If you are a FBA seller, you may have heard that textbooks can make you serious money but then you scan some at your local thrift store and nothing is worth anything. Just a bunch of penny books being sold by MF sellers.
Well that is true and not that isn’t true. It depends on if you know how the power of FBA works during textbook season, how to forecast with Keepa charts and how to source from AZ 3rd party sellers.
Textbook Season Dates
Textbook season generally is mid to late August through mid September and about the second and third weeks of January ( also smaller season in May for the summer sessions)
This is when students go back to school and need books. Basic the start of each semester and the week or so after the semester starts.
The Power Of FBA With Textbooks
Lots and lots of book sellers ( especially the really big sellers) are only MF. They sometimes are only making money off of the shipping ( the the difference between media cost and the $3.99 shipping charge). This works great when someone isn’t in a hurry to get their books.
Not the case with college students.
College students may have a number of reasons why they need the book in 1 or 2 days. There is no way they can wait 2-3 weeks for it to show up via media mail.
Hence, FBA comes to the rescue. So a book can be normally be sold for only $4 suddenly become able to sell for $35 because it can be bought Prime and show up in 1-2 days.
This is why you can get so much more for textbooks during the short textbook seasons and creates the arbitrage opportunities.
The Number #1 Skill That You Need For Book Sourcing
If you are buying books to resell on Amazon, you need to know how to forecast the selling prices during textbook season and the way you do that is by using charts ( Keepa or CamelCamelCamel).
You have to be able to understand what the charts are telling you about what happened to the price and sales rank during prior textbook season. You have to trust these charts ( but there is no guarantee that it will always repeat. Thing do change.)
I actually have a Udemy course out on how to read and use Keepa and CCC charts.
( You can get it ½ off buy using this link: https://www.udemy.com/using-and-interpreting-charts-keepa-and-camelcamelcamel-f/?couponCode=ARBITRAGE411)
The books that scans for a good selling price are easy to source. Just buy them when you find them but for more advance sourcing, make sure you understand how to use the charts before wading into that.
Sourcing Textbooks To Sell On Amazon
There are several ways to source textbooks but finding large quantities is the issue in general.
You can find the occasional textbook while scan at a thrift store, library sale, garage sale, flea market, etc. and many of these will be high ROI if you know what to look for.
The problem is that you see the MF low price and think these are penny books and put most back on the shelf. Your are not seeing the Keepa charts that show the FBA price during textbook season ( you could look them up but that is very time consuming and hard to do in the stores on your phone)
Basically you will miss 95% of the good stuff this way just because of lack of information.
Another way to sourcing locally is directly from college students. This is something that works year round but is best at the end of each semester. The advantage is that you can use your computer to access the Keepa charts to make better buying decisions and most of your competitors are doing this.
I am not going to go into great detail about this because I actually have a Gumroad course on how to do this.
The final common way to source is to basically flip from Amazon to Amazon. ( or several other online sources like eBay, Half.com, etc)
The advantage is that you can source in quantity and have access to the charts that you need.
The problem is that this is hit or miss and there are other people doing this. There is also the timing factor. Books are constantly being listed by MF sellers on AZ and the inventory is constantly changing.
I have sourced by just looking through listing after listing and found some random deals. Sometimes I might find 1 or 2 in an hour and depending on the find, it may be a great return for the effort. Other times I want to beat my head against the wall.
Here is how it is done manually:
People have had software developed that helps speed the process up. This is good and bad.
It is good because you can quickly find deals and it is bad because other people can quickly find deals.
The secret sauce is that the fact that AZ listings are constantly changing, so that if I scan for books with the softwares I might might not find one under a title but if you scan 3 hours later, there might be some new listings on it.
Then there is the problem of cost.
If you haven’t used software, you see the price and say “ I can do it myself for free”. Then you try to search, can’t find anything and then give up on sourcing textbooks.
I get that. I think the same way too. I think that is why the 2 major softwares give free trials. Once you use them and see that you make money by using the software, then it is an easy sale.
I used the free 3 day trial from eFlip and was hooked. I helped me find books and after I saw how much I could make from these finds, I saw that it would pay for itself and more. ( way more)
Putting It All Together
I made some videos of me actually sourcing textbooks from Amazon to flip. They shows some of the Keepa chart reading that I have talked about and how the whole process works.
Warning: both of these videos are pretty long
Here is a more advanced video on sourcing
Selling textbooks should be a part of your FBA selling. There is a lot of money to be made doing it, but you have to grasp the power of FBA during textbook season to really take advantage of it.
My recommended approach is to grab the free 3 day trial of eFlip, get on AZ and find some books to flip. Learn how to read the Keepa charts and forecast. See how much you can make from them if you sell them during textbook season and if you see that there truly is potential to make money, then load up on books before textbook season hits.