How I became an Accidental Online Bookseller

Okay, that being said, you might be wondering who I am and how I became an online bookseller. Well, I’m a voracious reader and freelance writer who does not mind working hard, but hates working for others.

Me making a fool of myself in a silly pose.

Me making a fool of myself in a silly pose.

After losing my job in the economic meltdown back in 2008-2009, I decided to turn my back on the cubicle farms and become a full-time freelance writer. I also faced a real dilemma because the temporary office work I had been relying on to pay the bills was drying up.

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I needed to make some extra money. At the time, my mother was working as a librarian at a small-town library that sold used books as a fundraiser. The library had a huge pile of donated books, far too many to be sold at the yearly book sale. They needed somebody to try and sell books online, so I decided to give it a try.

An example of a book I sold online for good money. I pulled it out of a dumpster

An example of a book I sold online for good money. I pulled it out of a dumpster

I started fooling around with eBay and Amazon sales, and three years later, I discovered that I was making several hundred extra dollars a month. It became so profitable that I started scouring thrift stores, estate sales, and garage sales for books to sell. I even started yanking books out of garbage dumpsters.

Yes Selling Used Books Online is a Viable Business

Selling used books online has become a viable business for me, and it can become a viable business for you. So here’s the good news: if you are willing to devote some time and effort to it, do it right, and have some patience, you can make money as an online bookseller. Now here’s the bad news: you’re probably not going to make enough money to quit your job or shut down your other business and retire to Tahiti on the proceeds of your online book sales.


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You won’t get rich selling books online, but you can make $30 or $40 a day for a few minutes of work and have some fun. Note: there will be times when you sell four or five books a day and others when you might go several days without selling a thing. More importantly, you’ll be helping people find something they want and enjoy, namely books.

My System for Successful Online Bookselling

If you’re interested in the philosophy behind this book, check out Dilbert creator Scott Adams’ semi-autobiographical work How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. Adams recommends that people forget about goals and concentrate upon creating systems that enable them to constantly repeat small successes in a pattern designed to set oneself up for luck.

Systems encourage productive behavior because they provide a constant reward. To add icing to the cake, systems force you to deal with problems and solve them. Another advantage to systems is that they force people to concentrate on details, something vital for a big-picture thinker such as myself.

Another dumpster book sold for good money.

Another dumpster book sold for good money.

Systems also encourage planning, which is vital to success because planning forces you to think about what you’re doing. Plans are often worthless, but planning itself is invaluable because it helps you develop new capabilities and skills. It also encourages the accumulation of information, which is always vital.

My system involves learning the following important skills. If you master these, you’ll learn the basics of online retail:

  • Pricing
  • Listing
  • Shipping & Order Fulfillment
  • Customer Service

The really great thing about these skills is that you can apply them to other online sales, including antiques and digital products, as well as new items. That means you’ll get a basic course in online retail, and unlike a lot of the other online retail advocates out there, I’m not trying to sell you anything. In fact, I’m showing you how to get started without spending that much money.
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What I’m trying to advocate and demonstrate here is a pattern of book buying and selling that can set you up for further success. Think of it this way, if you keep going back and buying books, you’ll increase your odds of finding that $500 or $1,000 collector’s book. Even if you don’t find that big payday, you could still be making several hundred extra dollars a month.

 

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