Copyright 2006 Michael Mould

I have never been much of a fan of high-pressure sales; either as a salesman or as a consumer. In fact, if a salesman starts in on me trying to promote his product/service or tries to push me into selling his/her product/service, I immediately start to look elsewhere. I also don't like advertising that tries to instill a sense of urgency on my part to buy now with an exclusive offer that expires tomorrow. In all such cases I am reminded of a saying I once heard, "The deal of a lifetime comes along once a week." While the person that told me this was referring to a home purchase, I have found it to be quite applicable to many other offers in life.

It is with this perspective on home-based business "opportunities" that I set out to find one that I could do part-time to supplement my income, but one that could be scaled up if I chose to pursue it full-time. I found all the pill pushing, lotion promotion, potion sales, gadget gizmos, copy writing cons, affiliate networking, and other scams that I am sure you found too. Ultimately, I settled for online bookselling because it did not require me to buy an inventory from a con man or to sell my books through questionable channels. It also provides every customer with a product - presuming they are literate - that matches their expectations, and whether they enjoy the book or not, I don't have to worry about whether or not they lose weight reading it. I can sell through reputable online marketplaces like Amazon.com, Alibris.com, Half.com, and Abebooks.com, all of which are well known. I also found that it was a very inexpensive business to start and how I choose to expand it is up to me.

The business essentially works like this:

1) Buy used books (new too if you have good sources).

2) Grade the books, e.g., Good, VG, Like New, etc.

3) Determine the online value of the books.

4) List the books with an online marketplace.

5) Pack and ship the books when they sell.

The key to being successful is to know the value of the books you are considering for your inventory BEFORE you buy them. The process of finding good books is called book scouting. It involves the use of a cell phone or PDA to look up the book values using a scouting service, and determining if buying them will be profitable. The last thing you want to do is go out and buy a bunch of books, lug them home, and find out they only have a firewood value. Book scouting does not require any expensive tools to do either, just an Internet enabled cell phone or PDA and a service that allows you to enter an ISBN (or title/author for pre ISBN books) and this will cost about $10 per month for a good service. Don't get too wrapped up in the $10 per month cost, the service can easily pay for itself ten fold in a single one-hour scouting adventure. Yesterday, I picked up a book that another dealer had passed over because the scouting service they were using was not a very good one. I paid $1.99 for the book and it currently sells on Amazon.com for $194.42. Just selling this one book can pay for my marketplace listing fees and my scouting service for over three months, and it wasn't the only good book I found.

Once you have an inventory of 200 - 500 books, you can start a marketplace account and efficiently sell online. This requires that you enter your books into a database or spreadsheet and upload them to one of the marketplaces. Not too difficult, but it does require that you learn to price and grade your books, and there are acceptable standards for grading as well as some marketplace rules regarding the conditions that can be listed.

So, now you can start to recover the small investment that you have made by receiving orders from the marketplace with shipping instructions. You package your books and ship them to your customers. Payment to you is for the most part automated. Some marketplaces have direct deposit features, and some will mail you a check each week/two-weeks/monthly, depending on the marketplace.

This is no time to relax, you need to keep scouting for more inventory to replenish the books you sell and to grow your inventory to a level that provides the income you are looking to make.

There are many other nuances of the business that are easy to learn without having to do everything by trial and error, but you need to enjoy books, being around people that enjoy books, and spending time in places where they sell books if you want to enjoy this business.

The best part about the idea is that you don
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