Friday, October 22, 2010

What is it like to sell used books for a living?

Tyler Cowen linked to this fascinating article on the life and work of a used-book salesman:
There is competition in the used book game because it is actually possible to make a living doing what I do. I see my adversaries packing their hauls into decent cars, sometimes with the help of family members. A good load of books found all of a sudden might be resalable for many hundreds of dollars. With diligence, someone working alone can make $1,000 per week; with a more insane commitment, or with the help of a wife or child, the business might yield more, especially once a sizable inventory has been built up.
The author of those words works up to 80 hours per week scanning books, but a thousand dollars per week ($52 K / year) is a pretty decent business considering the amount of training someone would need to get into such a job.

On the job, he has picked up some interesting insights. Indeed the whole article is worth a read. Here is my favorite quote:
To increase your odds, it's important to maintain a territory. There are certain stores I go to almost every day. This behavior starts a positive feedback loop: If other buyers find little to their liking, they'll show up less frequently, and I'll get even more.

1 comment:

  1. I would love to sell books online for a living but right now it's just not cutting it. When you get larger (over $10K in sales a month) the expenses start to add up a little and it makes it harder to profit more. I think I've crossed over the hobby and into a business. :)

    - Adam


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