Hi, what scanning tools work best when shopping at yard sales for books?



I’ve decided to jump into selling books at Amazon with both feet (and hands). I’m trying to get my business set up. I’ve read a good bit, books and online, about the business. However, what I’m not sure of is how to QUICKLY evaluate books at yard sales.

Based on what I’ve read, I need a barcode scanner and a PDA. A PDA??? Haven’t they gone the way of the dodo birds? Also, are there any wireless scanners that will help with this?

I do have an Android Smartphone (Galaxy SIII) with an unlimited data plan. I suppose I can just use it, but I’ve read this is slower than using a scanner.

Thoughts? Suggestions?


Angel’s Book Haven


I think many people think that they can just “jump in”.

Maybe scanners do help some, but there is no value in lack of knowledge. If you want to sell books - things to remember.

It is not just the book and ISBN. ISBN’s are reused on different books… ISBN’s are listed for paperback and hardcovers(same title). Dates and publishers matter. Pre ISBN’s take time and judgement to figure out.

Scanners are okay, but there is no replacement for knowledge.

Start looking and reading.


Thank you Storybooks for your comments.

I’ve actually quite familiar with the various issues of ISBNs etc.

I’ve been reading, but a lot of the material isn’t the latest/greatest, which is why I’m asking the question here.

Angel’s Book Haven



I want to follow you around yard sales because you are going to miss so many books using a scanner


Looking at the title of this Forum - “Help for New Sellers” and hoping there are people genuinely interested in helping, instead of boosting their message post count.

Obviously Experience is important. But, I can’t manufacture experience overnight. So, I have to learn from doing. And how do I want to learn? One way, but not the only way, is to scan books to discover their potential value and sales rank. A scanner probably isn’t ideal if I plan on pricing every book while I stand in some stranger’s garage…but after scanning all the books I have at home, I’m going to need to practice on other books to get a feel for prices. You may have bottomless pockets and can buy books willy-nilly without any idea of values or sales ranks. I don’t have that luxury.

Edited by: Angel’s Book Haven on Jun 21, 2014 8:48 AM


Scanners create knowledge. They teach you over time what kinds of things tend to have value.

Scanners also let you catch the surprises–the books that you thought at first glance weren’t valuable. Anyone who claims to maintain a database in their head extensive enough for general book buying is full of it.

You will miss many more books without a scanner, and, OF COURSE, you don’t use a scanner exclusively. Who does that?

A barcode scanner is much faster, and pretty much a necessity if you live in a place where multiple book dealers show up at sales simultaneously.


Thank you Lexiphile!

Any barcode scanner recommendations. Are there certain ones that only ProfitBandit recognizes?

Angel’s Book Haven


As opposed to not using a scanner, when they will miss zero books.

Until you’re look Doubled and you’ve learned the current value and demand of millions of books to the point that you never pass up a book without value or buy one based on false information, I find that looking up a book on Amazon on my smartphone works fine for the casual garage sale situation.


download the amazon seller app or profit bandit. I think amazon seller is only for iphone at this time but it’s free. the profit bandit app is something like 12 dollars and htey are talking about a monthly fee. but try them both. Go out and scan some books. Set a price that you won’t go below. For me that’s about 9.00. Also don’t forget to scan anything else you see at the garage sale that new in a package. That dimmer swith can be worth 15.99. To me forget movies too many restrictions. Now as time goes on you will develop some experience and know hey these best sellers are not worth anything because they were best sellers. And that that book on knitting is actually worth about 40.00. Good luck to you and happy scanning. Also if you pick up 4 books on the top of a box and they all scan for good prices just ask them how much for the box. Usually you get a better deal and the box will contain the same kind of books.


Best scanning tools are experienced eyes and brains.


Hmmm…must be a weird glitch. The title of this thread seems to be displaying for a lot of people as “Please brag about how awesome you are.”

I do find it interesting that so many sellers completely disregard existing Amazon information when deciding whether acquire a book for reselling and how to price the book.


I use A Seller Tool, which provides the equipment and the database. I don’t know about Profit Bandit.


I dunno, I’m not awesome nor do I use a scanner (when doing personal buys)…but if I am buying outside my personal collection, I use common sense.

Yes, I probably have missed some gems, but also have gained a lot of gems since I stick to signed books Western history and unusual books that I come across and also try to vary my inventory so it has something for most peeps (I’ve even bought some books I totally disagree with…but hey, it gives ya an idea of what your enemies may be thinking, lol).

I don’t buy paperback best sellers; am careful about children’s books (will buy them if vintage with great illustrations); maintain a list of books that tend to be pricey from setting aside time each week to search out books that are hard to find that have a hefty price tag (you can end up finding at least a minimum of about twenty or more books a week to be on the lookout for by spending minimal time); if buying outside my own library I’m picky about what I pick up, it has to be pretty darn good; if looking at a sale and find an older book tend to buy those with dust jackets…yeah I could go on ad nauseum…so common sense.

At our FOL, we use A Seller Tool and it works (helps us pull out books for our special auction). I know some of my fellow FOL peeps get antsy when people come in with scanners (and have been pretty unfriendly), but, so what…we are there to sell books and make money for our library not horde them.

I have noticed when people having sales (yard, estate, garage, benefit sales) see someone scanning, it tips them off to jack the price up as many people don’t put prices on books at sales (at least our local sales). And, I have seen at FOL’s people with scanners being asked to leave (which I think is just plain stupid, a sale is a sale).

So because we use AST at our FOL, I would say it does the job (and I think it was lex who also gave a thumb’s up on it, too).


I’m lucky, I guess–I’ve encountered next to no ill will at sales regarding my use of a scanner.

To keep people from jacking up prices, always ask when you arrive at a sale what they’re asking for their books, BEFORE you pull out the scanner.


That feeling of false awesomeness seems to afflict the anti-scanner crowd.


Profit Bandit is a good scanner tool. But even with a scanner, it will take time to gain experience using it. Maybe a month or two.


I have downloaded the Amazon app to my iPhone, that’s all I use. I don’t scan everything, just what I think might be worthwhile. I stay to my area of knowledge.


In the regular app you can press the “features & details”, rank listed there. :slight_smile:


I also use the Amazon app on my smart phone… Free and accurate.

At garage sales I do not scan. Books are generally a dollar or less and I trust my judgement enough to buy without looking up. Do I buy stinkers? Sure! But the time I save pays for them. Also as someone else mentioned, you risk tipping off or offending the hosts.

At estate sales or book sales I use my smart phone app. Book prices are usually higher and the proprietors expect folks are going to look up. The app is invaluable for these situations because you can type in title of book and year to get current pricing. Something scanners don’t offer.

Everyone buys differently. Some scan, some don’t. Either way you’ll continue to learn more and more. And the more you learn about book selling the more you realize you don’t know!

Good luck!


The Amazon app doesn’t give the book’s rank, does it?