A Review of Book Scouting Services: Media Scouter

It’s that time again to release another informative review of a popular book scouting service.  This week is it Media Scouter!  If you’ve missed any of the other review posts on book scouting services please check the 3 posts previous to this one and you will find them.

A book scouting service is a piece of software that allows you to look up prices for books at a library sale, yard sales, used bookstores or just about wherever  you are.  The only thing you need to get these prices is a personal digital assistant (PDA) or a cell phone running the Windows Mobile operating system.  If you don’t want to manually key in each ISBN you should also bring with you a barcode scanner.  Each scouting service provides this similar functionality but it’s important to pay attention to which one may fit your need the best.  If you’d like more information about getting started with book scouting or getting some additional reviews please take a look at my eBook Used Books: Big Business.  Book scouting is an entire chapter in the newly revised edition.

For this post, I’m going to concentrate on Media Scouter.  Media Scouter was the first book scouting service that I used.  I ran it on a Windows Mobile Treo at the time with a Flic scanner.  It was one of the only options I knew of at the time.  On a side note, do not buy the Flic scanner.  It works but it’s slow and very fragile.  Even though it’s a lot more expensive, if you’re planning on selling books online for a business go with the Socket 7P.  It’s got a lot more reliable scanner, it’s faster and it’s much more durable.

Two features that stood out for me were:

1. Database updated daily.  When a book scouting service updates their data what they really mean is when they go out to Amazon and pull all of the pricing information for the books.  Each service is different in the amount of time they update their information.  For the low sales rank, highly competitive books what this means is that the pricing information you’re using out in the field could be way off in just a few days.  Updating their database every day is very beneficial.

2. Search by title.  I get a lot of books that are pre 1970 that have no ISBN.  These books are typically passed up at sales because the other book scout may not have a service that will look them up or are simply too lazy to stop and take the time to manually look up a book.  Having this capability would prove very beneficial if you’re willing to work a little bit harder.  The only drawback to this is that the database to download is much larger and would take longer to download.

The pricing for Media Scouter is a little expensive at $40/month.  The only one that ‘s more expensive is Neatoscan at $50/month.  Again, if you’re just starting out give Asellertool or Scoutpal a try before you drop this much money a month on a book scouting service.

Other than what I mentioned, I don’t see a big difference between Media Scouter and all of the other services at this time.  I haven’t used this service in almost 2 years so I’m betting that it’s been improved on by then.  If you’re a current Media Scouter customer or have some recent experience with it please let us know in the comments section.

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  • robertpeter

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  • Lauren

    If a beginner was going to invest in book scouting hardware, do you think a wireless scanner or a plug in is better? Would you buy refurbished hardware or only new? Also, I did some of my own research and Scoutpal's service only provides 1 lowest used price and 1 lowest new price on Amazon per ISBN whereas some of the others offer 5 used/new prices. Do you think Scoutpal's service provides enough info?
    Thanks for all of your help. This blog is great!

  • Angie Beal

    What makes a person choose to buy that $10 book u r selling, compared to the person selling it for $3 or $4. How can I compete with the people that r established on Amazon? I dont want to go out and buy up a bunch of used books and get stuck with them because people are buying elswhere from other people.

  • adbertram

    For a beginner that's looking at price a plugin is the way to go. I've
    bought refurbished previously so I see no problem with that. Just make
    sure there is a 30 day warranty. Scoutpal's online service shows 3
    lowest prices but I don't remember about the PDA version.

  • Lauren

    Thanks for getting back to me. Rather than look at price on a plug in, would it be better (or as good) to use wireless with an earpiece where you can hear audio feedback? I heard that Socket is not even making plug in scanners anymore (only wireless) so I hate to invest in something that is going to be archaic shortly. Also, according to Scoutpal, their downloadable Amazon database only shows the one lowest used price and one lowest new price. I was concerned that that may not be enough information. What if the lowest price is a penny and the third lowest price is $3.00 and the fifth lowest price is $12.00? Other services like Asellerstool and Mediascouter show 5 lowest new and used prices. What are your thoughts? I’d like to make an investment in one of the services, but want to make sure I am getting sufficient information. Also, if I do decide to use audio feedback, does it matter if they show 1 or 5 lowest prices? b/c I wouldn’t actually be looking at the prices I would be listening for the audio. Thanks again for your help!

  • momricci2

    i just bought the socket mobile ring scanner 9P series and a blackberry curve 8310 , i used to use an ipaq pda with the 5P scan card. i am a bit disappointed b/c it is much slower to get a value live than it was going thru scoutpal, even if i had to upload once a week all the new data from amazon.com. also, i cannnot figure out how to be able to scan a second book without having to go up and delete the isbn number just scanned, it doesnt automaticallly do it. i wanted to be able to be hands free, use a bluetooth earpiece and set it at a certain value, say 10.00 so that it woud only beep if the value was 10 dollars or more. socket knows nothing about how to do that, i dont know if its a separate source that allows one to do that, at this point it is slower than my pda and i am disappointed, help!!!

  • adbertram

    I have no experience using the Blackberry but I believe there is an option
    for the scanner to input a carriage return when it puts in the barcode. You
    may get the manual because they sometimes have barcodes that you can scan
    that configures the scanner. The beeping has nothing to do with Socket.
    That is a feature of Scoutpal. I believe that has to be a formula you use
    for Scoutpal Live and am not sure if it's available in the offline version.

  • sean

    I don't and never will use a scanner. For antiquarian books even those with a barcode good old fashioned experience seems to work for me. I've no problem with those using scanners I just implore all of you who do to be courteous when scanning in a large book sale environment. Please don't: hoard while you scan, cover the books your looking at with a sheet in order to slowly scan or the worst, just throw a book aside if your little box says it's worth nothing according to some disembodied computer. We can all get along, those with portable scanners and those with scanners in our heads. To new booksellers remember, scanners miss more than you know, beware of bargains that slip away!

  • Eden E

    Is there any book scouting software out there that is Mac compatable?

  • adbertram

    Not that I'm aware of.

  • adbertram

    Not that I'm aware of.