Selling used books online

I love books so when I stumbled across a blog post about creating your own online used bookstore, I read it and then googled some more and then read some more.  Supposedly there are people that scout for books at estate sales, thrift stores and used bookstores and then sell those books online.  Sounds kind of fun.  Spend all day looking at books, find treasures and sell them.

What I can’t figure out is how they make much money.  Let’s assume you want to make $50K/yr.  You’d have to make $2K/wk which
means you’d have to sell 20 books a week at $100 profit (how many of those can
there be??) or 200 books at $10 profit (still not a lot) or 400 books
at $5 profit (most likely.)  That means you’d have to find 400 books/week!! 

How many estate sales and garage sales would you have to go to to find 400 books worth $5 used?  Even if you found two $100 books and 100 $10 books, you’d still have to find another 160 books that were being undersold by $5.  That’s a lot of books.

It sounds like a better hobby than a career.


So I thought about this some more and realized that I was wrong because I forgot about inventory.  From what I’ve read, you can assume 30% of the books you list sell in the first month and that each month you sell 10% of your inventory.  That makes $50K/year much more realistic.  Here’s the logic:

  • To make $50K/year, you have to make $1K/week.
  • Assume 4 weeks/month for simplicity reasons.
  • If you find $4K/month (in profits, regardless of what the books sell for), you’ll sell $1200/month of that.
  • You’ll put the remaining $2800 into your inventory.
  • Assuming your inventory has $28K in profit, and you sell 10% a month, you’ll sell $2800/month of that.  And the stuff you found this month that didn’t sell will replenish that.
  • So you:
    • found $4000
    • sold $4000 ($1200 of what you found plus $2800 from your inventory)
    • maintain an inventory of $28000

So all is good.  And finding $1000/week in profits sounds hard but much more doable than my original assumptions.  Assuming you work five days a week, you can find 20 books a day for a dollar that will sell for $11 or you can find 2 for a dollar that will sell for $101.  Not easy but perhaps possible.


If you were Teddy’s friend, you knew it each and every day

Frank’s asked a couple of times when I’m going to write an "Ode to Teddy."  I haven’t been able to write it because I miss her so much.  And I’m not sure I could do her justice.

But if there’s one thing about Teddy that should not be forgotten, it’s her greetings.  She said hello with her whole body.  She barked at everybody that came to the door.  But once she identified you as a friend – and that might happen when your car pulled up or it might happen once you stepped into the house – she would go into full greeting mode.  She’d squeal with delight, spin in circles, dive between your legs, roll over onto her back and wiggle, and then jump up to give you kisses.  It didn’t matter whether you’d been gone for five minutes or five months – you got the same elaborate greeting.   If we happened to be waiting for someone somewhere, she would watch for them.  (She knew most of our friends by name and I could tell her they were coming.)  When she spotted them, she’d immediately start a high pitch squeal/whine and start crouching down on her front legs and spinning.  If I let her off leash, she’d beeline to our friends in an all out sprint, miss them by an inch, turn around and do the Teddy greet – see above. 

One of my friends nicknamed her Twirly Girl and I thought that name was particularly accurate.

If you were Teddy’s friend, you knew it each and every day.  Friends of Teddy, feel free to describe it in your own words!

Should the drinking age be lowered?

I have to agree with McCardell, the president of Middlebury College:

He notes that
18-year-olds have a right to marry, adopt children, serve as legal
guardians for minors, purchase firearms from authorized dealers, and
are trusted with the vote and military responsibilities. So, he says,
it is not unreasonable to think that they can, with proper preparation,
be trusted to drink.

Our laws restricting things dependent on age are just a little out of sync. 

Note that the drinking age is 21 in all 50 states because of the federal law that says the states lose 10% of the highway money if their drinking age is lower than 21.  That age is not based on any research that we suddenly understand how to drink responsibly at the age of 21.  I think there’s ample evidence that many people have a problem drinking responsibly after the age of 21, so maybe we should spend more of our highway money on things like better public transportation that might prevent drunk driving instead of just trying to delay it until people are 21.

What’s your best excuse?

I have a standing weekly appointment with someone and 80% of the time she calls to reschedule.  I thought I’d share some of the excuses.  I believe they are all real – I just can’t believe they all happen to one person!

  • Looking for son’s dog that was stolen.  (They found the dog.)
  • Granddaughter slipped on the ice and broke her nose and has to be taken to the emergency room.
  • Car got stuck in the snow three times on the way.  (We had lots of snow this year in Colorado!)
  • Babysitter didn’t show up.
  • Has a court date.
  • Daughter had surgery yesterday and is throwing up violently today and needs to be taken back to the doctor.
  • Has meetings with teachers.
  • Has jury duty.
  • … and then the normal "I’m sick."

What’s the best excuse you’ve heard or used?

Photo "The Dog Ate My Homework" by mygothlaundry.

Drugs or no drugs when giving birth? And why all medical sensors should be wireless!

Here’s my post on how people do not agree on what "natural childbirth" is or should be and how all my problems could have been solved with two little wireless sensors.

I was firmly against drugs during labor unless I changed my mind during labor.  (How’s that for a decision! But having never been in labor, I didn’t figure I could really decide till I was there.)  You would not believe the number of people that acted like I was crazy and tried to talk me into drugs!  I’m not a big fan of pain and I wasn’t going drugless to be natural or tough or to prove a point.  If you could give me drugs during labor that would take away the pain and still let me walk around, I probably would have opted for them in the beginning.  I believe that vaginal births work better if women can get up, walk around, use the birthing ball, or just find the sitting or standing position that works best for them.   When I’m in pain, I don’t lie flat on my bed – when my stomach hurts I usually hold it and curl around it.  Look at any kid with an injury – they don’t lie flat on their backs – they curl around the pain.

I knew the minute I accepted drugs I would be entering into a spiral that would end with me trapped in bed.  And I was right.  Once you get any drugs, you have an IV going into you and they want to keep you attached to the machine that monitors you and the baby.  So at that point you have two machines/stands that have to go everywhere with you plus at least 3 cables and tubes coming out of you.

Here’s how it happened for me:

  • My water broke,
  • Caleb was in distress,
  • They made me lie in bed while they figured out what was distressing him,
  • I wasn’t allowed to move – not even sit up, until they figured it out,
  • They attached a sensor to the top of Caleb’s head with a wire that came out and attached to a machine next to me,
  • They put a balloon like thing in the uterus next to Caleb to time the contractions more accurately, with a wire that came out and attached to a machine next to me,
  • Caleb had the cord wrapped around his neck and sometimes he wasn’t getting enough oxygen,
  • They inserted a catheter into me with a tube that came out,
  • At which point I gave up on any notions of "natural" and I asked for an epidural,
  • The epidural doctor gave me a hard time about changing my mind from no drugs to an epidural,
  • The epidural meant I had yet more tubes attached to more machines,
  • I threw up because pain killers make me sick, so I got some anti-nausea medicine which I think meant another tube but I’m not sure,
  • I fell asleep because the anti-nausea medicine makes you drowsy. 

So I had a vaginal birth.  Was it natural?  Not really.  Would I have had it any other way, i.e. less drugs or cables?  Not with the cord wrapped around Caleb’s neck!

BUT, I think it would have all been different if the sensor they attached to Caleb’s head and the sensor that timed contractions had been wireless.  Then I wouldn’t have been attached to any machines, and assuming Caleb reacted well, I could have still moved.  Why don’t they make wireless sensors when we have wireless phones, wireless computers, wireless copiers, wireless garage door openers?  I don’t know.  My theory is that the people designing the sensors never bothered to interview the women in labor, the users, about them.  The nurse tried to tell me they didn’t have wireless sensors because the heart is an electro-magnetic organ and that would some how interfere with the measurements.  I pointed out that even my heart rate monitor is wireless!

So I wasn’t trying to be "natural,"  I was trying to have the easiest, quickest and healthiest birth.  I think taking drugs and lying on your back makes it harder and longer.  I think a C-section makes the recovery a lot harder.  I think staying at home makes it more dangerous.  (We wouldn’t have known Caleb was having difficulties.) 

And I think medical device manufactures could help everybody by developing devices that take advantage of technology and deliver the best experience for their users.

Is life too easy in the Peace Corps?

My cousin Kelsi is in the Peace Corps and people have been giving her a hard time that she’s got it easy.  She’s really been enjoying the Domican Republic and writing some great stories about the country and the people there.  Having been in third world countries and a lot of Carribean countries, I don’t think it she has it easy.  I’m really glad she’s enjoying the good parts.  In her email today she shared one of the negative sides for the first time:

The first thing I saw when I got to my house in La Cienega was the hugest rat I
had ever seen being chased by the family dog.  I about started freaking out on
the spot, but since it was the family´s first impression of me, I held it
together as much as I could.  They reassure me that there are no rats in the
house, but I have the dog and cat sleep in my room just in case.

It reminded me of a hotel in Honduras where I was sitting at the pool and two rats tried to climb up on my chair.  I pulled up my feet and let my friend continue to sleep in the other lounger.  What else could you do?  I certainly wasn’t going to go anywhere while they were there!  I wish I’d had a dog!

Five Easy Ways to (Maybe) Discover What You Are Meant to Do With Your Life

Pamela from Escape from Cubicle Nation has these five questions she recommends answering to find out what you should do with your life.  I answered them for fun and then I debated posting them here as they could be a bit personal but I thought it would be fun to see if you guys can figure out what I’m passionate about by reading them.  Your ideas are welcome!

What is your favorite movie?  Pelican Brief – she solves a mystery, writes a brief, it gets noticed by important people, she’s in New Orleans – my second favorite city, trying to hide – I like the challenge of how you would hide, trying to right a wrong.   My next favorite would be an action movie – any of the Tom Clancy movies with Harrison Ford, or that one where Harrison Ford proves he’s innocent of murdering his wife because a one man arm did it or the Saint or that one where they track nuclear weapons to New York City.  Action all the way.  With a challenging mystery that the main character solves.

What are your favorite channels on television?  Channels?  Frank tapes all the shows with the DVR.  All I know are the names of my favorite shows – not even what day they come on!  ER and Gray’s Anatomy would be my favorites although they tend to get a bit soap opera-ish.  I also enjoy watching CSI with Frank.  If there’s anything else on … well, I’ll never know if I like it unless Frank tapes it and says I should watch it.

What kind of art museums are you attracted to?  Art.  Hmm.  I liked seeing all the dinosaurs at the Smithsonian.  Does that count as art?  If I had to pick an art form, it would be photography.  There’s a photographer here in Colorado who has studios at the airport and in Broomfield and he takes amazing pictures of wildlife.  But I like pictures of people best.  They don’t have to be people I know but those are the best ones.

What kind of music do you love? Country music.  Time Marches On and Any Man of Mine and the one about the girl (as the boy grows up) are probably my favorites.

What kind of outdoor environment makes you the most happy?  Summer.  Sitting outside at a restaurant in downtown Fort Collins.  Preferably with friends but alone is still fun as long as there’s lots of people around and lots going on.  Sitting on the Ramblas in Barcelona rates pretty high too.  As does the River Walk in New Orleans.  And parts of New York City and San Francisco.  Busy, hot cities in the summer.

So what do you think?  Do you know what I should do now?

Do you think marathon runners are crazy?

I always thought people that ran marathons were crazy but it turns out that humans are built to run long distances – that’s how we used to hunt.  Humans hot, sweaty, natural-born runners explains how our ability to run long distances gave us a competitive advantage.  We can run longer (although slower) than all other animals.  One of things that allows us to run long distances is the fact that we can sweat.  We can lose the excess heat while we are running – all other animals have to stop and pant to cool down.

So I guess I should stop thinking all those marathon runners are crazy – sorry Dana and Dad!

By the way, the article said the other two animals that are distance runners are dogs and horses.  So see, I really wasn’t torturing Teddy all those years!  (I knew I wasn’t but I had friends who thought otherwise.  She loved our daily runs although I’m sure she would have preferred walking.  More time to smell the roses – or to roll in stinky things.)

Photo by Hugo*.