Book Arbitrage: How to Make Money Selling Books on Amazon

There’s wealth in books. I’m not just referring to the information and knowledge you can draw from every page. It also has to do with the inherent value of physical books with actual pages you can turn.

In today’s world where people gravitate towards the convenience provided by e-books, you’d be surprised that there’s still a market for books. In fact, a survey conducted by Nielsen show that e-book sales decreased in 2016 by 4%. It is also the second consecutive year that the sales of digital books dipped. Conversely, the sales of print books rose to $7 in the same year.

There are different factors that come into play why the sales between print and digital fluctuated. However, there’s no denying that print books are here to stay.

As an entrepreneur and hustler, there’s money to be made in every opportunity. Regarding print books, you can capitalize on the market through book arbitrage.

In this post, you will learn:

  • what book arbitrage means
  • the step-by-step guide of textbook arbitrage
  • how you can make money with online book arbitrage through Amazon
  • examples of people who made money through book arbitrage

Book arbitrage: What’s the fuss about?

In a nutshell, book arbitrage refers to the process of finding cheap books from a vendor and reselling them at a higher rate to turn in a profit. For this post, we will zero-in on online arbitrage opportunities so you can find the cheapest and most in-demand books in the market with the least effort. You can also try your luck at thrift stores and find even books that are cheaper so you can increase your ROI. However, the disadvantage of When reselling them, we will then focus on using Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon)  to facilitate the packaging and delivery of orders to customers. More of these later as we go deeper into the step-by-step process of book arbitrage.  You can also follow a different process, by finding books on Amazon using plugins that are underpriced, and then trading them in using Amazon’s textbook trade in feature.

Just like other forms of online arbitrage, selling books online has its pros and cons. A distinct advantage it has over others is the immediate ROI you can generate from book arbitrage when done correctly. There are variables you need to control and master to increase your earnings. We will discuss these variables in the later portion of the post.

However, the downside of book arbitrage and with most physical products is the initial investment. You must pay for the books first before you can make an offer to the market. Also, we’re not just talking about the books you will buy low and resell high – you also need to invest in tools and platforms to help you find books that you can make a profit on. Lastly, you need to wait as long as possible for people to order and pay for the books, which is unlike a trade-in program that only take a week’s time to see the results. Therefore, if your capital can’t manage the overhead of buying books and don’t have the patience waiting on customers, then consider other arbitrage opportunities.

Despite the glaring cons, online book arbitrage is very scalable. If you follow the process to a tee, you can offset the initial costs fast enough so you can focus on making a profit with selling books. In fact, you can turn this hustle into a full-time job to maximize your profit!

The step-by-step instructions of book arbitrage

As mentioned, you need to find books sold cheap so you can sell it high and make a profit. While the process seems very simple and straightforward enough, there are different factors you need to worry about so you can sell your books consistently. You can just choose cheap books at random for you to sell at higher prices at random. You need to research your market and understand the trends for you to sell books effectively.

Therefore, below are the variables in question:

Find a niche or books to sell

From the start, you need to determine the books you want to sell online. It’s not as simple as picking a best-selling book to sell. You need to establish a process of finding the best books to sell and sell through Amazon.

A niche you should highly consider are student textbooks. Despite the ease of accessing digital books, college textbooks have strangely risen up to 1,041% since 1977. Add to the fact that students learn more effectively from print books than digital copies only make the niche even more lucrative.

Another niche worth covering are comic books. Despite the popularity of comic book adaptation films by Marvel and DC, comic books remain a relatively small market. After all, there is more to comic books than two of the most popular comic book publishers. There’s a wealth of comic book selections written and produced by small and obscure publishers.

Therefore, you need to be strategic when choosing books you will purchase and sell on Amazon. Instead of using Amazon’s native search to scour its database for books, there are two tools that will help the process of searching for your book niche much easier.

TexTrader

One way to profit from book arbitrage is buying books from third-party seller on the cheap and selling them to Amazon at a higher price. You can earn a profit of $25 on average for each book. The more books you can buy and sell, the more money you will get!

As mentioned, however, it is difficult to find books sold at low prices. It will be a trial-and-error process of searching books sold by third parties. Visiting bookstores and scanning their bar codes isn’t an ideal process. There’s a huge chance that the bookstores you visit don’t carry books you can sell and make a profit from.

To make the job easier, you need a tool that will find the cheapest books to buy so you can maximize your profit once you sell them on Amazon. For this purpose, you need TexTrader.

TexTrader-Screenshot

By entering a keyword on the search bar, you will unearth hundreds of books sold by third parties on the cheap in minutes. You also see the profit you will generate if you successful buy the books and trade them in on Amazon. The tool does the heavy lifting to help you make informed decisions so you can focus on earning money through book arbitrage!

The tool costs a onetime payment of $59 – you don’t have to worry about monthly costs. For a lifetime access, you can search for books and topics you want to focus on selling as many times as you want. If you’re not happy with the product, you have a 30-day window to return it and get your money back  – no questions asked.  Get TexTrader Here.

Keepa

Keepa gathers the latest and best deals for you according to category. You will see the drop of the price in percent. While some drop in the price of products are impressive and make your want to buy immediately, Keepa  provides additional data that will help you make an informed decision beyond its current amount.

amazon price history - keepa

If you click on a deal from the list, You can see the product’s price tag over the years to see its peak and down years. From here, you can gauge if you need to buy the book now or wait until the price goes lower before you make an offer. However, by waiting for so long, the price can go back up to its original price. The same thing goes when selling the book – you need to wait until the price hikes back up again to its highest. Therefore, it’s all about timing with book arbitrage.

sales rank - keepa

There’s also a reason the book decreased in price. If you check its Sales Rank, the product may have decreased in ranking, so the demand for the book is the lowest it’s been. Therefore, you need to think twice and weigh all the different variables involved before making a smart purchase.

CamelCamelCamel

price history - ccc

Another tool you can use is CamelCamelCamel. Similar to Keepa, you can track of a product’s price. You can compare the price of a book on Amazon and from third-party suppliers both old and new copies. If the price of the book on Amazon is more expensive compared to third-party suppliers, then buy the book from them and plan on selling them on Amazon. If you want the price of the book to reach a certain price, then input it on the tool and it will notify you once the price drops or increased to the figure you entered.

You can also check the Sales Rank tab to see how many people are buying the book. If the product dropped in price, then there’s a chance that the Sales Rank decreased too. However, if you look at the graph, you will see a trend on when these books pick up their price again. Using the data provided here, you can make educated decisions on the best times when to buy the book and sell it.

The tool lets you see the top price drops for books for the past days (up to seven days). It helps make the research easier because it gives you the list of books with the biggest drop in prices.

Determine the price

With retail arbitrage, you must focus on the volume of sales instead of the price per unit. It’s more difficult to move expensive products in the market. Also, buyers become more critical of the product and may request for a refund is they are not satisfied with the product.

By relying on the number of products you can sell, you can turn in a profit faster. Also, buyers burn disposal income for cheaper products so they are less critical.

The books need to cost between $20-200. The rate of the books you will sell depends on the average price in the market, in particular the FBA sellers. Ideally, you want to sell yours much cheaper than theirs. However, make sure you don’t go below the amount you paid for the book. To prevent this from happening, do your due diligence first by scouring the market for the price difference of the book before buying it at a lower price.

Keep track of the demand

Arguably the most important and valuable factor when choosing which books to sell, you must ensure there is interest in the title you plan on selling. The interest must manifest into a number of sales in a period. To find out if there is a demand for the books you’re reselling, you must use a tool like Keepa that keeps track of the number of sales for a book or product on Amazon. If the book has over five sales according to Keepa, then there is an interest in the book. The higher the demand, the better! The Chrome extension also lets you analyze the price history of the product to see if the product’s price is on the downtrend or is peaking at the moment.

Also, you might wonder why FBA sellers are pawning books at such high costs compared to a non-FBA seller (an MF or Merchant Fulfilled one) that sell the books at lower costs and yet FBA sellers are raking in the profits. It’s because Amazon Prime members who maintain a $9/month subscription enjoy the perk of two-day shipping time for most orders among other benefits. As a buyer, you’d want to get your hands on the book as soon as possible. This is in contrast with MF sellers in which local buyers will have to wait 15-20 days before they receive their order on the mail.

If Prime members have no problem paying higher costs for a book that available at a lower price, then there is a demand for the product!

Ensure physical condition of book

Some buyers are very stringent with the book’s quality. If you’re selling used academic books, it is common to see highlighted sections in the page. Amazon categories the condition of these books are “good” or “acceptable.” You can still sell them on Amazon but you may not sell them at the price you desire. Also, Amazon may tag used books as “new” even if the books are in near-mint condition. However, don’t expect that all near-mint condition books will pass as new.

Consider the fees

When selling through Amazon, you won’t pocket 100% of your earnings. For every book sold, Amazon takes 15% from the total sales and at least $3 or mess (depending on the book’s weight). Therefore, you need to offset the fees by finding a product that is cheap and sells well enough so you can still turn in a profit.

Under fees are shipping costs. For sellers who knows their way around fulfillment, they can ship and deliver the books themselves. This option is convenient if the books are light so you don’t have to shoulder additional costs. However, once the orders come flowing, you will find balancing sales and fulfillment difficult. Therefore, Amazon FBA is an attractive option if you want to delegate the entire fulfillment duties to Amazon so you can focus on growing your sales and generating higher profit margin. While Fulfillment by Amazon is more expensive because it provides turnkey solutions to packaging and delivering your orders, there’s no premium placed on convenience. Also, the cost of shipping the books to Amazon is very affordable thanks to the UPS discounts.

Building the product page

Once you have your system in place, you want to build a product page that’s a cut above the rest. The competition will be difficult since you’ll be going up against seasoned FBA sellers with years of experience under their belts. But you’ll never know if you can make money through book arbitrage unless you try!

Keyword research

If you want to start from a relatively unknown but highly profitable niche, then you need to learn how to conduct basic keyword research. Since the plan is to get more people to see your product page on Amazon to buy the book, you must settle for generic keywords that people search for. Aside from optimizing for the book’s title, you need to find keywords that describe the book for people who are not aware of the book’s title will see your product page and potentially buy it.

keyword tool

As generic as Keyword Tool sounds, it is arguably the best keyword research tool that calculates the keyword’s search volume on Amazon. By knowing how many people search for the keyword, you can find the best keywords related to optimize for your book’s product page.

You can type the title of the book to show keyword ideas you can use for your product page. To broaden the search result, enter a much more generic seed keyword in the search bar. For instance, instead of the book’s title, search for the genre of the book to unearth more keywords.

Another tool you can use for your keyword research is Keyword Inspector. Similar to Keyword Tool, it lets you find Amazon keywords based on search volume. However, what makes Keyword Inspector better to some extent is its Reverse ASIN feature. By entering your competitor’s ASIN number on the search bar, the tool will help you unearth keywords your best competitors are ranking for. It’s a paid tool that requires you to buy credits so you can unlock more data.

If you’re serious about book arbitrage or retail arbitrage, then using both keyword tools allows you to find keywords you can use for your product listing!

Product listing optimization

Once you’ve decided on keywords for your product listing, you need to follow the best practices on how to optimize your product pages. Optimizing your Amazon product pages is like optimizing your website for Google. The idea is to make your product listing appear on top of results for your target keywords so more people will click on your page and buy from you.

Below are tips you need to follow to get the most out of your product listing on Amazon:

  • The title of the page shouldn’t only contain your keywords but also its brand, product line, key features, product type, and more. The key is to be as descriptive as you can and limit the character count to 115-144.
  • If you can’t work in some keywords in the title, then you need to include them in the bullets section of the product listing. Also, you need to test the conversion rate of your product page by rearranging the order of the bullet points and see which converts the best.
  • Product descriptions help convince people to buy the book from you. Don’t insert keywords just for the sake of having them there. You need to produce a well-written and compelling description that puts the book over and engross people to buy the book.
  • Use the back-end search terms to include keywords you haven’t mentioned in your product listing. This section is not visible to users but Amazon search crawls the content you input here.
  • Generate authentic positive feedback from customers who bought your book. The reviews serve as social proof – the higher the score you get, the more chances your listing will appear on top of search results and increase your conversion rate.

For a more detailed explanation of these points, head on to this excellent post at BigCommerce.

A software that can help optimize your product listing is Helium 10. It’s a full suite of Amazon tools that include keyword research, competitor spying, keyword tracking, and more. But the software’s Scribbles tool lets you maximize how you use the best keywords on your product listing. Doing so lets your page rank higher on Amazon search if users search for your keyword phrases.

Keep track of your books and sales

Once you have the books on hand and ready for sale, you need to keep track of the books, their conditions, the time and date you sold them and for how much, and the profit you garnered from the sale. Cross-reference your records with a book arbitrage software so you can stay on top of things and watch out for your earnings.

Being an FBA seller makes total sense if you do not understand how to manage your inventory and ship the orders on your own. Letting Amazon FBA take care of that aspect in your business allows you to focus on finding more books to sell and improve the performance of your product listing.

However, it doesn’t mean you are hands-off regarding fulfillment. Since you have a stake on how Amazon moves your books, you need to track how Amazon fulfills the orders for you. There are lots of book arbitrage software and tools to choose from in this post. Not all tools are the same, mind you. Some tools only cover inventory quantities and profit margin while others let you conduct product research and competitor monitoring. Also, there are platforms in the list that work just as good outside Amazon FBA. As mentioned, you need to know what you’re doing if you forego Fulfillment by Amazon.

Are you ready for book arbitrage?

Making money on Amazon via book arbitrage is a very tall order. There’s stiff competition on whichever book you want to sell and are most using the same tactics and tools mentioned in the post. However, the high barrier of entry only means there’s a lot of money to be made with book arbitrage.  Following the step-by-step guide above should prepare you for the arduous task ahead.

Even if you prefer digital books, you can’t deny the charm of printed books. It engages the sense more than any form of books. Holding and carrying the book, smelling the pages of a newly opened book, and turning the pages are experiences you can’t replicate. These are reasons print books remain. And by selling them through Amazon, you carry out the value of these books to the next generation.

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