Anticipating Demand, What Books Will Sell Tomorrow?

It’s a little known fact that you don’t always have to be Nostradamus to be able to anticipate demand when selling used books. There are several recurring scenarios that offer the savvy dealer a chance to buy low and sell high… and all it takes is a little extra attention to what is going on in the world!

Movie Adaptations
You’ve probably noticed that a lot of movies are based on popular novels. When these movies are released, there is always a surge of interest in the original book at the same time. Even extremely popular books, like the Twilight series, see a major bump in sales when the film adaptations hit the theaters.

Playing to this demand means buying books low when the film production is announced, and then selling high at the peak of interest in the weeks surrounding the film’s release. There’s usually several months or even a year of time between the two, so patience is a virtue.

Keeping up with upcoming releases is pretty easy. The two major entertainment trade publications are Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, and a quick scan of their movie news sections will reveal announcements about upcoming productions. The Internet Movie Database also has production reports, individual movie listings with release dates, and seasonal guides.

Big Events
Popular events with worldwide appeal generate a lot of interest in the book world. A very timely example is the upcoming soccer World Cup competition. Right now, related books – particularly ones about famous soccer stars like Pele, Diego Maradona, David Beckham, and Ronaldo – are all selling much better than usual. Books about the host nation, South Africa, are also seeing a surge in interest, particularly travel guide books.

Big events often occur on a fixed schedule, with the venue announced years ahead of time, so keeping track of them is simple. These books often see a gentler rise in interest, but buying a year ahead of time and then selling six to nine months later usually produces profitable results.

Famous People
When The Audacity of Hope first came out, Barack Obama was a relatively unknown senator, and sales were modest. Over the next two years, when he went from underdog Democratic nominee to President of the United States of America, interest in the book exploded. There was a rather large window of opportunity in 2007 when used copies of the book were still cheap, but it was obvious that Mr. Obama was going to be the focus of a lot of interest in the months ahead.

Predicting the performance of these kinds of books can be more difficult, since it requires correctly predicting the upward trajectory of the author, but the reward is greater. Those autographed copies of Audacity from the first sparsely-attended book signings are being sold for thousands of dollars today!

Adam Bertram

Adam Bertram is an online bookseller that went from sales of a few bucks a month to a current average of $6K/month. Interested in selling books online? Please visit my blog at, which includes helpful articles, proven online bookselling techniques, and daily updates with new tips and tricks of the trade.

1 thought on “Anticipating Demand, What Books Will Sell Tomorrow?”

  1. I hope this doesn’t come across as crass or unfeeling, but books about recently deceased famous people are also good sellers

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