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My 2016 goals // Plus – how to find free books!

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Happy New Year everyone!  It’s hard to believe January is more than half over already… I hope your book sales are rocking and rolling as the college students head back to school for the spring semester.

I was able to spend a few weeks in December back in the Midwest visiting with family, reconnecting with friends, and setting my business goals for 2016.  My wife and I were blessed to be able to both step away from our jobs over the past three months, so we are now able to focus all of our time on the book business!  Here are a few of our focus areas for the year ahead:

  • Source and list at least 200 books each week.  This is twice our 2015 goal, which was the main idea behind starting this blog.
  • Continue to develop and promote our eFLIP online book arbitrage software.  Ever wanted to source books from the comfort of your own home?  Check it out and sign up for a free 3-day trial here!
  • Expand our business footprint by hiring scouters outside of Colorado.  We’ve hired a few already and worked out the kinks with the compensation plans.  Interested in getting into the book business but don’t want to figure out all the business aspects of this gig?  Come work with us!  We offer training and manage all the business aspects of the business.  You can simply focus on finding books and listing them – we’ll pay you a generous commission off of everything that sells!  Email us for more information – thebookflipper@gmail.com.  We’d love to track down at least one scouter per state!
  • Create and share more data-driven content here on this blog.  I’ve been humbled at the initial response from the book flipping community to this site, and we are rapidly approaching 1,000 followers on our email list!  Connecting with each of you and hearing your diverse stories is easily my favorite perk of running this site.  I’ve put together a Book Flipper Community Facebook page as an extension of this blog – be sure to join the group and pose your questions to a community of fellow book flippers.

A quick story on finding free books:  When I was back in Indiana, one of my college buddies asked if I would sell some books for him.  He was a seminary student, so he had quite the collection of religious books (a.k.a. valuable).  Since he was a friend, I offered to sell them for him on a consignment basis.  Here we are, only three weeks after I listed them, and more than 50% of them have already sold!  Apparently this genre sells well in January.  My commission rate is 20% of sales plus all inbound shipping costs, so I’ve already profited $156 off of inventory that didn’t cost me a dime.  Out of curiosity, I went back to my master spreadsheet and looked up a few other examples where I’ve sold for others on consignment:

  • A retired college professor who had me sell his book collection:  I profited $284.
  • A young professional who had me sell his old textbooks:  I profited $277.
  • A PhD math student who was slimming down his collection:  I profited $357.

These are just a few examples of how you can make money without spending anything to acquire your inventory.  The only cost to me was a few minutes of my time to list the books, and a few dollars to ship the books to Amazon’s warehouse (which I charge back to the customer as their books sell).  It’s a win-win scenario for both parties: you put money in their pocket and also make some relatively risk-free profits of your own.  Of course, it’s much easier to try to buy the books up front and then you can make all the profits yourself and don’t have to deal with writing checks once a month (I use PayPal, but it still takes a few minutes of my time to send the payments).  In many cases, however, the customer won’t agree on a lump sum up front, so the only way to get their books is to offer to sell them on consignment.  It’s been an effective way to still make money in these situations.

Most people will shy away from trying to sell on consignment, because they don’t have any way to track the sales and pay the commissions.  There are software options out there that will do this for you (InventoryLab is one of them).  Or, you can build your own spreadsheet to do this for you.  I’ve got one that tracks my profits by source, tells me how much to pay my scouters, and calculates the commissions earned by my consignment deals.  It also spits out income statements and cashflow statements so I can gauge the health of my business.  (Side note:  I’m considering making this accounting spreadsheet available in the next few weeks for a small one-time fee.  If you’re interested, shoot me an email and I’ll keep you updated when it’s ready for primetime.)

If you’re willing to put the work in and do what most others won’t do, that will put you in a unique place to find profits where others can’t!

In conclusion, here are a few key points to keep in mind regarding selling on consignment:

  • Tell people that you sell books.  Not only is it a great conversation starter, but often they will either give you their books that are collecting dust or see if you’ll sell for them on consignment.  Remember – everything is marketing!  Even small conversations.
  • Create a business card.  You can get 500 cards printed for around $10-15 on VistaPrint or Staples.com, and it’s a great way to allow someone to contact you later to collect their books.
  • Selling on consignment is a great way to get started in this business if you’re struggling with initial capital.  You can’t beat getting inventory for free!
  • Selling on consignment will allow you to gain access to books that would otherwise not be for sale.  Many people are hesitant to sell their books for a low lump sum, but you can come in and offer a profit-sharing solution for them.

 

I’d love to hear from you – what are YOUR 2016 goals?  Leave a comment below!

66 Comments

  1. Caleb,

    Put me on the list for the spread sheet.

    January is always a good time to set goals, and I am working on mine, too. The book selling business is a great place to be, and I am always intrigued to see business models of other sellers.

    Thanks for all the good info.

  2. Great post! I was wondering if you would share what percentages you pay your scouters and what their responsibilities are (who pays for the books them or you, do they take care of all listing and shipping themselves, etc.)?

    I’m getting my first buyer going, and would love some pointers on how to compensate etc.

    • I was also going to ask about how you track in Inventory Lab, but sounds like you use your own spreadsheet system.

    • Hey Mark,

      First off, Bryan Young is the expert on hiring scouters – you can check out his stuff over at profitsourcing.com.

      I provide the app and the scanner for my scouters, and train them as much as needed. They pay for their own books and list them into my account where I track their sales, reprice as needed, and do the other “business-y” stuff. I take 20% of sales and reimburse myself for the shipping costs only as their books sell. This ensures that they are profitable from their very first sale. It takes awhile for me to earn my money back initially, but over time we will both be profitable. I’m a big believer in the profit-sharing model as the harder they work, the more money they can earn! There are lots of models out there, but this is the one that has worked so far for me.

      • Awesome! Thanks. That is very similar to what I was planning to do, makes me feel like I might be on the right track.

        I agree profit sharing is the way to go, because it rewards the worker based their quality of work and the amount of effort they put in.

  3. Caleb,
    Gerat article. I tell everybody I sell books. I have a friend who gave me some for free and will be giving me more soon because she is moving out of state. Another friend asked me to see her Japanese books for her on consignment. They come from a Japanese elementary school. I never knew how much I would love doing this. I would also love a copy of that spreadsheet 🙂

    • Hey Turiya – that just goes to show that “everything is marketing”! I’m glad you were able to find some great books to sell. You can’t beat free books!

      I emailed you the listing spreadsheet. Hopefully it helps to streamline your process!

  4. Do you live in CO? I live down in castle rock.

  5. In one of the paragraphs you said that you “charge back to the customer as their books sell.” Could you explain to me in detail what you mean by that?

    • Hey Will – I was referring to how I pay my book scouters. They buy their own inventory, and I pay for the inbound shipping to Amazon up front, then charge back a prorated amount per book (the average shipping cost per book from that specific batch) when each book sells. That way I don’t end up eating all of the shipping costs, and it helps the scouters make money from their very first sale, rather than waiting for 5-10% of their books to sell to cover the initial shipping costs. I find that this model helps to motivate them right from the very beginning!

  6. Hi Caleb, your post has gotten me motivated to make 2016 a record breaking year for our book flipping business.

    Thanks for the great idea about selling books on consignment.

    Please let me know more about the accounting spreadsheet that you have created to help you keep track of all your different sources.

    Keep the awesomeness flowing

  7. I am just getting into selling books, but I would like to start using your worksheet from the beginning. Can you send that to me, along with any further advice? I did not see anything about how much you are charging for the worksheet.

    • Hey Davey,

      I’ll email you the listing spreadsheet. It’s free (for now), and I’m wrapping up an accounting spreadsheet so you can track all of your sales. Thanks for dropping by, and good luck as you get started on your book adventure!

      • Hi Caleb,
        Thank you for going to all the trouble to help us newby booksellers. I just found your posts yesterday and have been watching and reading since. I’d like to get a copy of your spreadsheet if I could. Thx again.

  8. Hi Caleb, I’m always interested in tools and would love to see your listing spreadsheet. Enjoy reading your posts!

  9. Just found your website and would love to see the listing spreadsheet mentioned. It would be very helpful for me to have a good system for tracking. Looking forward to learning more from you. Thank you!

  10. Hi Caleb, I just came across your website and it looks like a great source for selling books! Looking into adding that into my sourcing model.

    Could you also send me your listing spreadsheet? Looking forward to reading more of your posts.

  11. Caleb – Thank you for all the great information. I had been looking into FBA for some time and decided to take the plunge after finding your site. I am sending out my first boxes tomorrow – excited to get started and will be working towards the 100 book per week goal.

  12. Hi Caleb,
    Wish you a Happy New Year and all the best for your new self-employment! 200 books a week is quite a number. I’m right now at 20 ;-).

    I have seen your EFLIP Demo Video – wow great piece of software! I’m just wondering if it’s US-only or as well usable for the 5 European Amazon Marketplaces?

    Just in case you need a Beta-Tester in Europe as well as a Translation of your software in German, French or Spanish feel free to drop me a line …

    Anton

  13. I’ve been selling books online for years, very part time, and am wondering if FBA is a good choice when selling books that are each one a unique title and mostly not valuable. $6 to $20 books? I have about 1200 books in my inventory, and I’d be interested in your listing spread sheet also. I mainly buy books at yard sales or library booksales, but I’m also looking at your book flipping software. I’m just not sure I actually have the time to devote to it to be worth the monthly fee. Thanks, Dawn

    • Hey Dawn,

      FBA is a great choice for not only getting higher prices for your books (in most cases) but more importantly freeing up your time to focus on sourcing books, rather than fulfilling individual orders. I’ll email you the listing spreadsheet. If you’d like a live demo of eFLIP, let me know and I’d be happy to show you how to use it! If you can commit to buying 5 books each weekday with the software (this shouldn’t take more than 15-20 minutes once you get the hang of the software), you can source 100 books a month with eFLIP, making it well worth the monthly fee!

      Best,
      -Caleb

  14. Hey Caleb … my daughter (in college now) and I were thinking of starting an FBA business … over the last month I have been reading as much as possible and trying to digest it all 🙂 If you are still offering it, we would love to check out the spreadsheet.

    Any advice you can share for a complete newbie would be appreciated! What scares us the most is what the initial outlay for inventory may be, along with the tools that help make this a successful venture. We have very conservative income goals for the moment: 1) obviously first would be NOT losing money 🙂 and breaking even – after all expenses and initially we would love to be making $500 to $1000 a month, after all expenses. Realistic? I hope so! Obviously if all goes well, turn it into a full time operation so I can quit my job and she can pay her college off!!

    Anyway – sorry for the long post. Would love to see the spreadsheet and hopefully, eventually subscribe to the eFlip tool – when the income allows it 🙂

    Thanks in advance!
    Dave & Daughter

    • Hello Dave & Daughter – those sound like noble goals! I’m confident you can reach those if you stick with it. I’d be happy to chat with you over Skype if you’d like to bounce some ideas around. I’ll email you the listing spreadsheet and provide my Skype contact info there. Best of luck to you both!

  15. Hi. Thanks for all the great information. I’ve really been enjoying it and learning from it.

    If you are still sending out the spreadsheet, I’d love to have a copy.

    Thanks so much!
    Beth

  16. Hi Caleb. I’ve been following your post in the FB group and viewed your youtube video demonstrating your new listing spreadsheet. I’ve been selling books FBA for 5 months, and would appreciate a copy of your listing spreadsheet. I would really speed up the listing process since I am still doing “Add a Product” one at a time.

    Thank you!
    Cherise

  17. Hi Caleb, I just watched your spreadsheet video, it looks like a wonderful tool! There is so much to learn and so much to weed through that I keep getting sidetracked with more information. I am (finally) putting together my first shipment and hope I can work out the kinks as I go along. If you are still sending it out, I would love to have a copy of the spreadsheet.

    Thank you so much for all the information you share so generously, Lillian

  18. Hi Caleb. Loving your blog. All the info is very helpful and encouraging. I’m just starting to do some consignment work and must say I rather like it, thought I wouldn’t. I would be interested in using your listing spreadsheet and put me on your list for your accounting spreadsheet when you have it ready.
    Thanks!
    Sandra

  19. Hi Caleb! Thanks for the great information, it’s nice to see the amazing avenues of potential streams of income from books. We buy bulk by the pound and just started using neatoscan which has been a great experience so far. I would love to try using your spreadsheet for consignment purposes, I’m just wondering if you find it time consuming to track individual customer sales?
    Thanks again!
    Mary

    • Hey Mary – you’re one of the first people who has actually enjoyed their NeatoScan experience 😉  Greg Murphy treats them like a swear word, but it’s the best software out there for dealing with bulk books.  The consignment info is easy to track – simply put your customers’ names in as the “source”, select your commission percentage off the top or off of net profits, and the spreadsheet quickly spits out the rest and lets you know how much you owe them!  Check it out over at thebookflipper.com/track!

    • I’ll drop you an email with the info!

  20. Hi Caleb, I’m new to selling books on Amazon. I just sent in my first batch last week and already sold 2 books. I live in Lakewood, CO and would love to meet you and discuss what you are doing and what I am doing. I also want more information about your spreadsheet. I listened to the pod cast you just did and think you have some amazing insight and ideas. I hope we could meet sometime soon. Lorraine

  21. Hi Caleb,

    I heard your interview on Stephen Peterson’s ECommerce Momentum podcast and am ready to give the sourcing software a try. I have sold books on Amazon before, but found the sourcing a hassle – heavy competition at library sales, not much product at other value shops, along with not being around when these places are open due to work and commuting time. The software sounds like a great solution to be able to source when I have the time (evenings and weekends). Can you please send the listing spreadsheet? Thank you for your site and help!
    John

    • Hey John – I’m glad you enjoyed the interview.  It was a blast to put together!  You can download the spreadsheet at thebookflipper.com/track, and you can check out the sourcing software (eFLIP) at eflip.thebookflipper.com.  Let me know if you have any questions along the way!

  22. Interested in the accounting spreadsheat.

  23. I just happened upon your blog through a Bookseller Forum. Valuable information. I am just starting out as well and would love your spreadsheet. Thanking you in advance.

  24. Great info, Caleb. I’ve been selling books via FBA for almost a year part time. The spreadsheet you use sounds great.If you are still offering it, I would love to get it. Thank you and happy 2016!

    • Happy 2016 to you as well!  You can download the listing spreadsheet for free (and check out the Tracking Spreadsheet while you’re there) over at thebookflipper.com/track.

  25. I would like the spreadsheet too please.

  26. Hi Caleb,
    I’m new to sourcing and selling books. I love the consignment idea. I live in a college town and think this would be great. I’m also teaching my 7 year old the entrepreneur spirit and he loves sourcing with me and learning how to run a business.
    I would love a copy of your spreadsheet.
    Thanks for the great info. Keep up the awesome work.
    Martha

  27. Started reading your blog yesterday and was wondering… ‘when if the eFLIP software is going to come out?” LOL

    Little did I know that’s already out!

    I will definitely check it out. I would love to see some sort of app that incorporates sales history from Camelx3 without having to click an extra button for when I’m scouting by myself. I assume that will come later?

    Thanks!

    • Regarding your first question, yup – it’s already on the market! We’ll look for ya to try it out in the near future.

      It would indeed be awesome to incorporate a sales rank history within an app without additional clicks. If only someone would create an app like that… 🙂

  28. Thank you for your posting. It’s easy to understand and so helpful!

    I am new to selling books on Amazon. I’ve sent some ‘new’ and ‘used’ books to FBA. But, Amazon always has a buybox. so I haven’t sold even one yet even sales rank is high. In this case, How can I sell these books? I am so worried that it is never going to be sold.

    please help me! Thank yo^^

    • The buy box is a bit tricky with media, since Amazon doesn’t share it with new books. You can still get the used buy box if you are a professional seller and your metrics are good and your pricing is competitive. On the new items already in inventory, you may need to drop your prices a bit to incentivize buyers to pick yours over Amazon’s new items. Welcome to the world of bookselling!

  29. We just spoke over the phone I was at the bus stop picking up the kids so I forgot your email address so here is mine.

  30. Hi Caleb,
    Love your blog, very inspirational and got me started selling books FBA a few months ago. I started sending in about 300 textbooks and been having around 5 or 6 book sold a week. My goal for this year will be making around $1000 per month selling books. Based on your experience, how many books one needs to have in inventory to generate somewhat consistent sales every week (around $400 per week)?
    Should I venture out to regular books as well or just stick with textbooks? 95% of my book sourcing is online, I’m thinking about getting your eflip solfware to make things easier. However, my price has to be high enough since buying online is more expensive than in person.
    Would love to hear your recommedation.
    Thank you

  31. Hey Caleb! I’d be totally interested in that spreadsheet. I have my own, and I keep having to evolve it to grow with the business. I’m trying not to pay for accounting at the moment other than Tax Jar.

    I’d appreciate any help you could give with that!

  32. Hey Caleb,

    Really loving the value content and checking out the software tools you have available for sale.. One quick question. If I use the EFlip system to buy tons of books that I resell on the same account( I have a personal selling account). Will I get in trouble with Amazon? Im also building an LLC should I wait, and create a selling account with the LLC ?

    • Thanks for stopping by, Matt! You won’t get in trouble unless you are using your Prime benefits for resale purposes. If you’re buying MF books and flipping them, there’s nothing to worry about.

  33. Do you keep 20% of the sales price or 20% of the net profit after Amazon has deducted all of their fees?

    Thanks, love the blog!

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