My experiment buying 500 CDs to sell on Amazon: The positives & negatives of selling CDs on Amazon.
Buying a collection of 500 CDs on Craigslist
Every morning I check Craigslist for potential inventory.
This week, I answered an ad from someone selling “500 CDs for $100.” When I emailed for photos, it looked pretty appetizing: 10 boxes of CDs vaguely classifiable as “indie rock.” At $100, it came to 20 cents per CD.
I met the gentleman in a Starbucks parking lot and took the entire lot.
My general thoughts on selling CDs on Amazon
Going into this purchase, my experience selling CDs on Amazon has been limited.I’ve sold a “few” CDs, “here and there.” And that’s about it.
While my data set isn’t large enough to draw conclusions, my impression has been that it is hard to command a significant premium for FBA offers when selling CDs via FBA.
In other words, pricing significantly higher as an FBA seller has never worked for me.
I can’t remember an example of ever selling a CD on Amazon where my listing didn’t occupy the top spot. Making CDs very different than books.
My thought with this 500 CD lot was that the CDs were of genres that had a small but devoted audience (punk & indie rock), which would mean there probably wasn’t a glut of these CDs on Amazon.
“Weird and niche” is my general formula for books. And that fit this CD lot as well. So I took a chance.
The results of this 100 CD purchase
I went home and immediately began scanning each one into Amazon.
Of the 500 CDs, about 200 were what I deemed “sellable.” For me, that meant CDs I could list for $4.99 or above. In other words, CDs that had no FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) competition selling at below $4.99. Based on this criteria, 300 CDs immediately when into the junk pile.
Of the 200 CDs that remained, the vast majority were selling at a penny merchant fulfilled (FBM). I priced these at a flat $4.99 each via FBA (about $2 profit).
Total listing price for the 200 CDs was about $1,500. Even if they all sold, that’s only about $500 after fees. And I don’t expect all of them to sell. Looking at the average Amazon Sales Rank, I couldn’t be sure most would ever see a sale.
What are the results of the CD experiment?
For now, I’ll call the results of this CD experiment “lukewarm.”
I think this will be the last time I invest in a large lot of niche CDs. After several hours of listing and shipping, and the general uncertainty of being able to command a higher FBA price, my time would have been much better spent sourcing and selling books.
If I ever purchase a CD lot again, it will be with more mainstream artists (unlike books, where I find the money is in the more obscure subjects).
That concludes my experiment purchasing hundreds of niche CDs to resell on Amazon.
I’ve had good luck with classical CD’s and older CD’s from the 80’s. There is actually a weird collector market popping up and these seem to be the one’s that sometimes retain their value. I tend to think that classical CD’s will sell eventually and have a better chance of being bought by an institutional buyer or instructor that may pay more for FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon).
I buy CD’s all the time that sell, but I tend to purchase 1 at a time when I’m out scouting, not so much in lots. I’ve sold some used CD’s for $50-$75. This doesn’t happen as much as it does with books, but it does happen regularly enough that I keep buying them. I try to only buy CD’s that have a market fulfilled price of 4 or 5 dollars so that when I do get a sale I usually make at least 4 or 5 dollars on them with FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) (on average I’d say I probably make more like $6-7 but that has more to do with the stock I’m buying than anything).
I also have a JFJ Easy Pro to buff out scratches and bag each one with these resealable bags I found on eBay. I like to think of them as long-tail items in general, but they cost less to ship in for FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) fulfillment because they weigh so little and they take up very little room so storage fees are low and when they sell, you only get the minimum weight based fee. They are definitely more work than the average book the way that I do it, but I like to diversify my inventory. (Disclamer: I’m partial to them because I’m a musician and used to work for a record label, so I’m probably biased in their favor).
Another little tip, when you get a large quantity that aren’t worth anything, save the jewel cases. You can use them to bump up the condition of another CD that does have value, but has a damaged jewel case by swapping out the cases.
Patrick G says
Peter this post was from long ago
How about a follow up did you ever turn a profitable with your Cd’s sent in,, Did they ever sell. Are you looking for CD’s to sent in again ???
Peter Valley says
I definitely turned the corner on CDs since this was posted a couple years ago. I’m more selective now and keep to a rank better than 300,000, and they sell slowly but steadily.
Is there demand for adding CDs to Zen Arbitrage?
Peter Valley says
This is coming.