LOGAN – Jenson Books, located at 1189 West 1700 North, receives two semi truck loads (or approximately 100,000 used books) a day from second-hand stores like Deseret Industries, Good Will and other thrift stores in Utah as well as surrounding states. Jenson Books turns the good books into money and the unsaleable ones are recycled.
They have over 100 college students working their way through Utah State University going through books, scanning them, separating them into piles that will sell.
Steven Jenson said it all started when he bought a book from a library and made a little money reselling it via the internet.
“I bought a book called ‘The Complete Book of Breads’ from the Murray Library in 1999 for $0.25,” Jenson, the owner of Jenson Books, said. “I wanted to make jalapeno cheese bread.”
He needed a book and was looking for one on an old dial-up computer.
“I was looking on book.com and there was a tab that said if you have a book to sell, list it here,” he explained. “I decided to list my bread book and it sold for more than I paid for it.”
Then he ran to the library and bought all the used books they had and put them on the market, some made money, and some did not. Jenson developed a strategy as to what would sell and what wouldn’t.
“I started to look them up on a library computer before I bought some,” Jenson said. “The books started to pile up on the credenza so I started to put them on shelves in the basement and moved them to the garage, then a warehouse in Salt Lake City.”
He didn’t realize how much he missed Cache Valley until he left so he brought himself and the business back to Logan.
“Today we have two warehouses full of books and we get about 100,000 books a day,” he said. “We have close to 80,000 titles in one of our warehouses that we list on Amazon.”
Now, employees scan every book and find the worth and determine the quality of the book using software he developed. Jenson said they have sold millions and millions of books.
He said his biggest asset is having the business in a college town and having student employees.
“Our greatest strength is our college student workforce,” he said. “We try to be flexible with their schedules and hours,” Jenson said. “We have them work part-time during school and when summer comes some leave and the ones that stay can work full-time.”
Jenson is an advocate for children’s books. He collects them and gives them to local elementary schools.
“I don’t like to hear teachers buying supplies out of their own pocket,” he said. “So, when we get requests for books we try and give them some.”
When he was talking to someone about his business the guy said it was scalable business, it has no ceiling.
“It is surprising that books are even a thing with books online. People still want to read books,” Jenson said. “I’ve found the younger crowd, people in their 20’s or 30’s, like to read books. The older crowd in their 50’s and 60’s read using electronic tablets.”
Jenson Books also has their own growing retail store on the south end of the warehouse.
“Book stores are hard to find around here,” he said, “so people will have a place to come and shop for books locally.”
He said people who like to read are his worst employees.
Jenson is also dabbling in new books and outdoor products.
“I like to ride bikes and ski, so I am developing some outdoor products,” he said. “We are trying to ship them the same way we ship books.”