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Selling On Amazon

Week 3 - How to source books for Amazon FBA in Half The Time

Welcome back to week three of the 100 Book Challenge. If it is your first week joining us, go to or just click on the link in the description of this video to learn about what the challenge is. Those of you coming back, this is my week three update, which was a big success. I got twice as many books in half the amount of time, almost tripling my accept rate, coming home with 114 books. In this update, I'll show you exactly what I did and exactly how you can do the same thing.

Okay, before I get into the details of how I got twice as many books in half the time, let me go over the numbers for week three, just the overview numbers, so you can see how it went. First of all, I scanned 3,825 books. If you remember from the first two weeks, my first week was somewhere around 7,100. The second week, last week, was around 7,900, just under 8,000 scans. Only scanning 3,000 books this week, and coming home with more books than I had the previous weeks, obviously I changed something, and it wasn't just the locations I went to, so 114 books. The accept rate came out to 3% for week three, over 1% the following two weeks, so pretty good jump.

My list price for week three was $2,659, which I believe was the highest it's been from previous weeks; I've got to double check on that, but I believe the list price, the highest at $2,659. The average list price per book was $23.30, coming in at a total profit of $1,270. My cost per book was a little bit more than last week at $2.50, and my profit was also a little more than last week, at an average of $11.14 for every single book that I brought home.

Now, if you remember, I said that if you want to be successful at this 100 Book Challenge, you want to aim for about $1,000 or more in estimated profit each week, because we're not going to be selling all of those books, and so I'm happy with $1,270 estimated profit. That's where I want it to be, to give some wiggle room. Some books won't sell. Some books will go down in price, and so I want to give some margin there, which we will actually need to hit our goal for the 100 Book Challenge, that first 90 days.

Now that you've got an update, now onto the good stuff of how I got more books in half the time, which I was really excited about, because the first two weeks, I spent a lot more time than I had originally expected scanning books. Scanning 8,000 books takes a little while. We talked about time a little bit in the last episode, so look at that and how long it takes, if you haven't watched the last update I gave. I started thinking about the 80/20 rule and trying to figure out ways that I could optimize my time, optimize how many books I was scanning, and still hopefully get my goal of 100 books a week.

What I noticed, looking through all the books that I'd gotten last week, and even a little bit I've noticed the first week, is that a lot of them had the same color tags on them. If you go to thrift shops and libraries ... A lot of you probably already know this, but a lot of you maybe haven't even paid attention. They know what books to pull off the shelves and what books to put on the shelves by the colored tags. Normally they do it on a three-month cycle or a four-month cycle, so let's say January is pink. March is purple, with the different colors for different months. That way, when they know four months has gone by, they can pull all that color tag off the shelves, put all new color tags on the shelves.

What I'd notices was about, not even 80%, but 90% of the books that I was taking away from a location all had the same color tags, and of course, it happened to be the current month's tags, because less people had scanned those books. There was less opportunity for people to go there and take those books, so those happened to be the most profitable books almost every single time left on the shelves. Very few times, I'd get other color tags, because they've been there for a month, two months, four months, so people have had a lot of time to scan those. A lot of the profitable ones have already been taken, so there's not much there. There are going to be a few, but not a ton, and I figured out they accounted for most of the books.

If you looked through it, a lot of the current month's books are still being put out, so there's not a ton of them. There's a lot more from the past two, three, and four months. I decided to do an experiment this entire week, and I decided I wasn't going to budge from it. I was going to do it the entire week and see what happened. Everywhere I went, I only scanned the current month's tag. If I didn't know what it was, I would ask one of the employees. I'd figure out what it was, and I'd skip over every single book unless it had the current month's tag on it.

Now, what I did before was just scan every book. I'd start with the most profitable sections, and if I had time, I'd go all the way down to the least profitable sections, scanning everything, because I knew I wanted to take everything that had profit off of those shelves. If you have time to do that, and you feel like that's the best use of your time, then go ahead and keep doing that, but I didn't want to spend that much time, considering most of the books I could pick out already.

The entire week, I only scanned ones of the current month's tags. As you can tell, I scanned about half as many books, because there weren't as many of those books, and I got more books actually than I had the first two weeks, because I was getting a higher accept rate. I was able to get through more sections. I was even able to get to most of the fiction sections sometimes, because I'd just go through and pick out the current colored tags and leave everything else behind, unscanned, get out of the store and maybe even hit another location in the amount of time it would've taken me to just do one location.

I personally feel like that's a better way for me. I want to do a little less time out there scanning, spend a little more time with my family after I'm done with work, and still get the same amount of books. For me, it's a win. I'm going to do this again next week and see if I have the same results. I'm going to look for those colored tags.

Now, maybe your stores don't do it, but I imagine they have some way of figuring out which books have been there longer, which ones haven't. A lot of our stores have a pink tag like this, or a purple tag, blue tag, whatever it is. You can see the month. Some nice stores put it over the edge right here, so you can see it without having to pull out the book, but if it's not on the edge, I just finger through the books, flip them over. As soon as I see the colored tag, pull it out, scan it, put it back.

Some of the other bookstores I saw had little tiny colored dots on the corner of the edge of the book, which is also their way of marking the books. If your stores have that, if your libraries have that, I recommend just doing that as an experiment. If you're used to scanning everything, maybe try just scanning the color tag of the month, and see if you have the same amount of books you take away from a location. I imagine it's going to be pretty close to the books you would normally take in, and you're going to be taking about a quarter of the time you did before, since those books aren't as prevalent on the shelves.

Give that tip a spin this coming week. See if you save time. See if you have more books coming in. I hope it helps you like it did me. I'm going to be going and trying to build some relationships this coming week, see if I can maybe make it even more efficient than I did this week, try and get those 100 books even faster. I hope you have a good week four scouting, and good luck.

Written by
Matthew Osborn
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