When in doubt, you can always bank on good old-fashioned books to bring home the bacon when you are in need of some fast cash!
You may have originally bought books for your own reading pleasure, but, as a commodity, they are relatively easy to sell when times are tight.
Then, of course, you might want to buy them specifically to sell on for a profit. The trick is to know a little bit more about your subject matter when buying a book, than the person who is selling the book.
Since my weekly eletter first started 18 months ago, I have featured various book genres which consistently generate good profits.
Some examples being:
- Educational books
- Modern First Edition books
- Local history books
- Corporate books
- Science-fiction books
In fact, there are tons of ways to extract profit from both new and second-hand books, but the problem these days is finding effective ways to source books at prices which leave a healthy profit margin when re-sold.
Yes, it’s true that there are many ‘online’ opportunities to source books, but by the time books are listed online, their net worth is usually already recognised and factored into the sale price. On top of that you have to consider postage as a further cost which can further erode your profits.
That’s why I like to source most of my books offline.
You are all probably aware of the traditional offline places to source second-hand books:
- Second-hand books shops – Sadly there are fewer and fewer left in business due to online competition.
- Charity shops – Oxfam is my favourite, as they tend to specialise in second-hand books.
- Car boot sales – There is always plenty of choice, but watch out for damp, musty and smelly books (from the rain shower that morning, or cigarette smoke), as well as books warped or faded by sunlight. Any or all of these conditions will affect your ability to re-sell.
- Village or school jumble sales – These events can produce some great book finds at fantastic prices. From the organiser’s point of view, space is more important than price, as their stock is mostly donated. Ideally they want to clear all their books by the end of the day, which is a great incentive to keep prices low.
I would like to offer two more unusual locations for sourcing second-hand books, which you might not be aware of…
National Trust properties – http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/
Someone high up in the marketing department of the National Trust must at some point have had an income-producing brainwave, and managed to convince management to set up in-house bookshops within most of their NT properties nationwide.
If you visit the NT website, a search for the term ‘bookshops’ will yield over 400 results, detailing the existing individual NT bookshops at locations spread all over the UK, not only a good source of income for the NT, but also for you and I.
Similar to charity shops, prices can sometimes be higher than you might find at a car boot for instance, but crucially, the quality of their books is extremely high. Effectively, they have done a lot of the sorting for us.
The shops are all very well stocked, mostly from local NT members and benefactors. As long as you are careful, National Trust properties are a very good source for quality books… oh, and maps too. People who visit and donate to the NT are, by definition, travellers!
Healthy Planet – www.healthyplanet.org
Books for Free… An amazing high street concept – an organisation which gives its products away for free!
Books for Free rescues unwanted books otherwise destined for landfill sites or pulping. Healthy Planet redistributes these books throughout communities via their 30+ volunteer-run Books for Free centres on high streets nationwide.
If you visit their website, you will find a link to a map displaying all their ‘free’ book centres around the UK. I notice however that they don’t yet have a presence in Scotland, Northern Ireland or much of the south west of England.
I suspect that their map is not completely up-to-date. I have a large high street Books for Free outlet close to where I live which doesn’t appear on their map, so hopefully there will be one springing up near you shortly.
My experience from visiting my local Books for Free, on numerous occasions, is a positive one. They are staffed by volunteers who are happy to receive as well as dispense unwanted books.
You are allowed to freely take away up to three books per visit. Their staff do like to stamp your chosen books with their logo, but are sensitive enough not to do so with older and more collectible books. They encourage donations, which go towards light and heating costs, but they don’t insist… it’s all very relaxed really.
All-in-all it’s a brilliant concept which gives books a new lease of life, which otherwise would be destined for landfill, which seems such a waste.
Did you know it takes the equivalent energy to pulp a book similar to one gallon of petrol required to power a car?
Note: In my new website The Profit Box, you will find blueprints specifically about profiting from books, along with copies of my previous book-related eletter blog posts.