In this article:
- ZenTrade is live.
- How Textbook Money copying us inspired us to copy them.
- The 4 rules I set before releasing ZenTrade.
- How I set out to be an expert in trade-in & buy back sites, and what I learned.
- Why I chose this week to release it (it was strategic).
- Why I’m probably raising the price next week (and why I’m not sorry for it).
By now, you’ve heard the story/scandal around “Textbook Money” (aka “Book Trades.biz”)
In the midst of sorting out how much data the culprits had stole from us, we got a look at the actual Textbook Money / Book Trades Chrome extension. What does a $1,000 + $97/month piece of software look like?
It was kind of staggering. As in, staggeringly bad. Staggering simplistic. Staggeringly unimpressive.
The trade-in data was incomplete. The profit estimation figures were completely insane. And the links were weird. Why would you link to Craisglist in an online arbitrage tool?
My developer said: “They charge $1,000 for this? This unbelievably simple. It would be really easy to make this, and make it better.”
This got my attention. Imagine the poetry of making a better version of Textbook Money. The story would look like this:
- We get our data stolen & our book arbitrage software copied.
- We copy them, and do it 10x better.
Sometimes, you have to create your own karma.
As a general concept, I liked the idea of a trade-in arbitrage tool like this. But…
The concept is very simple:
Create a tool that scans the
Amazon page, then alerts you for products that can be purchased for less than their Amazon trade-in or cash buyback site value.
This lets you lock in the trade-in or buyback price, buy the cheaper item, and profit the difference. And all you really have to do is surf
Conceptually its pretty cool, but before I created just another software tool I wanted to set some ground rules…
The four things I told my developer before building ZenTrade
I told my developer there were four rules before we would begin building a Textbook Money competitor:
- Has to be better than them.
- Has to be cheaper than them.
- Has to be a 100% hands-off system.
- Has to work for credit & cash.
#1 was a programming problem, which was up to him. However the last three were 100% up to me.
Why I set these rules – one by one
The reason for #1 and #2 was obvious.
The reason for #3 was that I knew from reading emails from ex-Textbook Money members that approximately half of them were overseas & needed a prep service to receive their orders.
I also knew people that trade-in and buyback arbitrage people were at the extreme end of the “run a business in my pajamas” spectrum. Many of them wouldn’t want to ever touch a book, and I needed the entire system to be virtual. This means I needed to find a prep service that would accept books for trade-in, which I knew was almost impossible.
The reason for #4 was because even if I threw my hat in the trade-in arbitrage game, I was not a trade-in person at heart. Turning $100 cash into $500 credit would do wonders for my record collection (yes
A good percentage of the ex-Textbook Money members said the same thing: “I invested thousands of dollars and all I’m left with is useless
This means I needed a tool to mine
Next step: Become an expert in the trade-in and buyback game
Once my developer got to work, I had my own work to do.
I set out to learn everything I could about the trade-in & book buy back sites. I wasn’t going to promote anything I wasn’t 100% enthusiastic about. And it goes without saying I wasn’t going to promote a business model that simply didn’t work.
What I learned was encouraging, even as an old-school bookseller. I learned things like:
- Just how often prices on
Amazonactually drop below their trade-in value (its not insanely common, but it happens a lot more than I thought).
- The existence of book buy back sites (I barely knew these existed before, but I learned they will often pay more in cash than a book costs on
Amazon, and they lock in a price – you don’t even have to wait for a sale.)
- How often book buy back sites will pay more in cash than you can buy it for on
Amazon(This is where it gets even better: Instant cash opportunity, and skipping trade-in altogether. This happens WAY more than I thought.)
- Using trade-in values to detect severely underpriced offers on
Amazon(so you can skip trade-in altogether, identify underpriced books, and make quick cash sales on Amazonfor a profit.)
After digging into the data and spending months practicing it myself, I knew two things:
- This was a legitimate and profitable business model.
- The people teaching this material already didn’t realize its full potential.
Back to my four rules: Here’s how I accomplished each one
When I finished my research phase, I got back to my developer with the plan:
#1: How we’ll make it better than “Textbook Money”
- Historical trade-in data: Display dates of highest and lowest book trade in values from each semester, so you can time your trades to get the highest amount.
- Historical pricing data: Display dates of highest and lowest prices, so you can time your purchases to pay the lowest amount.
- Price differential figures: In terms of a percentage, how much higher or lower is the trade-in value or book price than average?
- Expanded book buyback site data: Display book buy back offers from more sites than any other tool.
- 12-month average sales rank: For those who want to skip trade-in and sell books, display a book’s true demand.
- Make it for not just books, but all categories: Display arbitrage opportunity for DVDs, video games, and everything.
- No-scroll searching: Display profit totals at the top of each page, then enable keyboard shortcuts to advance ahead pages and skip scrolling.
- No phony profit totals: Display real, locked-in profit totals; not speculative numbers backed by fuzzy math.
- Underpriced item detection: Alert to cash opportunities by buying underpriced items and selling them for quick cash back on
#2: Making it cheaper.
(I’ll get to this in a second.)
#3: How we’ll make it 100% hands-off.
This one was hard. I had almost given up hope, but at the last minute I arranged a deal with an existing prep company: They would bend their rules, just for ZenTrade members, and accept books for
#4: How we’ll make it for trade-in and cash.
This was the monster project, and the one that I was most passionate about. After weeks of scribbling in my notepad and coma-levels of caffeine, here was my “make cash with trade in” system in three parts:
1. Complete credit-to-cash training. Let’s say someone goes for racking up
2. Expanded book buy back data. I made sure people had the option of going straight for the cash by displaying more book buy back site offers than any other tool – cash offers that are often more than
3. Underpriced offer detection. Using trade-in values to detect underpriced
Last step: Time the release perfectly
ZenTrade has been 95% completed for awhile. The decision to wait and release it this week is very deliberate.
The last 2 weeks of December is the best time to get into the trade-in and buy back game.
- Textbook prices are historically at their lowest in December.
- Trade-values surge in late-December.
- ZenTrade is the perfect way to avoid your family during the holidays: Hide behind your computer and tell them you have to “work.”
ZenTrade is about a lot more than
You already know if you want this.
Why I’m probably raising the price next week
As a tool to strictly just find
As a tool to also find instant
As a tool that finds underpriced items on
So why such a low price?
Textbook Money is charging $1,000 for an inferior version of this. I could charge $500 and still be hailed as a hero to Textbook Money’s victims.
Instead, when deciding how to price ZenTrade, here’s what we did:
- We got rid of the $997 “buy in” price. (There’s no buy-in price at all.)
- We cut the monthly price in half.
If I was going to be honest, I’m setting this (temporary) price for 3 reasons:
- When you release something, you’re supposed to have a “sale.” It’s like a cosmic law or something. $47 is the “sale” price (doubling next week).
- I want it to be very profitable even if you only use ZenTrade an hour or two a week.
- Releasing something at 1/10 the price just sounds cooler than “half the price.”
But we’re probably raising the price after next week. I’m not saying that in a cheesy “Order now and get it for half off!!!!” salesman way. I mean we are literally, seriously leaning towards doubling the price.
This is it.
- Instant access to the software – Install ZenTrade in your browser with one-click
- Instant access to the training system – Watch our 14 training videos (you only have to watch 2 to get started)
See everything you can do with ZenTrade, including a video and more, here.
And that’s the story about how Textbook Money copied us, and inspired us to copy them right back.
Sometimes you make your own karma.
PS: If you’re a part of any forum or online group where you know there are other Textbook Money members, feel free to post this there.
PPS: Any questions about ZenTrade, post below.Also, claim your free book: