Smart Phone Scanners Vs PDA Scanners

You have probably seen them before, and even if you haven’t you will soon. Book scanners are the quickest and easiest way to identify those high priced books from the rest of the worthless (re-sale wise) books. This is the single most important (and probably most expensive) investment you will eventually make in your business. There are many different types of book scanners out there and choosing the right one for you can be an overwhelming process.

These are the two main options:

PDA Scanner:

PDA scanners are stand-alone units that are purchased specifically for book-scanning. You DON’T need a cell phone service plan or internet connection to use them. There are several different options to choose from but the most popular is the Dell Axim series (X50, X50v, X51v). These PDA’s are no longer manufactured by Dell but have found a niche use by book scanners because the are (relatively) simple to set-up and use.

Along with the PDA you also need to purchase a bar code scanner to plug into it which will actually scan the barcode on each book. Socket Scan is a popular brand of scanner that many book scouts use for their PDA’s. These two individual pieces work together to show you what the price of each book is.

You also need to purchase a subscription service to a company which will supply you with the database of information that your PDA will use to check the prices of each book. There are many different companies that offer this service, like scoutpal, fba power, neato-scan, and asellertool. I will go into more details of each and talk more about the pros and cons of each service in a later post. I will also tell you which one I personally use and the reasons why.

You can purchase a “Book Scouting Package” from several of these database companies. This package will include the PDA, Scanner, and subscription to the service. This can be a GREAT way to get everything you need without the hassle or headaches of having to set it all up. However, you will pay more for one of these packages, usually around $500-$700. You can do it more cheaply though. With a little research and savy shopping you can get everything and set it up fairly easily for around 1/2 that price.

PDA scanners are FAST and that is by far the biggest benefit for anyone who gets serious as a book scouter.

Smart Phone Scanner:

This is the other main type of device you will see a lot of people using when looking for books. These individuals use their existing smart phones to download an App that scans the bar code on a book by taking a picture of the bar-code and converting it to the ISBN number (*ISBN number is the unique 10 or 13 digit number assigned to every book to identify it: stands for International Standard Book Number). It then checks the book number against it’s database of books and prices that it has downloaded from, and then gives the user (you) the price the book sells for on-line. This is the same thing that the PDA does except that the smart phone is not able to do it quite as quickly. The reason for the slower times is that the cell phone has to be connected to internet while it is working and it has to download the data each time it completes a search. This download can take an extra 4-5 seconds for each book, which doesn’t seem like a lot. However, when you consider the fact that you could be scanning hundreds and even thousands of books a day, those seconds REALLY start to add up. Almost every serious professional book scout uses a PDA instead of a smart phone simply for the time savings. You can scan through 3-5 times as many books in the same amount of time with a PDA.

However, assuming you already have a smart phone and internet service, the cost of turning your existing smart phone into a book-scanning super phone is very low. You can find subscriptions to the services for around $30-$50 without purchasing any additional equipment. This can be a great choice for anyone interested in starting but leery of making the big initial investment in the PDA.

There are benefits of each type and downsides for both as well, deciding which one is for you is an individual choice that you should make only after doing a lot of research and figuring out which is best for you. I strongly encourage you to DO that research, look at the different options, different prices, and options for each.

I will also included a section in my book comparing each option and listing the pro’s and con’s of each, so you can save those hours of on-line research. If you were going to purchase the book anyway, this is just another huge benefit.