How I profited by buying books at Barnes & Noble and reselling them on Amazon: My recent (& profitable) “retail arbitrage” textbook hustle
Buying new books from Barnes & Noble & reselling on Amazon
In the last Barnes & Noble retail arbitrage post, I told the story of buying a $900 book for $30.
My latest Barnes & Noble “retail arbitrage” book sourcing hustle is even more interesting.
Not long ago, I purchased the 2nd edition of a technical reference book at Barnes & Noble for $50.This was a book I bought for personal use (I’m into a lot of weird subjects).
For whatever reason, I searched the title on Amazon later that night and the first result was not the 2nd edition (the edition I had). The top result was the 1st edition, that had been published two years prior.
Apparently, Amazon’s search algorithm had a little glitch, and didn’t return the latest edition as the first search result. The interesting thing was, the first edition of the book was out of print, going for $200, and was ranked better than 500,000.
And because Amazon was showing the 1st edition as the top result, the 1st edition had a better Amazon sales rank than the newer, 2nd edition.
What I did next is probably controversial
In fact, it’s totally against Amazon’s rules.
Before divulge my trick here, two points as disclaimers:
- I consider this 100% victimless.
- Not only not victimless, I’m actually over-delivering (giving the customer a better product than they paid for).
Still, its tactics like those I’m about to describe that gets me in trouble with the more “by the book” segments of the Amazon selling community.
Okay, so what did I do???
I immediately listed my 2nd edition on the Amazon product page for the 1st edition. And I sent the book I had just paid $50 into Amazon priced at $200.
And it sold.
So I did it again. And then again.
Barnes & Noble only had one copy, so I’ve bought the last 3 directly from Amazon. Then I’ve turned around and shipped the book right back to them.
Right now, I’m on copy number four of this title, making over $100 each time.
How is it possible to buy a $50 book and list on Amazon for $200?
Why is the first edition still selling so well, and for so much?
I can only imagine it’s because its the first search result when people look for it on Amazon, and its out of print. Amazon itself is not selling the book, and there’s so few 3rd party sellers who have listings that it keeps the price sky-high.
That 1st edition is getting all the search traffic, and Amazon buyers don’t scroll down the page to notice the (newer) 2nd edition. Just a weird Amazon glitch.
Is this unethical?
I don’t think so.
When I looked more closely at the book, the 2nd edition had 30 extra pages. There were no discernable changes other than the addition of those 30 pages, so buyers are actually getting more than they paid for. Customers are in fact getting a newer, updated edition of the book they ordered.
It is highly unlikely they are seeking anything in the 1st edition that is not in the 2nd edition (I checked to make sure the publisher hadn’t announced any removal of content). And I’ve gotten no returns.
In all likelihood, they purchased the first thing that showed up in the search results merely because it was the first thing. That’s it.
These kind of opportunities to profit on Amazon are everywhere, if you look for them.