When I first heard this one I dismissed it as something that couldn’t possibly make all that much money. I was wrong.
Here’s what a friend of mine (we’ll call her Beth) is doing with Amazon to currently clear several hundred dollars a day and quite possibly reach the 6 figure mark this year.
She is, in a nutshell, buying and selling books.
But Beth’s not haunting thrift stores or yard sales to do this. In fact, she never leaves home. She has two methods she uses that go hand in hand, sometimes clearing over $100 PER BOOK.
Beth’s first method takes advantage of the fact that most Amazon shoppers want to use their Prime account to get free, fast shipping. Because of this, they will often pay far more for an item than they need to.
She looks for new and used books (HINT: Textbooks work really well for this!) that have a large Prime price tag and a much smaller price if you buy it directly from the seller. For example, she showed me a textbook that is selling for $170 on Prime, and for $12 plus $3.99 shipping directly from the cheapest seller.
There were actually a couple dozen copies selling for $50 or less. She buys up all of the cheaper copies, ships them to Amazon and then sells them through Amazon Prime for much larger prices.
I know, this sounds like needles in haystacks, but she has gotten really good at finding these deals. She wouldn’t divulge her search technique, except to say that she perfected it one rainy afternoon when she had nothing else to do.
She also searches other book sites beyond Amazon, and she says that some of her very best deals come from purchasing books from other sites and then selling them on Amazon.
That’s the first half of her business. The second half is weirder still.
If you’ve ever looked closely at Amazon book listings, you’ve seen that little box on the right of some listings that say, “Do you have one to sell?” Amazon will pay you to send them books that they can then sell. But here’s what’s so weird…
There are times when you can buy used books from Amazon sellers for a lot less than Amazon is willing to PAY for the books. And when you tell Amazon you have a book to sell, they lock the price for 25 days. This gives you time to receive the book you purchased and send it on to Amazon. If the price Amazon is willing to pay goes UP in this period, you cancel the price you were going to receive and get the new, higher one.
You can buy more than one copy of a book and trade it in. You can also find cheaper books on other book sites and then sell those to Amazon. You can also find other websites that will sometimes (often?) pay more than Amazon.
Here’s another weird fact: Every book site that buys books pays you in cash except for Amazon. They pay in gift cards. That seems like a flaw in the system, right? But Beth uses these gift cards to buy more cheap books that can be resold at higher prices, making even more profit. Gift cards may also save you on taxes but you didn’t hear that from me. Consult your tax person.
Beth handles the books herself – both incoming and outgoing – by purchasing a scale and a thermal postage printing machine that makes everything simple and easy. But I understand there are also third-party process centers that will handle the books for you for a fee. This includes both receiving the books from individual sellers and packaging them up to send to the book websites of your choosing.
And there you have it: A weird little arbitrage book business that almost anyone can do. The downsides as I see it are you need money up front to get started because you’ll be purchasing books. The more money you have, the faster you can build your business.
Also, if you’re selling books to individuals, you will have to sometimes wait to make the sales. That’s fun, though, because you never know how many sales you might wake up to each morning.
If you’re interested in this, start with books you know sell for high prices such as textbooks and branch out from there. It could be a great way to make your mortgage payment each month, or possibly even build a full-time five or six figure income.