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 21-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 – firstname.lastname@example.org. 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!