Does the cost of the pallet include delivery? Delivery costs can increase the total cost quite significantly.
Can you pay using credit card? This gives you extra protection should the seller be unreliable.

The most important question to ask yourself is not only will you get your purchasing costs back, but will you make a profit? Not all books will sell quickly but you will need to recoup your outlay and make a profit, so again, be wary, as once you have paid the seller for a batch of books the seller has made their money!

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 compete with you. They most likely will be in a stronger selling position than you and they have probably paid less than you, and can afford to reduce the book 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). Ok, the books were quite cheap at about 15p each, but I had to throw out quite a few – and although I did make my money back and am in profit, sales from those particular supplies have been slow.

I have to admit, I would not have chosen most of the titles myself when buying from charity shops, but felt obliged to list them as I had them and had paid for them. I am now very wary when buying used books in this way.

As a newbie, I would not really advocate buying books by the pallet-load at all. I know it does seem attractive to purchase a load of books at one go, but before diving in, check out the questions above and be very wary!

Where can you purchase books by the pallet-load?

A few years ago I could have given you a list of places, but it does appear as though there are a dearth of book pallet sellers.

There are job lots of books available on eBay on a regular basis. World of Books http://www.worldofbooks.com/ do still sell wholesale bulk-buys, I believe. However, again, be careful to ensure that you check out what you are buying, and crucially, what you will receive for your money.

Remember: condition is king, so this is something you need to ascertain, alongside price and genre.


One Comment

  1. Rae says:

    Great article as I am a marketplace seller in the US seeking books.

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