My best source of books to resell on Amazon is one that 99% of FBA sellers are afraid to touch: dumpster diving
My #1 book source has been a secret
I’m about to give away my #1 secret source for used books to resell. I have more lucrative Amazon inventory sources, but this one is by far my favorite for a couple reasons.
- The books are 100% free.
- It’s simply the most fun.
Okay, what is my #1 book source?
It’s a library dumpster.
In a recent article, I talked about a friend who is making $40,000 a year on Amazon selling books he retrieves from dumpster diving.
My dumpster yields don’t even bring me close to those Amazon payouts. But each month, a single library dumpster pays my rent (and a little more).
(If it surprises you that libraries throw away books, it shouldn’t).
Since the very beginning of my Amazon bookselling career, dumpster diving has been a core inventory source.
How I dumpster dive books at the library
If you think this is some kind of ninja mission involving ski masks and/or dressing up like a bush before ambushing the dumpster like a native attacking a tank, it’s not like that.
The “dumpsters” are actually giant recycling bins on wheels. They are kept on a loading dock around the side of a library located in a fairly wealthy neighborhood.
I pull up at night, and back my truck up to the loading dock. Then I wheel each recycling in to the edge of the loading dock and dump the books directly into my truck.
At two trips a week, I pull hundreds of books from this dumpster every month.
What does the library throw books away?
First, there are the library discards. These are books that are culled from the library stacks, and taken out of circulation. This represents about 15% of the books in the dumpster. 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 other 85% of the books are what’s most interesting. These are the books various volunteers deem unsellable at the library’s bi-annual book sale. Their library sale room is not big enough for all the books that get donated. So they make severely arbitrary (and totally bizarre) decisions about what makes it onto the library book sale floor, and what gets thrown out.
One example of the books they throw away
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 next year – the books were so new, they hadn’t even been released yet (they must have been promo copies).
Between all the books thrown away for both of these reasons, on average, I’m able to pay my rent each month entirely with books dumpster dive at this library.
What’s the lesson for Amazon sellers?
If you’re selling books on Amazon, what’s the lesson?
I have no idea if your local library throws books away, so the message here is not necessarily “dumpster dive at the local library.” Chances are, your library is nothing like mine.
The lesson is: Get creative with your Amazon sourcing. Even if it means putting on a headlamp and sneaking down an alley at midnight.