It takes most successful booksellers several years of learning the ropes, making mistakes (as a buyer and a seller) and hauling off way too many boxes/carloads of books until they realize Rule #1 in bookselling:
Quality, Not Quantity
I can attest to this rule myself, as the first collection I purchased was a garage full of pristine Harlequin mass market paperbacks. I still have trouble admitting this rookie mistake in public. I listed several boxes on Half.com, realized I was spending an entire afternoon putting them up for $2 apiece, and immediately came to the realization that my time was worth something, and at this rate, I was selling myself short.
Each and every year, my average selling price has increased (and so has my minimum listing price), to where it is now, an average selling price of around $20, which I hope to increase to $30 by this time next year, and eventually reach some sort of bookselling nirvana with an A.S.P. of $100 or more.
Don't get me wrong, I do have other outlets for my less valuable books acquired along the way (like when I purchase an entire collection, should the seller prefers to do it that way), but these outlets are much less time consuming than doing research, cleaning the book, listing the book and filling the order for it. I promise more secrets on these outlets in future posts.
But I digress...
Although bookselling is not an easy way to riches (like my title might suggest- used for its' inherent attention getting value), there are a handful of books that, once identified, memorized and added to your scouting journal, can make you a nice chunk of change every time you find them.
I have debated with letting this cat out of the bag for some time, but like Craig, I am a firm believer in sharing knowledge that will benefit others. Chances are, he probably shared this in a 50/50 or QMR years ago anyways! If you happen to run into me into a library sale and grab this beauty before I do, just make sure to look at me with a sly grin, and then do the polite thing and buy me a cup of coffee after the sale, or share your own sure sale with me:)
So, without further ado, the book I come across at least once a month (sometimes once a week in a good month), that sells as quick as I can list it in the $40-75 range, no matter what the edition or date of publication. The condition is almost always Very Good+/None. I find it at estate sales, antique malls, library sales, garage sales, thrift shops and anywhere else books are sold. Look familiar?
Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry
So there you have it. Memorize the decorative gilded illustration on the maroon binding. When you find your first copy, memorize the look of the spine. I usually list my copy on the Amazon page above, as it is the #2 Featured Listing, and make sure to state the publication date clearly, obviously noting any flaws in the condition. The book was issued without a dustjacket, and is usually found in Very Good to Excellent Condition, with some fading to the color of the spine/boards being the only defect I consistently notice.
A quick thank you to all of my friends and fellow booksellers who have joined the BookThink forum on Facebook!
Make sure to follow my blog here at http://www.kristianstrom.com/ if you would like to receive timely updates and blog articles with valuable information for online booksellers.