How to negotiate down and pay pennies for books… that sell for pounds!

By Sharon Fussell, November 22, 2012

When you go into charity shops you may be horrified at some of the prices placed on books…

You might wonder how on earth you’re going to make any profits after factoring in the steep upfront costs.

I’ve mentioned this before in this eletter, but I almost never pay prices asked in charity shops (not before checking them using my phone anyway). That’s because I usually purchase several hundred books per week and looking up individual isbns would be far too time consuming.

So how do I pay pennies and sell for pounds?

Basically I make deals with managers in charity shops to pay a fraction of their shop price, but I purchase in bulk.

Each situation is individual but I basically take a chance and ask managers the question. “Do you have lots of books and will you be willing to do a deal if I buy lots of books from you today?”

Mangers may ask ‘how many books are you prepared to buy’ – I usually reply at least 100 (firstly I have a quick scout to ascertain that I can choose at least 100 books that fulfil my buying criteria).

In most cases the reply is positive, as most mangers can see benefits in you buying books from them when they have a surplus.

Once an agreement has been reached, you can start going through the shelves within the shop-placing the books chosen on the floor in piles of 10 or 20. Always invite the manager/assistant to count the books prior to bagging them up.

In most cases they will trust you to count them into the bags and give them the total price owed. Then ask if they have any further books that they would like you to go through in the store room-in most cases managers are happy for you to do this.

When searching for books, make sure you’re prepared with lots of strong bags to carry your ‘finds’ back to the car, as it’s not uncommon to end up buying in access of 200 book in one go.

Although you will likely not know the value of each individual book on Amazon prior to purchase (because you’re essentially buying many books ‘blind’), you will be able to make good money despite having to let go possible several unsuitable titles later.

You can cut down on duds as all books should ideally be chosen on condition, niche factor, and unusual fiction titles. This way you are increasing the likely hood of picking books with value on Amazon, such as well known Cookery books which you may be able to sell for several pounds on Amazon despite the fact you only paid pennies for them.

The idea is to have a selection of shops that you can visit on a regular basis. It’s a win win situation as the charity shop makes money from unwanted books cluttering up their shop and you make money!

In the process you make buyers happy because they have found a book they wanted, that, in most cases, would be impossible to find on their local high street.

Don’t forget to give your contact details to the manger and invite them to ring you when they need you to return.


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