ScoutPal Update

by Craig Stark

#28, 4 October 2004

When I test drove ScoutPal last month, I kept a record of the purchases I made exclusively while using it at thrift shops. I've just now crunched the numbers. It's difficult to totally isolate the impact of ScoutPal because some of these purchases I may or may not have made anyway. When you're buying books without a net, more things factor into the decision making process. A book might look promising, for example, but if you've recently been disappointed by some bad buys, you might be reluctant to take a chance on anything but a sure thing. Also, confidence does matter. When you have it, you're not only more inclined to take chances, but also, I'm a firm believer that you "see" more clearly - that is, have an enhanced ability to spot winners.

Other intangibles may also come into play, but I tried to isolate things as best I could, to list only the books I probably wouldn't have walked out the store with without ScoutPal. Here are the results:

  • # of shops visited: 14

  • # of ScoutPal-aided books purchased: 29

  • average price per book: $1.53

  • average value of books purchased: $32.16

  • highest value book: $85

  • lowest value book: $$10.85

A few more observations. First, my non-ScoutPal-aided buys during this period totaled only 8 - in other words, I would've been hard put to justify the time I spent, not to mention gas money, visiting 14 stores for so few finds. Second, about half of the thrift shops I visited were ones I'd all but stopped going to because it'd been so long since I'd found anything worthwhile at them. These shops, with one or two exceptions, yielded some very good buys. Third, I caught myself looking up some books that I wouldn't have given a second glance at before I had ScoutPal. Some of these were winners, and the overall effect was to expand my inventory potential, not to mention my mental library of flashpoints. Finally, I paid for a year's worth of ScoutPal service on my very first stop at a store I hadn't been to in well over a year. Ironically, there was another bookseller there with a cell phone. He asked me how the "fishing" was going. He said he'd had a good morning on the other side of town but wasn't having much luck on this side. Some of the best things I found were on shelves he'd already gone over!

So, I netted almost $900 in my first month, and keep in mind that my focus is typically on estate sales and other (non-thrift-shop) sources for inventory. A nice supplement for what perhaps totaled a half day's work. I'm mindful of trying not to oversell this, but I wanted to share my experiences with you as objectively as possible in what is a relatively highly scouted metropolitan area.

If you're interested in giving this a shot, here's the link. And a blurb from Dave Anderson: "Use ScoutPal with any web-enabled cell phone or wireless PDA and find out the Amazon Marketplace value of books, CD's, DVD's, Video Tapes, or any other Amazon Marketplace Merchandise, while you are out bookscouting. How many times have you come back from bookscouting with essentially worthless books? How many times have you passed over a book, only to find out later, when you look it up again on Amazon, that it was valuable and in high demand? Bookscouting with ScoutPal is like hunting with Radar."

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