January 31, 2023

When you are acim bookstore store and you begin seeking out the current selling price of used books, it’s a good idea to also review the sales rank of what those books are currently selling for online.

Every book for sale on Amazon is ranked as to how well it’s selling. You can find the sales rank in the product description details of every book. You can also see the sales rank as you are in the process of listing a book for sale in your Seller Account, as it will appear along the righthand side of the page near a summary of the low new/used pricing.

A good rule of thumb to remember: the lower the sales rank, the more likely that that particular book is selling. Not selling fast. Just selling.

You will not be privy to the actual rate of sales. But you’ll have clues if you are looking at a winner or a dud.

The twisted calculations that determine Amazon sales rankings tend to go off the tracks, though, when you start trying to interpret what a ranking of 250,000 really means, as opposed to a ranking of 1 million, 2 million or even higher.

Your best option: weigh the rank and the price point, but only assume that if the book has a ranking listed then that only means a person has placed an order for it. Period. Your only two relevant questions then remain: “Can I wait for a year or more for this book to sell?” and “Can I afford to hold onto this book that long?”

Used Book Inventory Return On Investment

Tying up $20 to buy a book and then warehouse it for several years, hoping for a sale someday, is one thing. But tying up 25 cents on a book is a no-brainer. If you can buy the hardcover or paperback for 25-50 cents, and the lowest used book selling price online is $8 or more, buy it. In due time you ought to get a nice return on investment (ROI) on your used book inventory. If the book never sells, well, you can always donate it, sell it at a garage sale, or bundle it with other books in a “lot” that you can sell on other websites.

My advice: If the selling price is high enough and your purchase price is low enough, you should buy it and list it. What you are looking for is a healthy spread between what you pay and what your book sells for.

Yes, that book may squat on your bookshelf just taking up space for a year or more, but think of it this way: if you bought the book cheap enough and it doesn’t take up much room, then when it sells it will feel like you’ve made free money.

Sometimes you’ll be making an educated guess to carry the book or not. Seasoned booksellers look at a book with a sales rank of five million, and knowing that book won’t fly off the shelf, they then consider the profit margin between what they are paying and what their net profit will be if and when it sells.

That’s the rub: inexperienced online sellers look at the sales rank and believe it’s in high demand, when in fact, the sales rank is simply tracking a number important to the top brass at Amazon.

Warning: If the book in question is about a subject which could lose popularity or public interest within a year — an example might be a fringe political candidate who is running for national office, or a book written by participants in a national disaster news story — the book could likely lose value simply because public interest wanes and the novelty of the subject matter is gone. Most of these types of books can morph into ‘Penny Books’ in short order.

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