Book flipping, or online book arbitrage, is another business idea that takes advantage of the data that Amazon freely supplies. When analysed this data can be presented in ways that enable users to make buying decisions, but what is online book arbitrage?
Note: This post is written from the point of view of someone trying and testing these techniques i.e. me. I’m currently invested in this model and spending several hours a week on it. It’s not just another post pretending to be a review in order to encourage visitors to click through affiliate links although of course it does contain such links.
Before we begin let’s summarise the various processes available to us for selling on Amazon.
Amazon Seller Terms
FBM (Fulfilled By Merchant or MF – Merchant Fulfilled). The seller (merchant) sends the goods to the customer. By doing so they save on Amazon’s storage and handling fees but they also have to deal with all returns and customer service.
FBA (Fulfilled By Amazon). The seller sends the goods to Amazon. By doing so they avoid having to deal with all the returns and customer service but they pay Amazon fees for this service. The goods are stored at an Amazon centre and dispatched to the customer from there.
Retail Arbitrage. Buying products from other retailers then offering them for sale on Amazon. This involves visiting shops in person so there are the additional overheads of time, travel, and parking but if the bargains are only available in these locations then the profit may justify the additional expenses.
Online Retail Arbitrage. Buying products from other online retailers then offering them for sale on Amazon. All done from your laptop or PC.
Now let’s summarise these two methods again but only for books.
Book Arbitrage. Buying books from charity shops (thrift stores), library sales, car boot sales, and other places that sell used books.
Online Book Arbitrage. Buying books from online retailers (including Amazon) and selling them on Amazon at a profit.
You can of course mix both retail and online arbitrage. There’s nothing to stop you from buying from thrift and retail stores and also buying goods for resale online.
In either case the merchant has the option of having the books delivered to a prep centre for checking, storage, labelling, and onward delivery to Amazon.
This means that it’s possible for someone to buy and sell books without ever having to handle one themselves. It’s an ideal business model for those who have limited space and who want a business that is low risk and scalable.
Using prep centres means that you can buy and sell in the USA or UK wherever you happen to live. All it takes is to open an Amazon Seller account in each location. This will incur a small monthly fee which needs to be taken into account when it comes to your gross profit from sales.
So, now that we’ve clarified the terms and the methods let’s look at the tools available to us.
Zen Arbitrage Software
Having evaluated both eFlip and Zen Arbitrage I have opted for the Zen Arbitrage software. In my view Zen Arbitrage is the superior product for several reasons not least of which are:
- Better analysis of the data and presentation of the results
- Better training resources in both video and text
- Speed of results generated from the database
The explanations in the Zen Arbitrage videos are clear and concise and this is essential if you’re new to online book arbitrage as scanning the data and making the buying decisions can seem complicated at first.
Online Book Arbitrage Business Model
In order to generate any meaningful profit you’re going to need to invest a few hundred pounds or dollars. The only way you can scale this business up is if that investment generates sufficient profit that enables you to compound it.
So if you buy 50-100 books and they don’t sell then you’re going to quickly become demoralised and doubtful about your ability to make the right choices. On the other hand, those first few sales will be all the encouragement you need to keep going and scale up.
It’s therefore essential that you keep a sense of perspective and don’t rush into this idea without going through the explainer videos in detail. Slow and steady at first will reap rewards later on.
Some say that the online book arbitrage is best only for textbooks and that these are seasonal with the peak months of January/February and August/September. However, while there clearly is higher demand at these times they do continue to sell throughout the year. It should also be borne in mind that other books, particularly non-fiction, sell well too.
What we’re dealing with here is another example of supply and demand but the single most important reason that this business model works is because of Amazon’s millions of Prime customers.
Opportunities Generated By Amazon
Over the past two decades Amazon has acquired millions of customers. These people are willing to pay more for products that are available elsewhere at lower prices simply because Amazon has made the checkout process so simple and the delivery process so efficient that it satisfies the demand for near instant gratification.
This presents us with an opportunity. If a book is for sale on Amazon and the demand for this book is high enough then stock will gradually diminish. If you offer the same book for sale at the same price and your stock is stored at Amazon then eventually your copy will sell. Not only that, as all that stock sells then those who offer the book for sale at a higher price will eventually sell their copies too.
So if you can find and buy copies of these books that sell well then those that are used ( By used we mean acceptable, good, or very good condition) will sell too at the higher prices as long as the order is fulfilled by Amazon. One click ordering and next day or same day delivery drives sales.
If this business idea interests you then I suggest you take advantage of the Zen Arbitrage 14 day trial offer. Work through the videos, try the software, and ask questions. Make good use of those 14 days.
Other Arbitrage Tools
Another tool you can use to carry similar and additional checks on your potentional purchases is BuyBot Pro.
Some of the checks BBP carries out are identical to those in Zen Arbitrage so it’s not an essential addition but I find it useful as an extra pair of eyes and mostly for its ungating feature.
Some book publishers do not allow sellers to sell used copies of their books (the books are therefore ‘gated’) but some do allow with one simple application. BuyBot Pro checks your Amazon Seller account and in some cases can ungate your account with one click.
It has a host of other featured and checks. Some online retail arbitrage merchants use it and no other tools since for them it contains everything they need. It’s certainly so packed with features that it takes a while to get used to them all and to use it to its full potential.