Get a SNEAK PEAK at some of the BEST Public Domain websites I've uncovered in this FREE Expert Report. Sign up below!

Name E-mail

Book Sale Survival Guide

Spring and Summer are favorite times of the year for me on a number of levels. I prefer a warm breeze over snow, flowers over snow, yard sales over snow…I think you get the picture. This time of the year also brings with it something else I love…book sales! One of my favorite annual sales happens next weekend…I’m excited!

When you consider that there is a minimum of 85 million books in the Public Domain and only 4 million of those are available online, it makes events like a good book sale seem like a magical treasure hunt for content…or maybe it’s just me :-)

The best way to find out what book sales are happening in your area is to use the same website I use: Book Sale Finder ( It’s not the most beautiful website in the world, but they deliver the information you want…where is the next sale? Simply click on your state and check the listings.

Something you may also want to consider, especially if you travel a lot, is to check listings for the area you’re travelling to. You never know what book adventure may await!

When checking the listings on Book Sale Finder, you will find that there are a number of different types of listings with regard to what is being offered at the sales. What you want to pay attention to are the sales that feature 100% donated books that are NOT picked over. I’ll use the listing for the local sale I’m attending as the perfect example for what I mean. Here is the listing:

50,000 books; 100% donated; 65% hardcover; sorted; not ‘picked over'; no buyer restrictions; plus maps, sheet music, A/V; paperback .50; hardcovers up to $15

There are several key points to note here…

  1. The quantity listed (more is better)
  2. 100% donated (provides greater opportunity for “goodies”)
  3. 65% hardcover (most older books in the Public Domain are hardcover)
  4. Sorted (makes it MUCH easier to find what you are searching for quickly)
  5. Not picked over (increases your chances for finding books of value, content-wise)
  6. No buyer restrictions (means you can buy as much as you want…a good thing)
  7. Other offerings and prices (always good to know).

Here are a few more “Book Sale Survival Guide” tips:

Take a bag, cart or box. You will want something to put your books in…trust me, if you start finding a lot of books, this will make your life easier.

Grab now, sort later. The name of the game is to grab ANY book that looks like it could have potential for you. Delaying could result in you NOT ending up with the book. You can always sort later before you pay.

Check Copyrights on the spot. If you think you’ve found a gem, you can check its copyright right on the spot by using your iPhone or Blackberry. Log into the Standford University site (for books 1923 – 1950) or the site (for books 1950 – 1964) and conduct a search. It could save you some time and money!

Book Dealers. They’ll be there, so be aware. They are easy to spot. You’ll usually see the scanning books with a barcode reader to check the “sell” value of books. What’s funny about that is that they’re hoping to find cheap books that they can, in turn, sell for a profit. Spend $1.00 and sell for $20.00. Of course, our approach is MUCH different. Spend $1.00 and make $1,000’s be creating new products. But again, be aware that some of the books you are after, they are too…but not all!

Stay focused! Whenever you are faced with sorting through 50,000 books, it’s really easy to become distracted. Go to the sale with specific niche topics in mind and search for those books first. After you’ve explored those topics THEN look around for other possibilities. This is super important! Lots of people in a room with lots of books can challenge the best book junkies, so go with a plan. Consider even writing a list of specific authors or titles so you don’t forget to check for them in the flurry of excitement.

Book Sales are a LOT of fun, but don’t plan to attend thinking only a few people will be there. If it’s a big sale, plan to go early…there WILL be a line! Just remember to have fun…enjoy yourself…and look forward to finding those “hidden gems!”

4 Responses to “Book Sale Survival Guide”

  • Great points, Tony.

    Another giveaway is the appearance and apparel of the dealers. Many, although not all, will be late-middle-age guys wearing khakis and plaid, often long sleeve, shirts.

    Some of these book scouts and dealers are beginning to learn the value of public domain.

    They are often very good at what they do.

    Maybe you should bold or italicize this excerpt:

    “Lots of people in a room with lots of books can challenge the best book junkies, so go with a plan. Consider even writing a list of specific authors or titles so you don’t forget to check for them in the flurry of excitement.”

    Thanks for the great post…

  • Cool post Tony,
    The public domain, I admit, is somewhat intimidating. But I can sure see the power in it.
    I watch a video showing how to do niche research. I would say this would be worth doing prior to going too. This can be done by going to Amazon and checking out the top sellers. Figure out what people are after, at this time, and use that as your niche to research. The video I saw was related to developing a product by modeling existing ‘top sellers’. So essentially taking the table of contents as a guide and developing a simular product, being cautious of copywrite infringement. With a book that is within the public domain, you don’t even seem to need to worry about rewriting, just turn it into digital and good to go.

    Thanks Tony,

    Jeromy (AKA Hillbilly)

  • Georjina:

    Great tip Tony.
    Will this also work for ‘out of print’ books, music, etc?

    I purchased a book some years ago in one of my niches and it’s no longer in print by the publisher and the author doesn’t want the headache of self publishing it.

  • Joi:

    I love the advice about taking a box or carry all. I remember a great book sale in Gulf Breeze Florida once where all three of my daughters and I were ALL loaded down with F.D. Van Amburgh’s, Greenville Kleiser’s, etc.

    We still had to make two trips to the car!

    I guess it goes without saying that I also agree with the “grab now, sort later” philosophy. You never want to let one get away.

    Great advice!

    Off topic: I’m very, very sorry about the loss of your gorgeous dog. You were both lucky to have had one another. Losing a pet rips your heart out, but the joy they bring makes it, somehow, worthwhile.

Leave a Reply