How I knew 10 books with terrible Sales Rank’s would still sell.
(Get past the boring title and subject matter and there’s a valuable lesson here, so take this bitter pill. You may even enjoy it.)
I took a road trip to Iowa recently, and on the return trip I made a few book stops. One library I stopped at had an ongoing book sale, where I found a collection of books that presented an interesting test for any
Here was the dilemma:
The books were a series of spiral-bound titles on effectively homeschooling your child. On the surface, this seemed like a no-brainer: Stay away. No reasonable
For one, four of them had NO Sales Rank. Meaning they had NEVER sold a single copy on
Two, the other six had Sales Ranks between 6 million and 8 million. Meaning, these hadn’t sold in a loooong time. Years. Sales Rank bottoms out at 13 million, so this is almost as bad as it gets.
Three, they were $6 each. That’s much higher than most sellers are used to paying for individual books, myself included.
Bad, horrible, worthless books.
I bought all ten.
Am I mad? Probably. But there is a method to my madness. Here’s why I did it, and what I was thinking:
First, every book was dated 2010. This isn’t exactly new, but it’s not old. Being recent books is not in and of itself an indicator books will sell, but in this case it was the most important factor.
Second, the books emanated “quality.” Experienced booksellers know what I’m talking about. At a glance, you can tell if a books is a low-quality hack job, or something that offers real value and high-quality content. These were the latter.
Third, NONE of the books had any current offers on
Together, these three factors indicated to me the Sales Rank’s didn’t tell the whole story. In fact, they told the wrong story.
Based on all the information, my theory was that there was a pent-up demand for these titles. Put another way, there were people who wanted to buy them, but couldn’t because there were none listed. It was a risky theory, but not that risky. Just sixty-dollars-risky.
I put down the $60 and bought all ten.
Testing my wildly unrealistic theory
I listed them for $49.99 each.
Generally, I would list any book for which I was the only seller at $99.99, then sit back and wait for a buyer. In this case, I had some money tied up in them so I wanted a quicker return on my investment. And the Sales Rank’s were so bad, I felt $99.99 was just slightly too bold.
The results (Spoiler alert: I was vindicated)
All ten books sold within a month. One buyer bought five in one purchase, and the rest sold almost as quickly. That’s about $400 profit on books most other sellers would tell you “will never sell.”
It feels good to be right.