My interview with Greg Murphy from sevenfigurebooksales.com

| 17 Comments

Happy Monday!  As a bookseller, I’m allowed to use those two words together since sales are typically highest on Mondays

Last week I had the privilege to do a video interview with one of the men I admire most in the bookselling business – Greg Murphy.  He has an MBA in economics and has built an impressive business dealing with recycled books.  Seriously.  He processes books by the tractor trailer load.  You can read more about his operation at sevenfigurebooksales.com.

In our interview we discussed his FBA experiment and why FBA doesn’t work for his business model (with the exception of textbooks).  We also got nerdy with my own sales rank data and how I use it to make intelligent purchasing decisions.  (You can read my blog post about that concept here.)  If you like data, then this interview will be right up your alley!

Without further ado, here’s the interview:

17 Comments

  1. Wow thank you SO much! That was the best explanation of sales rank I’ve ever seen/heard! I just didn’t get it before, so I bought a lot of books I probably should not have invested in. I would look at the squiggles on Camel Camel Camel sales rank and have no idea of how to interpret them.
    Now I know what I’m looking at. I can’t thank you enough!
    Ann

    • Those “squiggles” are the “humps” from which camel camel camel likely derived its name! I’m glad you’re able to interpret those charts more accurately now. Good luck out there!

  2. Hi Caleb,
    Thank you so much for this great video! I am just starting out and I am researching and reading everything I can on the Internet to learn about selling used books and this by far is one of the most transparent and helpful interviews I have viewed! I am going to library book sales and finding the right categories of nonfiction books but I am finding many books that are selling for a penny on MF. I plan to sell FBA. I absolutely agree with your 8+ price strategy but I am having difficulty trying to figure out which penny books on MF can make that leap on FBA. I understand that Prime buyers will pay more for the book. Besides looking at the history of sales on camel camel camel could you share what else goes into your decision making process to buy a penny book? Should I be concerned about the number of MF sellers or FBA sellers that are listing the books? Any criteria that you use in making that decision would be greatly appreciated. I fear that I am leaving a lot of good books on the shelf that could bring in good profit. Thank you again for such an open and honest interview, it was so appreciated!
    Renee

    • Thanks for the kind words! I just replied to your email but wanted to drop you a quick note on the blog as well. Yes, I factor in sales rank, sales rank history, number of competitive offers, used MF prices, and new MF prices to make the determination on if I should purchase the book. Over time, you’ll learn to develop a “feel” for a book based on a few data points, which will speed up the process. I’m still learning and I hope that 6 months from now I’ll be even more efficient at this whole process than I am today. Feel free to ask any questions along the way – either on email or here on the blog.

  3. Hi Caleb,

    I have read through all your posts so far and am planning on watching your vids ASAP. I am just starting out as well with the goal of replacing my day job working 40+ hours a week selling books 10-20 hours a week. I just sent in 300 books I got last week and am confident that they will be profitable. Your posts about sales rank and intelligent pricing helped me a lot as did your interview on Peter Valley’s blog. I do have a question for you if you don’t mind answering.

    How do you feel about selling Advanced Copies / Professional Copies / Exam Copies of textbooks? I am assuming you know what I am talking about but these are textbooks or other kinds of academic literature that are given to college professors for free to try out and are not supposed to be sold. However, I know for a fact that people buy and sell them anyways at used bookstores and the like. But I am not sure if it’s a good idea to sell on Amazon FBA because someone may see a book with big fat letters on is that says “not for resale” and may think they got a defective copy or something. These books are the exact same books as you would get otherwise so I wouldn’t mind buying them myself and therefore feel like it’s fine to sell them via FBA.

    Thoughts?

    -Eric

    • Hey Eric,

      I’m glad you found the blog and I hope it’s helpful to you in growing your book business! If you keep sending in a few hundred books to Amazon every week, especially if several of them are textbooks, you should be able to build up some full-time income over the span of several months. That’s a great goal!

      Amazon’s policies prohibit you from selling the advanced copies or instructor’s editions of a textbook on the US student edition page, even if you describe it properly in your listing description. However, that doesn’t stop sellers from trying to slip them through the cracks. I purchase hundreds of textbooks from Amazon every month and about a dozen each month are advanced copies or international editions that I have to return. Even though these sales are against Amazon’s policies, there are still tons of sellers out there doing it. Personally, I wouldn’t risk getting my account suspended or shut down just to make a few bucks on these titles. There are other sites out there that will purchase these editions. If a product page already exists on Amazon specifically for the instructor’s edition or international edition, then you are allowed to list them under that page.

      Hope that helps!
      -Caleb

  4. Eric,

    One common mistake new sellers make is to “reason through” what is acceptable practice in the Amazon marketplace. This may work out fine on ebay or other selling platforms, but with Amazon it is very important to fully comply with their policies and grading guidelines.

    One example I see all the time with new sellers is that they list a book as “like new”, but mention in the condition notes that there is highlighting. Of course, you can’t do that because Amazon’s grading guidelines state that the highest grade a book with highlighting may have is “good”.

    I recently was shopping for a particular book and messaged a seller who was doing this to get clarification on the actual grade. He responded to my inquiry by stating that he “feels” it deserves to be listed as “like new” because he barely used it and only highlighted the first few pages. Now, if some customer makes a purchase on a mobile device, they likely will not read the condition notes and although this seller means well, he is leaving himself open to problems by trying to bend the rules in his favor.

    Amazon’s policy states:
    Unacceptable: Includes missing pages and obscured or unreadable text. We also do not permit the sale of advance reading copies, including uncorrected proofs, of in-print or not-yet-published books.

    Read the full thing here:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=im_1161242_cufm_200346710a?ie=UTF8&nodeId=1161242&pop-up=1

    Now, are others doing this? Sure. Yep, see it all the time. I also read about a lot of people getting suspended/banned as well. Myself, I am very careful what and how I list on Amazon. Especially for FBA, where the customer is likely paying a premium and is expecting a top notch transaction.

    There is always other avenues for selling stuff Amazon does not allow.

  5. Hello Caleb, Saw you with Greg Murphy and loved it! You had mentioned that you had some information available regarding how to clean books, remove stickers and box them correctly… to comply with Amazon’s rules. Is it possible to get that from you? Eagerly awaiting your reply . Thanks again for all your advice and insights!
    Chuck

    • Hey Chuck – I’m glad you enjoyed the Greg Murphy interview! I had a lot of fun with that one and hopefully we do some more interviews in the near future.

      You can clean books however it best suits you. The main regulation from Amazon is that if there are any barcodes on the outside of the book, you’ll need to cover them completely with your FBA sticker. This way their employees won’t scan the wrong barcode and get confused. Of course, if you find a price tag on a book that is much cheaper than what you plan to sell it for, remove that sucker! Your customer won’t be happy if he/she finds that!

      Let me know if you have any additional questions!
      -Caleb

  6. I just recently found your blog and I am in love with all this great knowledge! I’d love to watch this video interview yet it doesn’t seem to link anymore. Is there a way I can still watch it?

  7. Thanks for going after the Greg Murphy video to repost.

    I have not actually started yet and still not clear on library books. Can library books purchased at library book sales be offered on FBA?

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