As you can imagine I get many emails every week asking questions about my experiences with Amazon. So, today I thought we could share some of the most frequently asked.
Q) I know you will have built up a lot of experience by now but do you still check every book you buy?
A) Yes and no. If I buy in bulk and the books are reasonably cheap (10p-25p), I just look for condition and avoid older fiction titles.
If, however, I am not buying in bulk – and so cannot ask for a discount on the normal charity shop prices – I always look up the relevant ISBNs before I buy using my Internet phone.
I tend to have a reasonable idea which books to avoid (those that will not yield profits high enough to bother with), and so, to narrow down my search I will focus on niche non fiction titles that I suspect may bring in a likely profit.
Q) Have you ever bought a pallet of books, and if so, was it worth it?
A) I have, but it can be hit and miss. When buying pallets of books, in most cases you are unable to choose what books are included in the pallet and you buy sight unseen. It is therefore possible to end up with many, many books with the same title – or even old tatty books that are of no use for reselling.
Tip: You need to check if the seller of the pallet is an Amazon merchant seller; if they are, chances are they have cherry picked the most profitable books – leaving you with the completely unsellable copies!
Q) What do you think about those sellers (mainly from USA) who sell at hugely inflated prices?
A) When I first joined Amazon it shocked me that this practice went on, but there are various reasons for the inflated prices. My guess is that, as they only receive the same postal credit as UK buyers, they are trying to make up for the actual postage cost.
Q) How do you get charity shop mangers to agree to sell you books at a cheaper price?
A) Each situation is individual but I basically take a chance and ask 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?”
They may ask ‘how many books are you prepared to buy.’ I usually say at least 100 (NOTE! I would only ask the question if I see at least 100 books that I would be interested in). I try to negotiate a price of around £20/£25 per hundred.
In most cases the reply is positive, at least 8 out of 10 times anyway. Then when I have stripped the shelves in the shop I may ask if they would like me to go into the store room (in most cases they agree).
All books are hand picked and sorted by condition, niche factor, unusual fiction titles etc. This method gives you access to books that would normally cost a few pounds such a popular Cookery books.
Final tip: Always go prepared with lots of bags to carry your booty home!