A story of my recent (failed) attempt to source books to resell on Amazon by setting up a book collection box at a major university.
Why am I sharing a story of a failed book sourcing experiment?
I’m sharing this story of a failed book sourcing experiment for two reasons:
- The Amazon selling world is full of sellers posting their successes (and making the rest of us feel inadequate). I want to show that real Amazon sellers face a lot of failures as well.
- I think this is a totally viable tactic to find textbooks to resell on Amazon, and I plan to do it next year (and not fail this time).
The story of my failed “textbook drop” experiment
I’ve been dumpster diving since high school. One of the most spectacular experiences for any dumpster diver is the dorms at any major university during the end of the semester.
Discarded books (especially textbooks) are always in abundance. Dumpsters were one of my earliest book sources of books to resell when I started selling on Amazon in 2007 (when I was totally destitute and had no money for inventory).
This year, a friend (and fellow Amazon seller) and I weren’t going to be in town for the big weekend after the school semester ended (when most trash was discarded). We knew among that trash would be possibly thousands of books we could resell on Amazon, and regretted that we wouldn’t be there for it.
Our book sourcing scheme
So we came up with a cool plan.
We went to the U-Haul store, where I paid for the only box I’ve ever purchased in my life. Normally I would have dumpster dived a box as well, but we need something that looked very new. It was a box that sat vertical about 3 feet high. We cut a slot in the top and posted a sign on top that read “Place Books Here.”
We put the box in a dorm lobby, at an exit that led to what we determined would be the busiest dumpster that weekend. Then we left.
I was expecting a textbook goldmine, netting me thousands (particularly during the upcoming textbook season). The idea of course was that any student hauling their old books to the dumpster would see the box and comply with the signs request to put books in it.
A good idea for sourcing books to resell, gone wrong
Did this happen? We don’t really know.
When we came back 4 days later, our “book drop” box was gone.
Why I still think this is a great idea to source books to resell
I think most experiments aren’t really failed ones as long as you carry them out, and we get credit for trying. I don’t know what the fate of that box was, but there is no reason this couldn’t be done again very successfully.
Had I to do it again, I would place dozens of boxes around campus, weigh the boxes down with bricks, and check on them every day.
That’s the story.
The success, they say, is in the attempt. And next year I plan to use this tactic to score tons of books to resell, that otherwise would have been lost to the landfill…
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