How to make money flipping books on amazon i recently learned about a side hustle where you can earn money flipping books on amazon. In this post, i'm going to talk about the pros and cons of flipping books, and show you how you can make extra money with just a few hours a week of work. I'll also share a shortcut that will cut your search time by 80% or more. %

I recently learned about a side hustle where you can earn money flipping books on Amazon. In this post, I’m going to talk about the pros and cons of flipping books, and show you how you can make extra money with just a few hours a week of work. I’ll also share a shortcut that will cut your search time by 80% or more.

Book flipping – what is it, exactly?

The fancy name for the process? Book arbitrage. Arbitrage is the practice of taking advantage of a price difference between two or more markets, then capitalizing on the difference. And while it sounds a little scandalous, we do a sort of version of it all the time.

People buy name brand clothing at thrift stores or yard sales and sell them at consignment shops for a higher price.

Or you find golf clubs on the side of the road that some rich guy in Fort Lauderdale is giving away for free and you sell them on eBay for over a thousand bucks, like I did.

Or you find a really terrible, but original painting at a thrift store for cheap and sell it at auction for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Book arbitrage, or book flipping as many people call it, is basically where you buy books that are in demand at a cheap price and sell them for more. This could include rare first editions, popular but hard-to-acquire books, or one of the most popular types of books for this purpose… textbooks.

Yes, every year, college students spend a fortune on books that they use for a year and then they’re done. They often sell their books to other students or to used bookstores that then turn around and resell them, oftentimes on Amazon.

Amazon’s trade-in program

And that’s where the opportunity to make money comes in. You see, a lot of people don’t realize this, but Amazon has a pretty awesome trade-in program when it comes to books. With all of their smart algorithms and such, they are aware when certain books are in demand, what they’ll sell for, etc. So Amazon lets you “trade in” your old books, and they pay you for them. Then they turn around and sell the books at a profit.

Sometimes you can find the same books from other retailers on Amazon for a cheaper price than what Amazon is buying them back for. Which means you can buy the book at a cheaper price, then turn around and sell it to Amazon at a higher price.

Buy ON Amazon to sell TO Amazon. Weird, right?

So let’s say you go on Amazon and see that Amazon is paying $100 for a specific book on Economics. A small bookstore is selling the same book on Amazon for $85. You buy it for $85, and trade it in for $100. You just profited $15.

But what about shipping, you ask? Great question. When you trade in a book through Amazon’s trade-in program, they send you a pre-paid shipping label. You don’t pay a dime to ship it.

Just box the book up, slap the free shipping label on it, and hand it to your postman. Easy peasy. And a lot of retailers offer free shipping on the books you buy, so you just need to make sure your profit margin stays good.

How to find books to flip

All you have to do is go to the Books section on Amazon and click on the category you want to search through. I like to go to the Textbooks section since that’s where a lot of books are being sold and traded at a higher profit margin.

Simply scroll through the book choices, and look for examples like this, where the trade-in value on the right is higher than the “More Buying Choices” price.

Make extra money through book arbitrage, aka book flipping, using textrader and amazon's trade-in program. Great side hustle!

Or this example:

Make extra money by flipping books, aka book arbitrage. Great side hustle!

As you’ve probably guessed, scrolling through Amazon looking for books to flip gets tedious. Which is why a lot of people don’t even mess with the idea of book arbitrage.

Shortcut to flipping books on Amazon

But there’s now a shortcut for finding books to flip on Amazon. It’s a Google Chrome extension called TexTrader and they just released a new version in March of 2021. It makes the process SO much faster and easier. 

I’m not a statistician, but I’d estimate that I’m finding books to potentially sell back to Amazon at least 80-90% faster than by doing it manually.

With TexTrader, all you have to do is click on the category you want it to search through, click the icon in your browser bar, and it will give you a list of every book in that category that is on Amazon’s trade-in list. It will also tell you the cheapest price you can buy the book for, and calculates the potential profit for you.

So instead of searching endlessly and doing the math yourself, TexTrader does all of the initial heavy lifting.

Here’s a video showing you how it works. And yes, this is actually me using it to find books to flip. (Recorded on July 6, 2018. If you hear donkeys or roosters or loud buses in the background, it’s simply my background noise in Mexico!)

Is book flipping too good to be true?

No, it’s a legitimate way you can make extra money. But as with any legitimate way to make money, it’s not strictly passive income. It does take a little work. After all, if it were SO easy, everyone would do it, right? So let me share some things to keep in mind.

Understand that Amazon pays you via gift card

Some people assume that Amazon pays you cash for these books, but that’s not the case. Amazon pays via gift card, which might be a downside to some.

Because I shop frequently on Amazon, so having a running gift card balance is fine for me.

If you prefer cash, there are programs where you can sell your gift cards at a reduced rate for cash. There are sites like Raise which allow you to sell gift cards at a slightly reduced rate. They pay you via PayPal. 

Just keep in mind that you’ll want to build up your balance on Amazon before doing this. Otherwise you could lose money in the Cardpool fees and PayPal fees.

You have to be willing to spend cash up front

Some of the most profitable books are a little pricey, so people don’t want to put that much cash up front. Especially when the trade-in payment comes in the form of a gift card.

But if you have some cash to start with, you can use your gift card balance to purchase other books to flip.

Make sure the book is in good condition

First, just because you can buy a book for cheaper than Amazon’s trade-in value doesn’t mean Amazon will accept it. Amazon only accepts books in good condition.

Reasons Amazon might not accept a book:

  • A book is torn
  • It has a cover that’s been taped together
  • The binding is coming apart
  • There are excessive markings or highlights

You want to be sure that the book you’re looking at purchasing is in good condition. Usually the sellers are good about accurately describing it, but if you’re unsure, err on the cautious side. You don’t want to get stuck with a book you can’t sell.

Be sure that if you are flipping books for cash, that the books are in good condition.
This is not a book you could flip!

Why flipping books is a good side hustle

I think this makes a good side hustle because if you use TexTrader to find profitable books, you can make a fairly decent side income with just a few hours of work per week.

So let’s say you work 3 hours a week, and you bring in about $300 a month. That’s $25 per hour, which isn’t too shabby.

The more time you spend, the more you can make, although I wouldn’t say there’s an infinite amount to be made. Realistically, I’d say a few hundred dollars a month is doable. Thousands? Probably not.

What do you think – does flipping books make a good side hustle? Leave a comment below!

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