I’m giving away my #1 secret source for used books. I have more lucrative sources, but this one is by far my favorite for a couple reasons. One, the books are free. Two, its just the most fun.
It’s a source I could even give away the address of and not worry about anyone going there, because when I tell you what it is, you’re probably recoil.
It’s a dumpster.
Earlier in the month I mentioned an upcoming blog post from a friend who is making $40,000 a year through dumpster diving. My dumpster yields don’t even bring me close to that, but I’m very familiar with this sourcing tactic. (Tell-all guest post from my friend coming when he gets it to me).
As for my dumpster source, it’s a library dumpster. I go there at night, back my truck up, and load it with books. At two trips a week, I pull hundreds of books from this dumpster every month.
Why would the library throw away literally a thousand or more books a month?
First, there are the library discards. This is about 15% of the books. These aren’t just books too old to be relevant. Often when a book gets a little worn, they will just toss it, even if its in high demand (I found a copy of The Hunger Games there a few weeks ago).
But the vast majority of the books are titles deemed unsellable at their bi-annual book sale. The library is in a wealthy neighborhood, and their sale room is not big enough for all the books that get donated. What’s better, one way they make room is to throw away every textbook that gets donated. No kidding. The donors aren’t aware that their often expensive and current textbooks are going right into the trash. To know that you’d have to be the guy going back there at night and looking. That’s me.
Case in point: Two months ago I pulled a box of textbooks that were so current, they had a copyright date of 2013. This was in 2012 – the books were so new, they hadn’t even been released yet (they must have been promo copies).
What’s the lesson in this? I have no idea if your local library throws books away, so the message here is not necessarily “source books from the library dumpster.” Chances are, your library is nothing like mine.
The lesson probably is: Get creative with your sourcing. Even if it means putting on a headlamp and sneaking down an alley at midnight.