A quick guide to spotting and avoiding counterfeit textbooks.
In the article:
- Top 5 quick ways to spot a counterfeit textbook
- Get on the early bird list for a big announcement
My opinion about counterfeit textbooks
The threat of counterfeits, in my opinion, is dramatically overblown.
I’ve sold many thousands of textbooks, and to my knowledge have both never sold one, nor ever been accused of selling one (by Amazon or an Amazon buyer).
It was probably the recent (also over-hyped) textbook restrictions that caused the uproar, but lately a lot of Amazon sellers have been concerned about counterfeit textbooks.
I’m not saying counterfeit textbooks don’t exist (I’ve seen them). And I’m not saying there aren’t stories of sellers getting kicked off Amazon for (accidentally) selling counterfeit textbooks.
I am saying there are things that are worth worrying about, and things that are a distraction. And counterfeits never felt like a serious threat to my Amazon business.
Yes, counterfeit textbooks can still destroy an Amazon business
While the threat may be overblown, accidentally selling a counterfeit textbook can get you kicked off Amazon.
So on that positive note, let’s get into a quick checklist of ways to spot a counterfeit textbook.
Note: This article is a dose of personal experience, plus things I stole from other sources.
Counterfeit Clue #1: A high-demand textbook sold for way below Amazon’s price on a non-Amazon site like eBay.
If you’re sourcing online, this is a big one to look for. Counterfeiters love bootlegging the most popular textbooks, then unloading them for cheap(ish) prices on off-Amazon sites like Alibris, eBay, and more.
I would advise you to scrutinize any listing closely, but fact is no seller is going to admit their book is counterfeit. So if it seems too good to be true, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is (good mistakes do happen). But you’re taking your chances.
Counterfeit Clue #2: Thin, low-quality paper.
Big red flag: Paper that is so thin you can see text on one side of the page through the other side of the page.
Counterfeit Clue #3: Thinner book overall.
Often because the paper is so thin and low quality, the book itself will be significantly thinner. If you have concerns, you can look at the dimensions provided on Amazon and see if the spine width differs dramatically from the book you have.
Counterfeit Clue #4: Poor quality distorted cover art.
Art that looks slightly distorted or “off.”
Major textbook publishers will never publish a book with fuzzy or weird cover art. They have whole art departments who make sure this doesn’t happen.
Counterfeit Clue #5: Fuzzy barcode.
The first place I’d look when determining if a textbook is counterfeit is the barcode. If the barcode is distorted or fuzzy – it’s a fake. 100% of the time.
Note: Countefeiters only bootleg expensive, high-demand textbooks.
If you’re not holding a textbook ranked in the top 10,000, it’s probably not counterfeit.
That’s not to say that old counterfeit textbooks won’t stay in circulation, but the bulk of the business in counterfeits is the latest hot new high demand textbooks. They print a bunch of them, sell them quickly, and move on. Those are the books most likely to end up in your Amazon inventory (and be flagged by Amazon).
I did a webinar for Zen Arbitrage members not too long ago where I spent a few minutes on this subject. These webinars are usually kept under lock and key for members only, but I edited out an excerpt where I give a couple minutes to the subject of textbook counterfeits:
Jordan Malik has a cool video showing a lot of what I’m talking about: He shows a counterfeit textbook he found, and some of the clues it was fake:
Textbook season is here.
Except the biggest sales days this year to be the 21st through the 25th.
I want to repost a link to one of many articles I’ve posted on textbooks, going into just about everything you need to know about textbook season:
Are you a newer seller, or someone looking for a step by step system for staring a six-figure Amazon bookselling business – with little money and no experience?
Big announcement coming.
Get on the early bird list here.