A seven-step guide to finding book sources using Book Sale Finder (.com) – and how to use the biggest library book sale database.
Video: Tricks to get the most from Book Sale Finder (.com)
What is Book Sale Finder (.com)?
BookSaleFinder.com is the original online source of library book sales. It’s the resource that has seemingly always been, and always will be. It was how I found my first library book sales when I sold my first books in 2007. And it’s still here today.
(2007 feels like the dark ages of Amazon selling, but I looked up when Book Sale Finder launched, and it was around a full decade before that – in 1997. Crazy.)
What I respect most about Book Sale Finder is how consistent it is. It does one thing (aggregate library book sales). It does it well. And it doesn’t care about “expanding” or “changing with the times.” In fact, the website has barely changed in over 15 years.
Here’s what I saw when I first looked that the site in 2007:
And look at Book Sale Finder today:
Know your roots: How BSF built a generation of Amazon sellers
When I got started, Book Sale Finder was the source for finding book sales. Some libraries didn’t even have websites (but most did – I haven’t been selling that long), so some sales weren’t even advertised online. On top of that, there just weren’t the resources for Amazon sellers that exist now. Book Sale Finder was almost all we had.
What about today? If you’re a newer seller, I confess to not knowing the role Book Sale Finder has in the current landscape of newer sellers. There’s so many online resources for Amazon sellers now, that I have to wonder if newer sellers appreciate the value it offers.
So if you don’t know about Book Sale Finder, you should.
Are library book sales even good book sources?
I always call library book sales a “low hanging fruit” source for Amazon sellers. Every seller – from full-time to weekend warrior – comes out for the library book sale. They are the lowest common denominator of book source.
In fact, there are a lot of sellers who only go out to library book sales. These are usually the very part-time sellers, but I’ve also heard of full-time sellers who only source from library book sales (and drive a ton of miles each year to stay busy).
But are they good book sources? Absolutely. Despite the competition, there’s still tons of money in library book sales. (Especially if you can find a book sale not listed on Book Sale Finder. More on that in a second…) Whatever downside exists to library book sales in the form of increased competition, they make up for it in volume. I.e. library sales are going to simply have more books in one place than almost any other source.
Upsides of library book sales:
- Lots of books.
Downsides of library book sales:
- Happen infrequently.
How Book Sale Finder works
Book Sale Finder does just does one thing: Provides a state-by-state directory of three library-based book sources. That’s it. No frills. No “diversification” as years go on. They do one thing and do it very consistently.
The sources they catalog are:
- Library book sales (the main one)
- Ongoing library book sales (libraries that sell books on an ongoing basis)
- Library book stores (full book stores that exist inside libraries)
How most sellers use Book Sale Finder
The basic version is this:
- Go to BookSaleFinder.com
- Pick your state (or neighboring states).
- Browse the listings.
And that’s how most Amazon sellers use BSF. But there’s more to it.
Seven tricks to get the most out of Book Sale Finder
Nothing I’m sharing here is a crazy hack or Jedi-level. But if you’re not checking Book Sale Finder regularly, it’s probably because you’re not doing all of these things (and you should start)…
#1: Bookmark the special link to view Book Sale Finder on mobile
If you entered the BSF URL into the browser on your phone, you’d be directed to a shrunk down version of the regular website. This site is almost unreadable and requires a lot of zooming-in to read.
Here’s the trick: You want to bookmark the following URL on your phone:
This is a link to mobile-friendly version.
This isn’t a secret hack I figured out. Book Sale Finder does advertise it in a small banner ad on the sidebar of the home page. But it wasn’t until recently I noticed it, and I suspect almost no one else is catching this either.
#2: Search for sales in a 100 mile radius on your phone
Now that you have a mobile view, you have the option to seeing all upcoming sales within 100 miles of your location.
The only limitations over the website are that 1. You’re limited to 100 miles, and 2. You’re limited to sales within the next two weeks.
If you can accept these limitations, it’s a better and more organized option than the desktop version.
Bonus: There is also a tab to see all library bookstores within 100 miles.
#3: Use the library book sale map (not easy to find)
It’s no secret that I’m generally slow and clueless about most things, but it took me YEARS to notice that Book Sale Finder had a map view (in addition to the regular list view).
Look for this graphic and click on it:
I accept this is probably not news to most people (I’m usually the last to know), but I’m not kidding: I think I missed this for 5+ years (no idea how long this feature has been a thing). So maybe others missed it as well.
My only grievance with this map is that it only shows library sales up to two weeks away. Beyond that, you have to look at the text-only directory.
#4: Sign up for the “Sale Mail” email alerts
Book Sale Finder has an email alert feature called “Sale Mail.” You enter your email, your zip code, and tell them how far you’re willing to travel for a sale. Then, a week before the sale, you’ll get an email alerting you with all the info (time, address, etc).
The reason this option is (in some ways) a better option than visiting the site directly is that it automates the identification of sales in proximity of you.
#5: Short on time? Focus on short list of sales (the box at the top)
It’s easy to get lost on Book Sale Finder, so if you’re only looking for upcoming library book sale (and no other source), focus solely on the box at the top of the page when you click on your state.
Not trying to insult your intelligence here, but the layout of BSF can get overwhelming. So if you’re at all confused, just focus on this and ignore everything else.
#6. Want to go deep? Skip to the full book source list
Follow this if you want to go deep into every book source in your state: The irregular library sales, the ongoing sales, and the library bookstores.
The different sales and library book stores are grouped by category, and it can get confusing.
So here’s a link to see everything in your state in one place:
https://www.booksalefinder.com/<insert two-letter state code>.html#browse
Insert your two-letter state code in the URL, or just look for this link:
#7: Give priority to any library sale not on BSF
What?! Here’s what I mean…
This last trick is relevant to anyone in either of these categories:
- You find yourself in the privileged position of having multiple library book sale options.
- You don’t go to library book sales because of the competition from other Amazon sellers.
If either of these apply, here’s what to do…
Do your own research on library sales in your area. When you find one, cross-reference it with Book Sale Finder. When you find a sale not listed, always give it priority.
Book Sale Finder doesn’t have every sale. But for a ton of Amazon sellers, their book sale research starts and end there. That means if a sale is not on Book Sale Finder, it is likely to be greatly under-attended (or completely unattended) by other sellers.
Have multiple options? Go to the one not listed on BSF.
Hate the competition of most sales? You might be surprised to find no other sellers at sales not listed on Book Sale Finder.
Homage to a legendary site for Amazon sellers
In the Amazon world, sites, tools, groups, “gurus,” etc come and go. I can think of no other resources that has been around since I sold my first book on Amazon (and a decade before that).
Book Sale Finder truly is a legendary resource (please use it).
PS: One of the paid ads you’ll see on every page is this one, for the Gainesville Friends of the Library book sale. I went to this last year. It’s insane. Probably the biggest sale I’ve been to.
PPS: Cool interview with one of the founders of Book Sale Finder with some interesting insights into the business side of library book sales.