The whole story about
Two parts to this article:
- Total rundown of
Amazon‘s trade-in program.
- Exactly how to profit from it (including some exclusive numbers & cool advanced moves)
(If you’re already super-familiar with the ins and outs of
About a year ago, a buzz in the
The idea was very enticing, and it went like this:
There are hundreds of thousands of books (and around half a million items total) that
If you find a copy (book, CD, video game, etc) for sale on literally any site in the world that costs less than than the trade in value, you get to profit the difference (in
And not “profit” in the speculative sense the way you’re used to when selling books:
No more wondering about prices dropping, dealing with seller feedback, repricing, or virtually any headache we’re used to dealing with selling products on
(This is not a puff piece on
The hype is understandable. But is it overblown?
The lazy-person’s way to make money on
It appeals to the secret (or not so secret) lazy person in all of us: Get paid (credit) to click around the internet, and the outcome is guaranteed (only marginal risk –
It almost seems too good to be true. Is there such a thing as easy, risk-free money on the internet?
Yes and no.
“Yes,” if you avoid the most basic mistakes, the risks are minimal (basically a shady seller sending an incorrect / damaged book).
“No,” in that it’s not as easy as the “get rich quick” hucksters make you think (a lot of the trade in credit hype was spread by “get rich quick” marketers like Luke Lambo and “Textbook Money,” who carpet-bombed the internet with webinars for their high priced
The people who do well at trade in credit arbitrage are willing to dedicate serious time to scouring the
(If you’re one of those people with a short attention span who tends to give up if you don’t achieve results in 5 minutes, don’t even try this. It does work, but its not that simple.)
How I got intimate with
Over at my book arbitrage tool Zen Arbitrage, we’ve built a massive data harvesting system that is processing tens of millions of products daily. Among this, trade in value not just for books, but everything. As far as the trade in data, I never really paid attention to it. But after the buzz over
With access to this data, I know exactly what the numbers look like. Exactly what the opportunity is, the price fluctuations, and more. Over the past few months, I’ve gotten to know these numbers intimately.
From looking at this numbers, I can give a more sober take on exactly what the opportunities are in trade in credit arbitrage (fancy term for buying low and selling high), and I’ll be sharing some of those numbers with you both in this article and more over the next week.
There are two parts to this article
- The basics of
Amazon’s trade in program.
- How to profit from trade in.
(If you’re already well-versed in
To submit a trade-in:
- Go to the Trade-In Store and search for eligible items
- Click Trade in to add items to your trade-in submission.
- Select the condition of your item(s) based on the criteria listed, then click Continue.
- Click Submit your trade-in to print your prepaid UPS shipping label.
- Ship your items within 7 days.
A few facts about
The price is locked in for 7 days: As long as the book is shipped by then, you’re guaranteed this amount. To those whose biggest frustration about selling on
The trade in value is inherently a fraction of its expected sales price: The higher the demand for the book, the higher the percentage of its average sales price
Downsides To Trade In Credit Arbitrage
Anyone someone touts “Make instant internet profits with no risk and without leaving your computer!!!” get very suspicious. They’re leaving something out.
Guys like Luke Lambo and “Textbook Money” have spread a lot of hype (and made a lot of enemies) over trade in credit arbitrage, so let’s give a more sober take.
Here’s the other side of trade in credit arbitrage:
- It’s hard.
- It’s volatile.
- You’re inherently not getting the full value for your books.
It’s hard: By hard, I don’t mean “digging ditches” hard. You are in your pajamas on your computer, after all. You have to spend a lot of time scouring
It’s volatile: I’ve seen the numbers. When there is a product on
You’re not getting the full value for your books: By the nature of the fact
So why do trade in credit at all? It appeals to a certain type of risk-averse seller who doesn’t want to deal with volatility – they want something guaranteed.
Upsides to Trade In Credit Arbitrage
- The prices are locked in: You no longer have to worry about price fluctuations and dropping prices.
- You don’t have to wait for a sale: Once
Amazonreceives the book, payment is instant.
- Shipping is free –
Amazonpays for it: Just print a shipping label and you’re good to go.
- You don’t have to leave your computer.
Total number of offers in each category of
- Books: 125,000 to 350,000
- Music: 125,000
- DVDs: 100,000
- Video games: 10,000
That’s the trade in program in a nutshell.
Before we go into more detail, he’s the basic trade In credit mining formula:
- Assess if current lowest price is lower than trade in value (yes this actually happens, as I’ll cover in a moment).
- Run book through Bookfinder.com (or other book price comparison tools) to find the cheapest copy anyone on the internet. Find copies cheaper than the trade-in amount.
- Order it.
- Lock in the price, ship in the book, and get paid.
Going deeper: The three ways to profit off trade in arbitrage:
- Hacking price fluctuations (kind of advanced).
Profit method #1:
Is it possible to actually buy a book on
Yes, you can do that. At any given moment, there are thousands of products on
This means (almost) risk-free
This seems too good to be true, so how does this happen?
To illustrate how and why, let’s take the Books category. On average are 250,000 books in
Then consider that trade in books are inherently high-demand. The average trade in book is selling dozens of copies daily. Let’s just pick a lowball average figure and say the average across the trade in store is 5 copies sold per day. (No one knows what the average is, but this feels like a safe number).
So we know that the price is changing at least 5 times a day (barring sales coming from a seller with multiple copies for sale). With copies so rapidly getting listed, sold, and repriced, there creates incredible price volatility (again, dramatically more than
With these numbers, this means that to one degree or another, there are over one million price changes and one million small opportunities for the price to drop below the trade value. And that’s just within the books category.
(I realize this is extremely flawed math, and I’m not trying give serious estimates here, just a general sense of price volatility).
And this doesn’t even factor in new listings at weird prices, repricers doing the weird things they do often multiple times a day, and sellers manually pricing like crazy people and under-pricing the trade in value.
All of this comes down to one thing: There are 1+ million price fluctuations daily within the
How often does this happen? I have specific numbers for you
How often does the lowest price on
Because we’ve got a monster data-harvesting machine working 24-7 over at Zen Arbitrage, I have some numbers for you.
I just checked a moment ago, looking at just Books and DVDs (excluding all other categories), and got the real-time numbers.
At this moment there are 1,257 products you can purchase for prices below their trade in amount.
That’s over 1,000 instant trade in arbitrage opportunity, without leaving
That’s just at this moment (we don’t store the numbers that would indicate how much lower or higher than average this is 1,257 figure is on a given day, but I asked our developer to store that over the next few days so I may have some super-specific numbers for you next week).
Consider also that these opportunities come and go extremely fast. On any given day, its totally possible there are 10,000+ products appearing (and quickly disappearing) that can be bought and instantly traded in for a profit – all within
And then consider I just looked at two categories (the only two we store data on right now). Across the entire
What do these numbers translate to in terms of a percentage? How often will you see opportunities like this if you were just cruising around
Right now there are 140,000 books in
For Books & DVDs, when you add 140,000 + 80.000, then divide by 1,257, it basically means this:
Approximately 1 out of every 175 products has a price lower than its trade in value.
That’s not cause for a complete lottery-winner freak out, but pretty incredible.
Quite a weird (and cool) glitch in the
Profit method #2: Third-party-site-to-
This is where it gets much easier.
A book can be $100 on
So if you take any book with trade in value and run it through these other sites, there’s a significant chance of finding a copy not just cheaper than
Hopefully this is getting exciting for you.
To make this easier, the way we can do this with one click is BookFinder.com: BF scans over 40 bookselling sites, and sorts them lowest price to highest.
It is true that
Prior to the the new
After the new fees, selling books on other sites became a lot more interesting to a lot of sellers, and based on my unscientific observations,
Even compared to just a year ago, the potential for finding cheaper copies of books on sites other than
How to scan several sites automatically as you search
Let’s say you don’t want to copy-and-paste ISBNs into BookFinder painstakingly one book at a time (who does). Are there shortcuts?
The following two browser extension embed book price comparison data directly onto the
Book Burro (free, limited to 5 sites)
Cleer Platinum (paid, embeds AddAll book price comparison link on
Profit method #3: Timing for historical price fluctuations.
This is where it gets even more interesting.
All I’m going to do right now is tease next week’s article that goes deeper into this (with specific dates for highest and lowest trade in values), but here’s the idea:
Trade in values are fluctuating all the time. Going up, going down, going sideways.
And these aren’t always trends that apply to every book, or every textbook, or any other broad category. They algorithm will adjust based on trends of specific books.
As a random example: Trade in value of certain law books tends to go up around the time of bar exams.
There is a little-known pattern to trade in values – both when they tend to go up, and when they tend to go down. If you know what these dates are, you can time both your purchases and trades to buy low and then trade in when the prices peak.
(Again, we’re locking in that price with one click of a button).
Let’s take a hypothetical example: You’re looking at a medical textbook with a trade in value of $100. You know historically it reaches its peak trade in value in 3 months. There’s a copy for $115. Not enough to profit now, but you know trade in prices are about to surge, so you’re confident this $115 purchase will yield a profit.
S/he with the best data wins.
Recovering gambling addicts beware: This will trigger a relapse.
And now it gets even more interesting
What if you also knew when purchasing prices were cheapest? Instead of just timing your trades for the highest trade in value, what if you timed your purchases to get the lowest price?
(There is a way to get all this data. We’ll get to this next week – I’m just laying out the principles now. Seriously, I can’t wait to share this with you).
Top 5 Tricks For Profiting Off
Let’s get even deeper.
#1: Speed-searching: Increase efficiency 10x by analyzing prices to know when you should click over to BooksFinder.com
We talked about how the best opportunity is in using BooksFinder.com to scan over 40 bookselling sites. But should you click over every for every single book? How do you know what books to click on and which will almost certainly have no opportunity?
There’s a couple of tricks.
First, I have to reiterate there is potential for any book to have room for profit. Literally any book. But if you want to increase efficiency, here’s is what you do:
One, only click over on the highest priced books (we’ll talk about this next).
Two, focus on any book for which the sales price is close to the trade in price. Prices on other sites tend to stay within range of the prices on
So let’s hypothetically say you’re skimming through the
When the sales price is close (I measure “close” by within 1/3) to the trade in value, there’s a dramatically higher likelihood of profit.
#2: Don’t ignore razor thin margins, because the profit is guaranteed
Let’s assume you’re currently in the business of selling books. You probably have rigid profit margin standards (expecting to double your investment, triple, etc).
Do not apply those to trade in arbitrage. This is a different game, with different rules.
Remember the reasons you have those ROI standards to begin with: To buffer against prices dropping, to buffer against
None of those apply with
Would you pay $50 for a book you would only make $5 if you sold it on
But with trade in, most potential for uncertainty is accounted for, and that $5 is virtually guaranteed.
It’s an entirely different way of thinking. Whereas your usual formula goes:
“Will this allow me room for profit when all the smoke clears and buffer me against the potential for a loss.”
…it shifts entirely to this one:
“Is this fixed, guaranteed amount worth my time?”
As an example, the total time cost for that $5 profit book is the time it takes you to checkout, then put it in an envelope and affix the
Those $3 and $5 profit books can really add up.
#3: Profit off timing your trades
Timing your trades is a big part of this game. There are two sides to this: Knowing when prices to buy books are lowest, and knowing when trade in values are highest.
(I’ll be revealing numbers on both next week).
#4: The best opportunity is in the more expensive books
The biggest opportunities are with books in the $100+ range. It’s infinitely easier to find a book with $125 trade in value you can find on another site for $110 than a book with $30 trade in value you can find elsewhere for $15.
#5: Know how to turn
If you can master online book arbitrage, and know how to turn $100 in trade credit into $1,000 (or more), you basically rule the world.
(Article on various formulas to implement this in the next 7 to 10 days).
The only two major ways to screw up trade in credit arbitrage
- Buying international / incorrect editions.
- Buying damaged books.
So I mentioned several times this is a mostly risk free way to profit on
Number one, when you’re buying books outside of
Related to this, similarly unscrupulous sellers will list older editions or custom editions under the ISBN for the current edition. This can be determined in a couple ways: One, the cover will look different (older edition) or will mention the name of a specific school. Two, if there’s no photo, check the description to be sure the edition number matches with the one
Both of these can usually be assessed at a 1.5 second glance.
Second is shipping
- Library copy
- Custom edition textbooks (typically has a school name listed)
- Water damaged (wavy, swollen or discolored, crinkled, stains, rings)
- Broken spine or binding
- Books with torn or taped cover
- Missing, torn, or loose pages
- Burns, fire, or smoke damage
- Strong odor of any kind (including musty odor, cigar or cigarette odor)
- Marked “Not for Resale” (or is otherwise marked not for sale) anywhere on the cover or inside
You can’t protect against every seller who may not grade their books accurately. But this risk can be significantly mitigated by scrutinizing conditions descriptions closely and avoiding any that look ambiguous or outright sketchy.
Next-level: The ultimate hands-off trade in arbitrage formula
We talked about how trade in arbitrage works, and how to find it. A (mostly) risk-free business with online sourced inventory is pretty elegant. How could this get better?
You may have had heard of “prep services.” These are companies who receive inventory on behalf of
Only one problem: Its almost impossible to find a prep service who will take books for
(I’ve scoured the earth and only found one who will take books for trade in.)
But if you can find one (and avoid common mistakes), you have an entirely virtual, and (virtually) risk-free business.
We covered a lot of ground. Here are the takeaways:
Amazontrade in credit arbitrage is laborious, but extremely low-risk.
- Prices within
Amazon‘s trade in store fluctuate one-million-plus times daily.
- These price fluctuations create opportunity to buy on
Amazonand trade in on Amazon(perhaps 10,000+ opportunities daily)
- Opportunities are more abundant using BookFinder.com to scour 40+ other bookselling sites.
- Timing your trades to coincide with historical data and peak values is a big part of this game.
- Best opportunities are in the $75+ trade in value range.
- Chances of finding cheaper copies on non-
Amazonsites go way up when lowest Amazonprice is within 30% of trade in value.
Are the gears turning right now? They should be.
PS: This is Part One in a 4-part series on trade in (its about to get interesting). Coming up over the next 7 to 10 days:
- How To Profit Off Trade In Price Fluctuations: Exactly when trade in prices are highest, and lowest (I poured over the data, and I’ll give you the exclusive).
- Top Secret Update: Not revealing this one yet, but lets just say I’ll be giving an update to an older trade-in related article that randomly was the most highly-trafficked article I’ve ever posted.
- How To Turn Trade Credit Into Cash: I’ll give a simple formula for Turning $100 in
Amazontrade in credit into $500 (or $1,000). I know this sounds ridiculous, but I will deliver.
PPS: Also next week: A cool
PPPS: Questions about