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MediaScouter's Pocket Profit for Android

by Mary Kerosky

#156 16 May 2011

Recently I was offered an opportunity to test drive Pocket Profit, an Android scouting application developed by MediaScouter, a popular book scouting service. To note - my Android phone is a Motorola Droid X. I bought it late last year, and it was a nice upgrade with a larger screen and faster processor than my previous Droid phone. For my own scouting I have been mainly using the Android Amazon application, along with a few other barcode scanner applications. The Amazon application is the fastest I've tried and generates the most helpful information for selling books. It pulls up the individual sellers and their descriptions (or lack there of) and gives me insight on whether or not I can take advantage of writing a better description (as pointed out by our esteemed editor in a recent issue of BookThink) compared to the other sellers, and therefore pull in a higher profit. I often sell books on average about $3 more and many times even higher with an exceptional description.

Where the Amazon application is lacking, Pocket Profit fills in its weaknesses. One of the main weaknesses of the Amazon application is that it does not show the sales ranking and also cannot alert a book scout when their price criteria has been met. The Amazon application is really designed for buyers, not sellers.

Pocket Profit has many cool features and options! The fastest way to look up book information is to use either the simulated laser scanner on barcodes or to type in the ISBN number in the search box at the main screen. At the bottom of the main screen, there are six icons representing each screen option. These include a Detail Screen, Summary Screen, Watch List Screen, Title Search Screen the Info Screen. Much like searching with other PDA and basic cell phone scouting applications, Pocket Profit shows the number of books listed on Amazon, along with the condition and the prices of the first five used copies. Abbreviations used for condition are ln, vg, g, and a - all self-explanatory.

One option allows you to set a "beep" to alert you that a bar code has been recognized, and when a book is scanned, a voice speaks the lowest price the book is listed for. The beep/voice feature can be silenced if you prefer to be stealthier while scouting. Other options include a profits menu that allows you to set a purchase price, and as you scan books it will show the profits you can make, calculated as low price less 15% commission less cost. Also, there are options to warn you if you have already scanned an item, and you can get collectible prices on Live Lookup as well, though this option will run faster if you use Wi-Fi.

Another great feature is the exclamation mark at the bottom right of the screen - the Info Screen icon. When pressed it shows the author, publisher, date, format, number of pages and weight of the book scanned. And next to the exclamation mark is a magnifying glass which allows you to type titles of books. This search will return several similar titles, and when you press the matching title a voice will speak the lowest price listed on Amazon. You can also use the Info Screen feature with the title search to make sure you have matched up the information with the book that's in your hand. Definitely a great tool for book scouts who might otherwise avoid books with barcodes and ISBNs!

Pocket Profit can also be used to read barcodes for CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes, video games, software and other products. You can use either simple or advanced criteria based on Amazon rank and price. You will also find the Watch List screen handy. It allows you to add and remove items from a watch list or output links for easy uploading to Amazon. You can save the links to an SD card to sell items on Amazon. These automatically save in the Pocket Profit folder on your SD card by default.

After using Pocket Profit for several weeks, I do have few complaints with the program. One issue involves the red "laser" line focusing on the barcode. It has a tendency to look blurry on the Android screen while the camera is focusing on it. If the beep alert is off, there is a long pause, and I wonder if the scan was completed. When I use the Amazon Android application, however, I have not experienced any camera blur. Recently, I've also been trying out the FBAScout application and it has the same camera blur issue as Pocket Profit. Maybe the differences between these applications and the camera blur have something to do with how the software was written?

Right before I turned in my old Android phone late last year, I briefly tested the Pocket Profit application and found that it crashed a few times while scanning. I would be willing to bet that this might have been due to a slower processor on the old Android phone. The Droid X phone has never crashed after multiple uses of Pocket Profit. It may not hurt to upgrade to an Android phone with a faster processor if you decide to use Pocket Profit during your book scouting.

All in all, Pocket Profit is full of many useful features and options. I found it very user friendly with easy to read instructions and icons that make sense. The cost is reasonable as well - $4.99 a month, $13.99 for three months, or $54.99 for a full year. With gas prices sky rocketing these days we can all use budget friendly book scouting programs.

Now, if you have no desire to own an Apple iPhone with it's bazillion available apps, or if you have poor AT&T coverage, then using an Android phone is the way to go! And in my opinion the Pocket Profit application is one of the smartest and best profit making programs you can use in the book scouting field.

Good luck and happy scouting!

EDITOR'S NOTE: MediaScouter's Manager, Chris Madison, informs us that using the Opticon OPN2002 scanner with this app will resolve the blurred laser line issue Mary reported on. See the MediaScouter website for purchase information.

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