How to separate the obsolete books from ones that will actually sell on Amazon.
Readers of this site know I am a proponent of two closely linked things:
- The theory that “almost everything sells on Amazon, eventually.”
- Not being intimidated by Amazon sales rank’s in the 1 million+ range.
Being misunderstood (what else is new)
Unfortunately, my message seems to be misunderstood more often than not, so this is an article to set the record straight: There are 1 million+ ranked books on Amazon that will sell, and 1 million+ books that won’t. This is is how you tell the difference.
After writing about the two aforementioned points, I’ve received a lot of misguided messages from Amazon sellers that fall in one of two categories:
“Thanks for the advice! I found a Apple IIe manual from 1982 selling for $50 on Amazon! Can’t wait for it to sell!”
Or,“So I followed your advice six months ago, bought a hula hoop exercise guide for $10 that is selling on Amazon for $40, and it hasn’t sold. You were wrong.”
I realized some basic points had been missed, and some clarification is in order. So here it is:
The three-part “Obsolescence Filter Test”
First, understand there is such a thing as a poorly-ranked, obsolete, forgotten book that will never sell ever again. Amazon is full of them.
So I’m offering this quick, three-question test you can apply to any 1 million+ ranked book that appears to have value on Amazon.
If any of the following apply, do not bring a book in the 1 million+ sales rank range into your inventory :
1. The book has a more recent edition.
This doesn’t just apply to textbooks. There are many books that are revised and updated over the years. If you find a copy of “Rock Hounding in Mississippi, 2nd edition” and it’s going for $30 used, yet you see they’re up to a 5th edition, walk away. It’s not selling.
2. The book is on a non-estoteric subject AND has 5 or fewer used offers.
This is basic supply-demand economics. You can’t trust an Amazon price when there are 2 or 3 offers, because there isn’t enough competition to get that book down to a price that the market can bear. You will see books selling for $50 and up all the time that also only have 1 or 2 competing offers. You can assume books like this have an artificially high price.
Note that this is not the case when the book in question is so esoteric that there is no other book on this planet that can replace it. In that case, the next time someone wants a book on voodoo rituals in southern New Guinea, they have to buy your copy. I’ll have no problem asking $100, even when I’m the only seller on Amazon. The buyers simply don’t have a choice.
3. The book is obsolete.
That’s great that by some odd glitch in the Amazon ecosystem you found a microwave repair guide from 1984 that is listed at $149, but guess what? It’s not selling. And you shouldn’t have needed me to tell you that.
If none of these three apply, and your profit margins are good enough, you may have a winner. Even if the book is ranked 5 million.
And if one of these does apply, I apologize for dashing your hopes about that “How to start your own 1-900 number business” guide from 1981 selling for $200, but someone had to do it.Also, claim your free book: