Mistakes and lost money

Gauging the value of a book for your Amazon FBA Store

What gives a book value?

If you’re out at a Library Book Sale and you find a really popular book, does that mean it’s a great book to sell in your Amazon FBA store?

Envision my husband and I at the first such sale we attended. It was HUGE!

To tell the truth, we got there a little early and even then there was a line of at least 200 other people already there. When they let us in, we were so overwhelmed by the crowd and by the rows and rows of books. Some of them moved right into swooping books off of the tables. PBA and I kind of looked at each other with a deer-in-the-headlights look in our eyes.

We really didn’t know where to start. Which books were the “money” books?

Thankfully, we had a tool that would tell us what the selling rank was for each of the books when we scanned the ISBN number (you can take a look at the tool we now use, in-action, here.) The scanner told us whether the book we were scanning was a great seller on Amazon and without it, would have been completely in the dark. At least we knew what books had as much chance of selling as we had of buying the winning the lottery.

So the ones that had a great ranking were a sure value, right?

No, not necessarily. Having a great ranking means a book has the potential to sell quickly, but there are at least two other metrics to look at:

  1. How many of those books are currently being offered at Amazon?
  2. What is are the prices on the first page of other FBA sellers?
  3. Does Amazon offer it new for less than I can sell it in good/used condition?

As you can see those are very important question. When it comes to textbooks the amount and value of a book can vary based on whether you’re in Textbook Season or not. You need to understand the long-term value of a textbook and note how its pattern of rising and falling for the past year or so to know it’s value for sales on Amazon.

How I used to view value in a book (and I still sort of do.)

I place value in books I like, which are interesting, encourage me or those which hold fond memories for me (Like the one shown on the header of this page.) My husband introduced Calvin and Hobbs to me when we were dating. I bought him a copy about three years ago for his birthday. It looks really worn because it has been enjoyed by even my youngest daughter since she was four.

There is no way that this Calvin and Hobbs book has value in our Amazon FBA store (It’s been well loved and well used.) We still love it. It has intrinsic value. 🙂 We don’t value it for reasons related to money or business.

I’ve had a lot to learn about judging the value of a book as it relates to Amazon FBA:

  1. You don’t want to try to guess value without the proper tools.
  2. Intrinsic value isn’t the same as resale value.

Occasionally I browse through the books on our “to be shipped in to Amazon FBA” table. Some are really interesting. The bulk of them look like quite a snooze(and I suspect that the students required to read them thought the same.) But the books to be shipped out are the ones that passed the test and are valuable (for our business!)

When we’re at a book sale (as we’re scanning the books,) I mentally guess which ones I think will be good sellers.

If we’re in the historical biography section I sometimes guess right (about fifty percent of the time.) I’ve got a much lower record in the other sections.

When it comes to the other questions (whether we’d make any profit on those well-ranked books in terms of price and demand), well, I just generally have no clue. Maybe about ten percent of the time I guess right. It’s kind of fun to guess (like gambling with M&Ms on the line,) butI wouldn’t want to back my guesses with our money or our business.

What would be the BIG mistake?

Trying to determine the value of a book in our Amazon Store without the proper tools at our disposal!

We would be lost without the tools we use and we’ve gotten better tools in some cases (and learned to use them better.)

If you’re interested in learning about the tools we depend on, then sign up for our course called Basic BIBS (BIBS stands for Building of Internet Book Selling.) Not sure your ready to sign up for a Basic BIBS membership yet? Find out more by clicking on the  button below!