With few exceptions, the company buys almost everything that has an ISBN number. But not every price offered is really attractive: For books like Hape Kerkeling’s, buy discounted books here, which are offered hundreds of times online, the company pays just a quarter of the eBay price – and even that is only a few euros. “You don’t get the top price for your goods at Momox,” admits Timm Langhorst, Momox’s head of marketing. “The advantage is that with us you can conveniently and quickly get rid of a large part of your bookshelf. You don’t have to put your items in the net individually and you get everything taken off immediately.”

The company is stuck with 15 percent of the books it buys, but business is still excellent. Since its founding in 2006, Momox has been in the black. In 2010, the company already made a turnover of 23 million. “In 2011, we almost doubled sales again,” says Christian Wegner.

The 32-year-old CEO doesn’t seem like a big businessman at all. On the face of it, he would fit better in a small bookstore than in the executive chair of a company that employs more than 650 people. His clothes are plain; he could be mistaken for a warehouse worker. Leader rhetoric: absent. The entrepreneur berlins speaks calmly and quietly. If you spot him for the newspaper, he refuses to laugh in a way that some others use to signal to the public: “Look, I can do it!”

Wegner’s rise is reminiscent of the tale of the dishwasher boy who becomes a millionaire. But he doesn’t want to glorify his achievement: “Working hard doesn’t automatically lead to success; luck and chance are also important. I wouldn’t go out on the street and say: open a company, be successful! It doesn’t work that way.”

The story of Momox illustrates how hard work, luck, chance, and ideas can combine to bring success. After training as a merchant, Wegner worked for a Brandenburg timber company for a year. He threw in the towel in 2003 when his employer again only wanted to offer him a temporary contract. The then 24-year-old moved to Berlin, where his search for a new job was surprisingly unsuccessful. A visit to a Kreuzberg store was to set the unemployed man’s life on a new course: he bought a few books from a Turkish antiquarian bookseller that he didn’t want to read after all. He sold the scorned books on eBay. A tome that had cost just two euros ended up selling for ten times that amount. “Wow! Earning 18 euros on a book without having done much, that was super,” Wegner still marvels today.

The idea of earning money by buying and selling used goods on the Internet was born. The Brandenburger quickly specialized in the then more lucrative trade in old CDs. He bought entire collections on eBay, then resold the CDs individually on Amazon. The business quickly got so good that Wegner’s apartment was overflowing with merchandise. After his girlfriend gave him a choice – “The CDs or me!” – he rented 20 square feet for storage. In 2005, the business experienced its first crisis. Wegner noticed that others were also starting to buy up CD collections on a large scale. And more and more sellers of private collections were cheating: “They put good CDs at the top of the box, and the rest underneath was junk.”