Book scouting has been the #1 question I get from readers of the blog. Actually, it has been far and away the biggest question that I get. I think it’s because of a combination of a few different things such as which fancy tech gadgetry to get, how to use it once it’s in your hand, the vast combination of scanner/PDAs that you can use and which service to use out of all of them. I may not be able to answer all of these questions in a few blog posts but I can do my best to get you started on some review of all the book scouting services that I know of.
For full and fair disclosure I have not used any of my book scouting equipment in well over 6 months but I still stay abreast of changes in the book scouting area. I haven’t been book scouting because, if you’re a regular reader of the blog, you’d know that I don’t typically buy a few books at a time. I started buying books in huge quantities some time ago and simply have not had the need to purchase a few dozen at a time. Sure, I occasionally go out and whip out my iPhone in a pinch and manually punch in the ISBNs of some books but I no means have the ultimate setup of the lightning fast PDA with the bluetooth scanner and use it all the time.
This series of blog posts is dedicated to a quick review of all of the major and some not so major vendors of book scouting services. It is not meant as a primer to book scouting or even how to show you how to do it. It’s a pretty big subject and instead of answering individual questions from everyone I thought it would be a great idea to write up a post that I could reference people to in regards to service recommendations. If you’re wanting an explanation of what book scouting is, how you can get started, etc you can take a look at one of my previous posts titled Make Smarter Buying Decisions with Book Scouting Services.
I also want to say that this is not meant to promote any particular service. As you can see on the left side of your screen in the sidebar that there are a few vendors advertising on the site, but I am no means going to pull punches even if they’re paying me to advertise. I am and always will be completely honest in my writing. It bothers me to no end when people wanting to make a quick buck will tout a product or service that they’ve never used before and make false claims. Rest assured, I will feed you no bull shit. Finally, I also wanted to mention to get all the legal stuff out of that way that any opinion expressed on this blog are mine and do not represent any of the services mentioned.
So, with that being said, let’s get started with the first review which is Scoutpal!
The first book scouting service in our series of posts on book scouting is Scoutpal. Scoutpal is a company that is an offshoot of a larger company called ScannerPal. It was started in 2002 which makes it one of the oldest services out there. Scoutpal has many different features available that may be of interest to online booksellers. The first is your typical offline service that downloads a database to your computer with all of the pricing information. You then install an application onto your PDA or cell phone and sync that database to your device. This lets you scan books with no Internet connection. This is the typical service that almost all book scouting services provide.
The next feature this service has is an online service. This kind of service is simply a streamlined web page in which you either scan in or type in an ISBN number of a book and it comes up with the going market price on Amazon. This service is very configurable to where you can setup many options to see such as sales rank, lowest used book price on Amazon or even Abebooks prices and Pricegrabber information. This is the one service that you can input LCCN numbers which are in books that are too old to have an ISBN. It’s not always 100% accurate with the LCCN searches but it’s pretty close. I’ve used this service on my computer to scan in thousands of books with my PC USB scanner and it works great.
They also have a unique feature that lets you call over the phone and get prices that way known as their IVR service. It’s pretty pricey at $9.99/hour but it will do in a pinch if you’re out and find yourself a book sale and need to check some prices quickly. I have no experience with this service but it is very unique and no other book scouting service that I know of provides this.
Scoutpal is known for it’s open source approach which means it’s very configurable and open to change. In fact, I’ve asked for some features that were not in the original product that they’ve added with no problem. They have a “format results” screen which I was referencing above that allows you to configure just about anything you’d like. I particularly like the formula that you can make in which I’ve set the screen to say “Toss it” for books with low sales prices or “Amazon FBA” for books that have low sales rank prices for example. Scoutpal’s support is very good also. Whenever I was using it I didn’t have many issues with getting started and when I did they were always very helpful in getting me up and going.
The price of Scoutpal is what sets it apart from the rest. It’s very cheap at $9.95/month. This is one of the primary reasons I started using it. It works but is not quite the product that other services like Neatoscan is but for someone just starting out using selling books online Scoutpal is probably the way to go because it’s A. cheap and B. it works. It has all of the Amazon pricing information you need for that fee and can get you up and going in no time.
I hope that you enjoy this series of blog posts. Whenever I first started typing this out it was going to be one post but once I surpassed 3 full pages of writing I figured I’d better split it up. I’m sometimes too through as you can see from the 55 page to the 92 page increase in the new version of my eBook Used Books: Big Business. Let me know what you think and feel free to comment on these posts to let me know your experiences as well.
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