I pull over 100 poorly ranked books from a dumpster and list for sale on Amazon FBA. Six months later, here are the sales results.
The Library Trash Experiment
The secret’s out: I love reselling books I find in dumpsters.
Several months ago, I did a post on rescuing over 100 books from the university library dumpster. This library was (and still is) in the midst of a massive book purge (sadly, to make way for more computers), and I am perhaps the largest (and only) beneficiary.
I.e. they throw their books in the trash, I retrieve them, and then I sell them on Amazon.
Recap: My dumpster diving book heist from last summer
Before I go over the results of this experiment, here’s a recap of that haul:
- Total number of books: 112 books
- Total transport and listing time: 4 hours
- Average Amazon Sales Rank (BSR): Approx. 4 million
- Total listing price: $5,900
Now, nearly all the Amazon FBA “experts” out there would tell you to never ship in a book ranked 4 million. Most of them will tell you not to mess with anything ranked worse than 1 million. My experiment with this shipment offers a different lesson.
Results of my dumpster diving experiment: 7 months later
- Total books from this shipment sold: 32
- Total selling price: $1,278.85
- Price of most valuable book sold: $499.99
- Approximate net profit: $767
What this teaches us about selling books with bad Amazon sales rank
A couple lessons here:
1. Poorly ranked books sell with FBA
One, almost exactly one-third of these books – with an average Amazon Sales Rank of 4 million – sold in 7 months. I think most Amazon sellers would be in disbelief over this. The common perception is that a book ranked 4 million on Amazon will “never sell.”
This haul contained the most obscure, esoteric books imaginable. And I’ve been averaging over one sale a week.
2. The Amazon payouts doesn’t lie
Take a look at that Amazon payout figure: $767. That’s for 4 hours work. If you’re doing the math, that’s almost $200 an hour.
Someone should forward this post to the “FBA experts” who tell you not to bother with books that have an Amazon Sales Rank (BSR) worse than 1 million.
No book is too obscure to sell FBA. The importance of Amazon sales rank is greatly overstated. If the book has “on paper” Amazon-value that allows for huge profit margins, no Amazon sales rank should be poor enough to matter.
Most books (that are non-fiction, and do not have a later edition available) will sell on Amazon eventually.
R. Savage says
If I can ask?
What are you doing with long term storage fee books if they don’t sell in a year.
Peter Valley says
I don’t have more than 100 or so items at any time that I have multiples of, so this hasn’t been a huge consideration for me personally. When it is an issue, I just do that math and if I decide I’m going to lose money, I place a removal order.
Peter-Have you gotten feedback indication Amazon is loosening up in rejecting certain books-ASINs? Thanks. Murray
How do you list books so fast. I cant imagine being able to list 112 booka in that short of time.
Being that this post is almost two years old now, being that it was featured in a current email blast, I would love to hear an update on the numbers…
Ditto what Squid says. I just read this in an email yesterday. What was the title that sold for $499.99? How you priced it and how/why it sold is a story in itself. Thanks Peter
Peter Valley says
I’m deciding what my next article should be, and maybe I’ll make this the subject?
Very interesting. I find the numbers puzzling, though… If you’re a one-man band and you pulled the books from a trash bin, how did you manage to waste $511 and only end up with $767 net profit? Sorry if this question is too personal but I find it mind-boggling.
Peter Valley says
That’s called “Amazon commissions.”