Textbook Arbitrage Demystified – The Basics You Need To Understand




Do you all know how I got started in the whole world of selling online? It’s actually quite the interesting story.

I started selling on Amazon when I was in college. I was a part of a Facebook group for students and in this group students sold textbooks to students to avoid the high cost of the bookstore.

I saw an opportunity.

I knew that textbooks could be resold on multiple platforms and I realized that the prices of the books in the Facebook groups were much lower than the trade-in value. An arbitrage opportunity was spotted and I decided to take advantage of it.

I simply started asking students for the ISBN numbers of their books and then I would search them up on the different trade-in platforms. If I saw money to be made, I would buy the books. If not, I would pass. It was actually quite simple.

I did this for 3 semesters at college and here were my results:

Spring Semester 2012 (when I spotted the opportunity): $250ish 

Fall Semester 2013: $1,000 – I ran out of cash to pay the students for their book (#cashflowissues). I bought myself some nice golf clubs.

Spring Semester 2013: $5,000 – I took my wife to Jamaica to celebrate 

I literally sat on Facebook, searched for trade-in prices, and met students at the library. That was it.

The process for textbook arbitrage is really simple.

  1. Figure out what books are for sale
  2. Search the ISBN numbers on a trade-in platform (3 of them are listed below)
  3. Purchase the books that will make you money
  4. Make sure the books are in good condition and have all the required materials (always check to make sure they aren’t international editions).
  5. Submit the trade-in and print out the free shipping label
  6. Send off the books
  7. Make money
  8. Repeat

Now that you see that the process is actually quite simple, you can start to think outside of the box a bit.

Case and point: Our new Textbook Arbitrage Extension

Since I am no longer a student, I don’t have access to the college sources of inventory (actually I do since I work at a university, but that isn’t the point I’m trying to make).

I know that there is money to be made from this textbook arbitrage method, but I needed to find another place that had a large number of sellers that might not know about the trade-in programs offered from other sites (or even Amazon for that fact).

Wait a second. Wasn’t Amazon created as an online book store…….

So how I can quickly identify which books are going to be a good candidate for a trade-in program?

Well, I literally started out by search a genre of textbooks and clicking on each and every one of them. I know. Time consuming.

So I decided that there had to be an easier way. And thus, our Textbook Arbitrage Extension was born!

Since we released TexTrader, we have had a ton of questions since then. I want to take the time to answer of a few of them right now.

Is this legal?

Well yeah. You are just purchasing books and reselling them at a high price. You are just playing the middle man and taking advantage of the arbitrage opportunity.

Can you buy using Amazon Prime?

Well no. You should follow the same rules as you do when sourcing for Amazon to Amazon flips. Mike has a nice post about this that you can read here. The first few paragraphs should answer your question.

Chris. This pays in Amazon gift cards. I can’t pay my bills with Amazon gift cards.

Well there are a few points I want to address here:

  1. You can actually buy your Comcast internet service through Amazon (I don’t know if you can pay with gift card or not).
  2. Of course Amazon is going to pay you in Amazon gift cards. They can actually pay a premium by doing this. You will notice that Amazon typically offer 30-50% more for a book trade-in since they are using their own gift cards.
  3. The magic is in the converting of these gift cards into cash.

I say magic, but it’s really not that complicated.

There are a few simple ways to do this:

My personal favorite:

Use the gift cards as a bank roll of Amazon to Amazon flips. If you don’t know how to do this, please read this post or this one.

Amazon isn’t the only place you can trade-in books……

Looking to get cash, try searching on one of these pages:




You can also get creative….

Have some people that are always buying from Amazon? Buy their items for them and have them pay you in cash. Do the same with businesses, etc.

Set an initial investment and build up your bankroll to actually buy the things you use on a daily basis (like food, clothes, etc).

How do I know if there is additional materials that are supposed to accompany my book?

I find that 80% of the books don’t come from the publishers with extra material. I always double check that the publisher’s website to see if it even came with extras to begin with.
I have found that sellers set generic condition notes and they go on every book. So don’t always go by what you see on that listing.

Will there be support for the application?

Yes. We always back the items we sell and offer a 30 day money back guarantee if you’re not happy for any reason.

Ready to get started?

Click here to buy TexTrader and try it out for yourself



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  1. Hi, I’m looking into buying this Chrome extension, but I have a question. When you purchase from a 3rd party seller and they send the book to you via media mail (sloooow), will you still have enough time to get it back in to Amazon within their timeframe window? Is this ever a problem?

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