[pause] ka-CHING [pause] ka-CHING [pause] ka-CHING . . . ad nauseum
August 1, 2019 7:57 AM   Subscribe

What app was this woman using?

Recently I was at a thrift store where a woman was scanning books with her phone. Whenever she came across one that apparently was of value, her phone let out a "ka-CHING". I don't recall hearing a sound when the book was not of value, but it's been a while so there might have been and I just don't remember. As the woman stayed in the book area, I have no idea whether or not the app would have read other bar codes besides those on books. The vast majority of books she picked out were hardcover fiction, if that helps. Does anyone have any idea what bar code scanner app this might have been?
posted by ditto75 to Shopping (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Previously on the blue.

Apparently there are aps that let you scan items and see if theyre selling for profits or not online. . . and some people do it as a business.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 8:04 AM on August 1


I overheard another customer at the bookstore telling the salesperson that these people have become a plague at the library sale, to the point where they have taken some kind of countermeasure against them, like banning phone use. So there is definitely some kind of book-oriented app for this.
posted by thelonius at 8:59 AM on August 1 [6 favorites]


Chegg, a textbook seller, has an app for this, and if i remember correctly it makes the ka-ching noise.
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:20 AM on August 1


For clarification: Chegg is marketed as a textbook seller, and that's what I used it for, but I believe they'll buy almost any books.
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:23 AM on August 1


So there is definitely some kind of book-oriented app for this.

There are dozens. It's a business for a lot of people, as the link to the Blue shows, and there are plenty of us who resell for what our grandmothers used to call pin money. I use Barcode Scanner, but a dedicated seller might be using BookScanner because that app allows you to sell directly and immediately to large resale sites. I believe it dings, but I'm not in the US so I don't use it.

I overheard another customer at the bookstore telling the salesperson that these people have become a plague at the library sale, to the point where they have taken some kind of countermeasure against them, like banning phone use.

Libararies are not white towers. I am well-educated, well-read, grew up in a publishing family and have a genuine love of books. I also have a genuine love of money, eating and mortgage payments. I do not subscribe to the belief that books are reserved for the worthy. If the librarians involved here were smarter, they'd scan their own books and sell the most valuable ones the same way individual resellers do before the library sale in order to maximise the revenue for their library system. That is, after all, the point of the library sale.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:23 AM on August 1 [21 favorites]


a plague at the library sale, to the point where they have taken some kind of countermeasure against them, like banning phone use

Back in the early 2000s, before the ubiquitousness of android/IOS apps, you could buy a programmable barcode reader, load a text file of ISBNs and prices and a program that compares barcodes against the text file to beep if a certain condition was met. Our local library sale put the kabosh on those people very quickly too (I believe they were only allowed on the 2nd day of the sale) ; I imagine it's harder now since people could have phones out for non-price-scanning reasons.

Also note that this is a model for people who sell all kinds of retail products online, not just books.
posted by AzraelBrown at 9:26 AM on August 1


DarlingBri, librarians don't usually run the book sale, at least in the US; it's typically Friends of the Library, who are a volunteer organization for the benefit of the library, and whose members are frequently not the most extremely online people. (Another frequent misapprehension: when people donate books to the library, they usually actually go to the FoL book sale, rather than into the library collection itself.)

I feel honor-bound to defend my former profession here. There are many problems with librarianship; a failure to understand the economics around books is not usually one of them. Also: smart.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 9:58 AM on August 1 [18 favorites]


Yeah, they're definitely looking for valuable books, and using a dedicated app for it. As someone who's participated in a lot of charity book sales... I think they do a lot more damage than DarlingBri describes. They take books out of circulation for the actual attendees, which is one of our main draws - the chance to find something rare, or strange, or just at a lower price than otherwise - and generally lower the quality of our stock. Plus, I can only walk into so many wagons before I start getting annoyed.

I think this makes plenty of sense as arbitrage, but I basically dispute the idea that the function of a book sale is to convert books into money in the most efficient way possible.
posted by sagc at 10:33 AM on August 1 [16 favorites]


a dedicated seller might be using BookScanner

That link took me to the BookScouter app - I use that myself and it doesn't make any sound.

Just tried the Chegg app. It does beep when scanning but again, there's no ka-CHING when you find a book with value.

Even though I saw the woman scanning only books, maybe the app she used is for any and all bar codes?
posted by ditto75 at 10:50 AM on August 1


We get these folks at library book sales. I KNOW they're all using the apps, I can't kick them out for it (and why would I, we're getting SOME $$ from them, they're just getting more when they resell) but I wish they'd silence their phones.

ka-CHING [pause] ka-CHING [pause] ka-CHING [pause] ka-CHING [pause] ka-CHING [pause] ka-CHING

It's a library, not a casino.
posted by Gray Duck at 11:32 AM on August 1 [5 favorites]


My profound apologies to the librarians of the world. I really should have said "library associated people."
posted by DarlingBri at 1:03 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]


The eBay app makes a ka-Ching anytime someone places a bid on an item you've posted. Could be she's an eBay reseller.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:30 PM on August 1


If the librarians involved here were smarter, they'd scan their own books and sell the most valuable ones the same way individual resellers do before the library sale in order to maximise the revenue for their library system. That is, after all, the point of the library sale.

It's not that we're not smart. Most public libraries are chronically understaffed and can barely provide the basic services of running a library, let alone running a rare book resale operation...out of where? The storage room/break room? And by what staff...the ones that the library system is going to pay to try and eke out a few pennies over the cost of employing them for the hours they spend scanning books? It's just not feasible. Every library in our system has the Book Sale run by the Friends. Some of them have the time and inclination to scan for valuable books, some don't. Our patrons are able to donate old books (which sets their book-loving minds at ease, knowing that they're going to a good cause and not a landfill...yet), and we get a few bucks from the Friends via the sales for stuff like author talks and programming. I wish the book scanners would stay away but that's just now how the world of "old stuff that could be valuable" works in the age of handheld scanners and the interwebs.
posted by Gray Duck at 3:41 PM on August 1 [5 favorites]


I am also commenting to defend the library associated people.

I volunteer at a very small public library receiving, sorting, and placing books for continuous resale. I also used to be a used book dealer, both in a shop and online..

Books generally are not worth reselling on Ebay or Amazon unless you have a lot of time and space. You can hustle hustle hustle and make 20 or 50 cents profit per book after expenses. Or you can do something else. I'd prefer to do something else.

You need to peddle unusual books in unusually good condition if you want a reasonable return selling online, and unusual books can take months or years to sell. It can be done, but you need to have a dedicated storage arrangement. You need knowledge and training as well.

A volunteer effort at a small library is not a good fit with these criteria, so mostly I let the "real" books go into the sale books. We'll get our modest fee. Someone will get a thrill. It is good enough.
posted by Glomar response at 7:30 PM on August 1 [3 favorites]


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