Friday, May 8, 2009

Fighting Foreclosure with Snowballs

One of my favorite methods of getting nine hundred dollars each month is through my online book sales. Okay, selling books on Amazon and isn't going to make me wealthy or keep me out of foreclosure. In fact, my best months have brought me between $60 - $70 per month, and most months are quite a bit less. Still, I find it to be worth it. For one thing, small amounts of money can certainly add up, and for another, used books have always been near and dear to my heart. I have always dreamed of owning a used bookstore or working in a library, and in this small way, I do.

My basement book selling area has shelf after shelf of books - I typically have around 300 up for sale at any one time, plus some DVDs, CDs and a few other odds and ends. The books have come from a variety of sources. I've bought some at garage sales and used book stores, though by far, the majority have come from my own library and donations from friends and family. In fact, a girlfriend of mine just donated a nice big box of books to me the other day. They are books she probably would have donated, but instead she gave them to someone she knew who needed them to help keep herself afloat - me. As I have mentioned many times here on Fighting Foreclosure, I have the best friends in the world!

Sales have been pretty low the last two months, but here we are, just 7 days into May, and already I have had 3 sales. I don't have any proof of this what-so-ever, but I get the feeling that the websites "pay attention" to active and inactive accounts. Here's what I mean...

It seems like when I am busy posting books online, sales come rolling in. When I take a break, sales stop. For example, in February I was extraordinarily busy, so I didn't list as many new books on the sites as I would like. In return, my sales were half of what I am used to. In March, when I got slow, sales picked back up. That month a friend of mine's mom donated a couple of grocery bags of books to my cause and I spent some serious time putting them up - and my sales went up. Last month I was crazy busy and, sure enough, sales were down.

Now, this would seem obvious - put new books on and those books sell, right? No big mystery there, except... the books that sell aren't always the new listings. For example of the three books that I sold in the last two days, two were listed last August and one was listed in January of this year. Unlike on eBay, where listings are only up about a week, on Amazon and Half you never know when a particular book might sell. I've had them sell in less than an hour and I have some I listed almost a year ago that haven't found their new home yet. So, I don't know if the increase in sales is due to some sort of web monitoring that pays attention to how often I am logging in and somehow gives the active user preference, or if by the simple act of concentrating on it I am using the power of attraction to draw sales to me. It's a puzzle, an interesting one.

You know, there are a lot of blogs that talk about about snowflaking, (getting small amounts of money and putting it towards towards your debt.) One of the things that doesn't get mentioned much is that snowflake money is often fun. Whether it is filling out surveys or turning in your spare change, there is something really satisfying about getting $5 out of nowhere. It is like a game and you just won a prize for being incredibly smart. It sounds a little silly, but it is true. I get a little jolt every time I see a $2 book sale or a $3 survey check in the mail. Plus, as I say, that money adds up. Pretty soon all those snowflakes add up to a snowball. It has been working for me, next month all of my consumer debt will be gone!

Now I just have to tackle those mortgages!

Photo by: ailatan


Miss M said...

Hey $60 every month adds up after a while, it has to help. What types of books sell? I mainly have old textbooks collecting dust since college. They are now out of date (since publishers now create new editions every other year). I don't have many popular novels to unload.

Dawn said...

I have the best luck with non-popular fiction and non-fiction. Very popular fiction tend to flood the market - Patricia Highwall, Tom Clancy, that kind of thing. There are too many copies out (and people don't reread them) so you can't make any money off them online. Better off selling those in a garage sale. However, unusual books do much better because there are fewer copies, so the prices can be higher and there will be less competition.

You might consider listing those old textbooks. You are right, they might not sell (but unlike eBay, you don't have to pay Amazon anything until they sell) however, there might be college professors or others who are looking for those books. It couldn't hurt!

Kristy @ Master Your Card said...

Personally, I haven't had much luck with selling my books online. I do better taking any extras I end up with to Half-Priced Books here in town. I don't make much, but it's better then nothing. I usually go through my book collection once or twice a year and weed out anything I'm not going to read. I usually have quite a lot as I figure if I haven't read it in a year, it's not really worth my time. Plus, there's always the library if I REALLY decide I want to read them. But, I think it could also be the types I'm selling, too. I read fiction, not necessarily popular fiction, but still. I've also noticed the trend that people buy non-fiction books online. Still, I think that's awesome that people donate books to you. I would have never thought of that. Kudos to you and your awesome friends!

Frugalchick said...

I've had this same sort of experience. If I don't list anything for awhile, my selling almost always comes to a halt. But when I list a bunch of items, I start selling again--old as well as new. I wonder if it wouldn't be better to list a couple things a week rather than the whole shebang in one afternoon.

Dawn said...

Kristy - I had an aunt with a bunch of antique books call me and ask me if I wanted to sell her books online for her. I told her that type of book is far to hard for an amateur to price so I sent her to a vintage book seller. She was very pleased with the offers she got, so you are right - sometimes reselling them to bookstores are the way to go!

Frugalchick - That is actually what I try to do - list a few each week. It is easier on me and it does seem to boost sales.