Tips For Making Money Selling Online

How Tactical Arbitrage Killed OAXray And Zen Arbitrage ( And Why You Need Tactical Arbitrage To Do Online Arbitrage)

Online arbitrage has evolved at a rapid pace over the last few years. If you are trying to do OA with manual techniques that worked a few years ago, you will not see much success. Basically, you need to be using software to do the searching for you or you need to focus on other forms of sourcing.


Probably the best collective work on doing manual OA was the book, “Online Arbitrage” by Chris Green. This was groundbreaking when it came out in Fall, 2014.

Most of the techniques used involved Chrome extensions. These extensions would basically look at sites that they were affiliates of (that is how they made their money) and tell you if you could get the product cheaper (or in stock) somewhere else.

Most people probably still have these installed and do this technique to some extent (I have all mine turned off).

This worked great at first when there weren’t as many people doing OA, but the problem was that the extensions only had the incentive to show you results from sites that they could insert an affiliate link into, but as people started using cashback sites, many extensions had their affiliate link canceled and the cashback site made the commission.

This alone, with the fact that some extensions have websites (and there were some stand alone “deal” sitez) had their Amazon affiliate accounts shut down (AZ did play favorites on this), many extensions and sites had no incentive to keep handing out free information.

Software For OA

During this time, there were computer savvy FBA sellers that started developing their own software for scraping websites and using the data to find deals.

There is no way to know how many people were doing this and how many still are, but they weren’t going to tell or share what they were doing.

Then along came OAXray.

Now I do not profess to know the whole or real story behind OAXray, but I believe it was used for deal finding for a private group before it was released to the public (that is just heresay and I may be wrong).

The reason OAXray worked so well was that it wasn’t based on only searching websites that paid an affiliate commission. Their business model was to charge for the software and profit that way.

They weren’t worried about if you hit a cashback site. In fact they want to and they allow you to figure discounts within the software to help you turn unprofitable products into profitable products.

The decision that you had to make was if it cost $XX per month, will it make me more than $XX. If so, it was a good investment.

People sourcing via OAXray started eating the manual OA sourcer’s lunches. Life was good if you paid for a subscription and actually used the software. It made you money!

As a side note, around this time, a bookseller named Peter Valley came out with a software called Zen Arbitrage.

It turned the book sourcing world upside down because it was used to do AZ to AZ flips. Buying MF seller books and sending them back into AZ and selling FBA, which makes you big money.

This software had something going on for it that was better than OAXray (more about this later) that actually is OAXrays achilles tendon.

There Goes The Neighborhood

So life is great if you are the only software in town. You don’t exactly have to keep delevoping the software. You have happy customers that really don’t have much more of a choice (and you are making them money).

Then this Aussie named Alex Moss shows up. He has a software called Tactical Arbitrage that he was using for personal sourcing and it has more sites (lots more sites) that what OAXray had.

But it is sort of a screwed up software. You needed to have an Amazon affiliate account (lost mine long time ago) to get some keys to access data.

Getting and setting up an Amazon affiliate account was not as easy as paying a monthly fee and does require one to be a little computer savvy.

This pretty much kept away a lot of users. (The computer geeks jumped on this super fast).

So OAXray was still king of the hill. The software from that Aussie was too hard for common people to use, so life was still good.

Here is the problem. Alex is real good at accepting feedback and making changes. He was embraced by the computer geeks using his software. They were more than willing to help him and he had one goal: To have the best sourcing software out there.

The one day, Tactical Arbitrage no longer need you to have an Amazon affiliate.

Shit just got real!

Now I can’t say that I know when, where, or exactly if, but OAXray sort of saw the writing on the wall. They were making a lot of changes and adding a lot of features to OAXray. (side note, I have met these guys and Alex and they are all great guys)

But here is the problem and the Achilles heel of OAXray. It is a Chrome extension. This limits some of what can be done with the software as compared to Tactical Arbitrage with is server based (I don’t claim be a programmer).

Like I say, I am not a programmer. Alex may or may not have realized this when he thought up Tactical Arbitrage. But the OAXray guys already have a customer base that likes user friendly software. Changing things up may not be an option for them.

So Alex is constantly making changes to Tactical Arbitrage. It is sort of the culture there. Whereas many of the users of OAXray don’t want to keep having to learn how to use the software. (many probably don’t even use many of the newer features that the OAXray guys have come up with)

So while OAXray is a great product, they are sort of trapped by their user base and the user base is basically all fighting to use the same sourcing sites.

Now the Tactical Arbitrage user base is not afraid of new stuff and wants to keep adding more and more sites and features to the software. The results are that they are making lots of money off using the software. (that is a basic principle, the cost of using the software should be less that than the money it makes you)

Then there is the fact that OAXray needs you to sort of be present to run it.

Alex wanted you to be able to let the computer run while you were doing other things and spit out the results. Tactical Arbitrage #1 feature is the ability to use bulk lists. Instead of clicking tab after tab, you just upload CVS files to TA and let it run. Then you come back later and check out the results.

Time out

What about that Peter guy?

Well Tactical Arbitrage has a feature that allows you to basically scan books like Zen Arbitrage does.


Yeah, you get to have a software that scans similar to OAXray and also Zen Arbitrage for the same price as one of those softwares.

Now I am not a rocket scientist but that is a way better deal.

Summing It Up

In a nutshell, the fact that Tactical Arbitrage is server based allowing it to handle more complex tasks than what an extension can and the ability to upload bulk list that don’t require you to have to click webpage after webpage is why TA is the better choice over OAXray.

With Zen Arbitrage, it is simply the fact that you can do more than search just search books for the same price.

So that is basically how Tactical Arbitrage knocked off all the competition.

Using Tactical Arbitrage

So besides the fact that I am tired of typing, I think a picture is worth a 1000 words and I am going to just title a feature/technique/how to and have videos that talk about it.

Some are mine, some belong to other people.

Here is the deal. People are lazy. You probably won’t watch these videos.

They teach you how to make money, but who will spend 10 minutes watching these?

Well the people that are successful at FBA will. Which are you?

First here is a list of sites TA covers

Ok, let’s get TA set up.

No video here but a PDF on how to do it

Here is the dashboard and TA looks on the inside

Here is a basic search Part 1.

Part 2

So now I will show you some of the ways I use TA.

Ok, I like to sell books and here is how you do book scans. (who need Zen Arbitrage anyway?)

But you can source other places for books.

I know, books bore you. Well I like video games too.

You don’t have a video game list? Well here is how to make some mad money doing the onesy, twosey video game flips from eBay.

Oh, you thought that TA was just for OA. No, you can do RA with it. (now you are seeing what the full time FBAers are doing)

So you found some products on clearance or the source has dried up? Yeah TA has a way to find more.

Ok, here is one that I haven’t figured out yet, (or got the settings right) but it has so much potential that it is crazy.

There is a whole lot more you can do with TA but I have probably lost 99% of the people by now. If you are still here, you can get a free trial of Tactical Arbitrage here.

Click here for a free trial

Tell them Jason sent you.

Using Bitcoin To Get Big Sourcing Discounts On AZ To AZ Flips

Bitcoin and Amazon??

I will admit that this isn’t going to be your normal blog post or even on the radar of 99% the people.

That is ok because we all know that FBA is crowded and the competition is fierce. It is good to be on the fringe of techniques that others don’t know or understand.

Let get on the same page before we get started.


Heard of it? Maybe?

Well it is a real thing.

Lots of people use Bitcoin even if you don’t know it or don’t trust it.


Besides where us FBA people sale our wares, it is one of the biggest retailer/source of products. ( ie, AZ to AZ flips)

Ok you are saying but where are you going with this?

Well I am glad you asked.

Using Bitcoin

Why Use Bitcoin For Sourcing From Amazon?

The simplest answer is the you can buy products on Amazon cheaper with Bitcoin, but there is more to it.

There are people that want Bitcoin and those people have Amazon gift cards that they will sort of exchange for Bitcoin. ( actually they purchase products from Amazon and exchange those for Bitcoin)

It is possible to get a 15%-20% discount off of Amazon products by doing this.

For those that buy discounted gift card, you know that you can never get Amazon gift cards at that kind of discount.

Some of you just called BS on that.

You are saying that there is no way that people are taking 20% less just to exchange Amazon gift cards for Bitcoin.

Well it is true but I don’t claim to know the reasons why.

First, many people want to not leave a paper trail on acquiring Bitcoin for different reasons.

Second, when converting gift cards into cash, you lose a percentage of the value because their are other people taking a cut.

Third, many people don’t have any money invested into the Amazon gift cards ( ie a gift or * other)

Actually this is a good example of the Textbook Arbitrage extension. When you trade in textbooks, you receive Amazon gift cards. You might not want these and want to convert them to Bitcoin to be spent somewhere else ( Maybe you want to pay a Fiverr guy to make you some tee shirt designs. Fiverr takes Bitcoin )

How To Exchange Bitcoin For Discounted Amazon Products

There is actually a website set up to exchange Bitcoin for Amazon products. It is called Purse.

Here is a short video explaining it.

In the simplest terms, you set up a wishlist of products you want to buy ( source) from Amazon and you get to set the discount percentage you want to receive ( no guarantee that you will get it but the average is 20% off)

Then you submit this wish list to Purse and pay with Bitcoin. Then people buy the products and have Amazon ship them to you.

Purse acts as a middleman to make sure it all goes good.

Here is a much more detailed video on how it works

Basically this is almost like buying discounted gift cards that many people already do for RA and OA.

Not trying to suggest people bend rules but here is a hack

This is an easy way to get around Amazon buying limits. For example, say Amazon comes back in stock with the Speak Out game and set a maximum of 2 games per person limit on them. Well you are not buying these, other people are, so you could get 20 people to buy these via Purse and get 40 units of these.

Setting Bitcoin And Purse Up

Here is a great video on how to set up Coinbase

Click here to learn more and sign up for Coinbase.

Click here to learn more about Purse.

Getting Bitcoin Without Buying Bitcoins

As shown in the video for Coinbase, you can exchange your dollars for Bitcoins ( there are small fees involved) but there are other ways to get Bitcoins.

I used the example earlier of the textbook arbitrage but that gets you Amazon gift cards which you them have to exchange for Bitcoins and you will lose a little along the way due to other taking discounts, fees, etc

There are more ways to Bitcoin than trading gift cards. You can sell stuff to get Bitcoins.

On the Purse site, there is an option to sell products and get paid in Bitcoin. ( Think of Amazon returns or restricted products)


There is also another popular site called OpenBazaar where you can sell products without any fees and get paid in Bitcoins. I will admit that this option is for people with advanced computer skills to get it set up.

This would be the perfect place to sell all your AZ returns and restricted items.

You can also accept Bitcoin in your Esty store.

Once again you could sell similar items that you would on eBay on Esty and get paid in Bitcoin.

The big point here is that people can’t spend Bitcoins everywhere that they want to shop so their choices are limited to exchange digital money into physical products, which becomes your selling niche. This means that you have very little competition and can control your prices.

The Secret Sauce Of Bitcoin

First before I go any farther, if you don’t understand Bitcoin and want to know everything possible about it ( like a did) here is the book I read on it

This is a long read and has way more info that you really need.

Bitcoin has a limit of 21 million coins which will all be in the marketplace by 2040. So Bitcoin has a limited supply and it is traded just like other currencies.

What this means is that the value of it changes constantly. In general it is going up, which mean if you sell your Amazon return for $50 worth of Bitcoin, it might have $55 worth of buying power 2 weeks later. ( this is why some people will trade their AZ gift cards for 20% less)

While I personally wouldn’t put my nest egg into Bitcoin, there are good reason to have some money in it and your buying power might increase ( it could go down too) .


Bitcoin is going to be scary to most people but it is actually very safe. These is really not different than buying discounted gift cards and it is just basically AZ to AZ flips. I can almost guarantee your competition is not doing this and most won’t even after reading this.


Options For Dealing With Amazon FBA Box Level Inventory

Box level inventory. Yeah that just left a bad taste in my mouth.

Box level is here and it isn’t going to go away.

We have a few choices.

We can just quit ( that doesn’t pay too well)

We can pay an additional $.15 an item for Amazon to deal with it ( but the cost isn’t the biggest issue with that answer)

We can provide the box level inventory information Amazon requires. ( seems like the most obvious)

Who Is Affected?

Well technically everyone is affected, but honestly in is the smaller RA/OA sellers like me.

People that send in 100’s of different skus at a time.

The bigger sellers doing wholesale and private label really won’t see much from this. They are sending in cases of the same sku and they basically know the box level of that, ie it is all the same product and the same expiration date.

So if you have to send to 3 or 4 warehouses like I do, you are probably feeling the pain too. Not only do you have to sort out your shipment, you now have to tell what went into what box if you send more than one box to a warehouse ( or you aren’t allowed to have 2 or more expiration dates for the same product in the same box)

What Is Box Level Content?

To be upfront, no matter which option you choose, it is more work. You have to know what went in each box ( unless you send everything in one box, which is automatically box level)

Which is best? Well it depends.

Here is a great video showing the basics of what Amazon wants

Options For Dealing With Box Level Inventory

There are paid services.

The 2 biggest are BoxT ( part of Scanpower) and Inventory Labs ( they provide it as part of their basic service)

I have not seen or used BoxT so I can’t say if it works good or not. It currently cost $24 a month.

Inventory Lab

Well first you should be using them for general FBA for the other features they offer but when it comes to the box level, well that is a work in progress.

They did get an option up but it seems that they will be working on it based on feedback from the users.

The big plus on this option is that it is part of the regular package price, so as they work out the bugs, it might be the best choice.

Private Workflow: Entering Box Content Information from InventoryLab on Vimeo.

Here is a work around that you can use if you use the “live” feature to enter in shipments via Inventory Labs.

Basically you start a shipment, start filling up boxes bases on what warehouse they are going to and when a box fills up, you complete that shipment. So in effect, you are shipping one box at a time and don’t have to enter any box level.

Here is a great article on this

Why I Use Live Shipments In Inventory Lab and How they Save me Time

Stop here for a second and look.

If your shipments small and get split up but the split makes the shipment to each warehouse only 1 box, then you don’t have to input box level shipment.

This is a technique that some use a lot. Instead of entering in 1000 skus and making one big shipment, they just enter say 50 skus, stop and make a shipment and then move to the next 100 skus.

This works and doesn’t work. It depends on how Amazon splits up the shipments. This could cost my more in shipping if you get partial boxes going into each warehouse.

Manually Entering In Seller Central

As shown in the great video above, there are a few options on how to enter this into Amazon.

The problem is that you have to have a system to count what went into what box.

( First big hint is to number each box no matter what system you are using. You need to know which is box #1, #2, etc and get the right label on the the right box)

Some people are literally taking a pen and paper and writing down each item they are putting in a box.

OMG, that would take forever on a big shipment. ( this is the issue with box level, it is a time suck for us which takes away the time suck for Amazon)

I took this into my own hands and came up with a system that uses my bar code scanner and Excel ( or Google Drive Sheets or OpenOffice) to basically count the units as I put them into the boxes.

I made this available on Gumroad.

I include the training videos and the Excel sheet that I created as part of the package. ( If you are good with Excel, you can make your own for free)

The last option is to not do box level and have Amazon charge you $.15 an unit. While this might seem like an easy out, it is the worse option.

Not only does Amazon charge you, they basically set your stuff aside and it could takes weeks before they check it in.

The prices of your skus could tank during this time and it could end up costing you way more than the $.15 per item.


Nobody wants to invest more time in prepping and shipping and box level is going to add time. You need to figure out which systems work for you and implement it.

Profiting From Textbook Season On Amazon By Selling FBA

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.

Profiting From Textbook

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:

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,, 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.

Why You Suck At Merch And How To Finally Start Selling Some Shirts On Merch

Recently I was in a large Mech By Amazon Facebook group and saw a post that the person was complaining about the fact that they had 18 shirts up and had made 1 sale in like 4 weeks. Then they mentioned running ads, keywords, etc and nothing was working.

Why You Suck At Merch

I  made a reply to the post that people just don’t get this Merch thing and with this post, I want to explain why I think people are failing at Merch.

I am going to make an assumption that a large number of people doing Merch By Amazon are also FBA sellers. I am sure some aren’t, but if they aren’t , they will understand this even less.

The basic reason people fail is that they don’t understand how the Amazon algorithm works.

I know, you are yelling BS right now. Your saying ”I put in keywords on my listings” . ( So quit your damn keyword stuffing. It doesn’t work) That isn’t all the algorithm cares about.

Yeah you suck. You still don’t get it, so sit down, shut up and learn some shit!

What Amazon Algorithm Was Designed To Do

Amazons algorithm was not designed to be gamed by you. Putting 500 keywords into a listing thinking that more is better and the algorithm will rank your shirt high is just plain stupid.

That algorithm is written by a bunch of smarter people than you or me and they know what you are up to.

Amazon’s algorithm is made to sell products. That is the only goal Amazon has for it.

Type into AZ search the phrase “ funny t shirt” .

funny t shirt

Amazon only returns 60 of over 2 million items.

These are the 60 items that Amazon’s algorithm thinks you will most likely BUY when you are looking for a “funny t shirt”.

It is not the listings with the search term “funny t shirt” stuffed in 40 times.

So the simple fact is that Amazon wants to show you items that you most likely will buy for each search you do.

This is the MOST important part.

How Amazon’s Algorithm Learns

When you put keywords into your listings, it tells the algorithm what your listing is about at first but then it learns if the terms are right.


Yeah, the true measure of if your search words are right is ( drum roll)


If you say your shirt is about say “owls” and when someone searches for a shirt about “owls” and Amazon displays your shirt and they don’t buy it, that tells the algorithm that your listing isn’t about “owls” or that it sucks. Either way, the algorithm doesn’t want to waste a spot in search results by showing your shitty listing that doesn’t sell.

As a side note, the algorithm gets more clues from things like reviews but that normally happens after conversions.

So when you first put up a t shirt and have it loaded with your keywords, the algorithm is going to sort of take your word for it. It will display your shirt sometimes as a search result for those keywords but if it doesn’t start to sell, it discounts those keywords as being valid.

Basically you get a chance to prove yourself and if you don’t, well you are pushed to the search results abyss.

So the goal for any shirts that you put up is to make fast sales.

Merch Is Just Like Private Label

The whole thing is to handle Merch like Private Label ( or any listing you make for Amazon FBA).

When private label sellers bring a product to market, they have to do stuff to get their products to rank in Amazon search and make it sell well.

The normal process is (was) to give away ( or discount) a bunch of the product at launch to get sales, reviews and to move up in ranking.

Well that same holds true for Merch shirts.

Remember me mentioning conversions? ( sales ) Well in private label, people give stuff away or sell cheaply to get the conversions.

Well we can’t exactly do that with Merch, but we can sell our shirts cheaply to make sales ( conversions) .

Time out for my rant

Everyone that knows me, knows how much I despise “fast turn” FBA sellers. I believe people are suckered into the math of compounding returns that some gurus teach. It normally goes something like this, “ If you return 10% every 2 weeks, that turns into a massive return after a year”.

Yes on paper it is amazing, except that it results in a crap load of work trying to spend that much money every 2 weeks.

Basically it is taught by people that don’t understand margin and basic business.

Ever walk into a Walmart that sells out everything on their shelves every 2 weeks?

No, never and that is not how you should run a business. The only thing you do is destroy the margins for everyone else before you burn out and quit selling on Amazon FBA.

Rant over

With that said, I have found that the same low ball, fast turn sellers on FBA have a totally opposite strategy when it come to Merch.

They believe that their shirt designs should sell for a premium. They think that every one of their designs are worth $20, $25, $30 each.

They are willing to make 10-20% return on a product that they buy from Walmart but there is no freaken way that they would sell their shirts for say $14.99. ( $3.47 royalty )

They are willing to make $1 on a $10 investment on a product that they bought from Walmart but $3.50 from a digital file is sacrilegious. Go figure.

With that said, I am going to suggest you become the low ball seller on Mech that I hate on FBA.

Besides making a good design and basic keywords, the only other thing that we can control is the price we ask for our shirts.

Why would we want to do this?


Most people are more likely to buy a cheap shirt than an expensive one ( yeah I know that isn’t always the case) .

So let’s go back the owl shirt.

You have just designed a cool looking owl shirt. You put some good ( relevant) keywords into useful, human readable title, bullet points and description. ( ie keywork stuffing on these doesn’t make people want to buy anything)

keyword stuff

So you have told the algorithm what the listing is about so it gives you a chance to show your stuff.

Someone searches for an owl t shirt and yours gets displayed in the search results.

This is your chance to show the algorithm that you really should be displayed for the search term “owl”.

Now there is the problem. Your shirt has no reviews and is priced at $24.99 ( remember you think it is freaken the most awesome thing to ever be listed on Amazon) and is shown next to a shirts that have reviews ( social proof) and priced at $19.99.

What are the chances that you convert?


Now the algorithm begins to think that the keywords in your listing are wrong. The buyer bought another “owl” shirt. There is a strike against your listing.

This keeps happening the next several times that someone search for owl shirts.

Now the algorithm says enough is enough, the listing isn’t really about owls and it isn’t going to show it to buyers anymore when they are looking for owl shirts.

Now let’s say you priced your shirt at $11.99 and it showed up in the search results for owl shirts.

Many people shop on price and some of them will buy the $11.99 shirt. ( Oh, no. There is no way in Hell that I am giving away the shirt that isn’t selling for almost nothing…..)

When you sell your owl shirt for $11.99 you don’t make crap on it (like $.88, but hey you are in fast turner range of return) but and the BIG BUT is, that you made a conversion. You just told the algorithm that your shirt is what people want to buy when they search for an owl shirt ( see this is exactly the same thing of what private label sellers are doing)
Your shirt will start to show up in search results more which will result in more and more sales.

So you would keep your price at this point until you make several sales on your shirt and then start to raise the price ( people do the same thing with private label. There is a launch price and a full retail price that they move to).

This is really no different than how you would launch any other product but for some reason people are afraid that every person that would ever buy their shirt will snag it for $11.99 and the will never have another person want to buy it.

Basically if 10 people buy your shirt for $11.99 and that is the end of it and there is no more demand for your shirt after that, then you have a dud of a shirt design anyway.

So what if 10 or 20 people get a great deal on your masterpiece of a shirt design.

Sell some cheap to teach the algorithm that you are the real deal and you will benefit down the road.


If you are someone that is totally sucking at Merch and you aren’t making sales, you have nothing to lose by following my advice. Log into your Merch account and reprice all you nonsellers to $11.99 and let them sit for awhile. Some are still going to suck but some will start to sell and after you have taught the algorithm, you can start to raise your prices up to increase your profits.

Or you can just keep sucking at Merch.

Why You Are Failing At Amazon FBA

There are a lot of people that start FBA and either quit or never really get any traction. They would tell you that FBA is all hype, no real money to be made in it but it is not true. They failed and I want to take a look at why.

Size Matters

The first reason that your WHY isn’t big enough.

I would love to say I thought of this on my own but honestly I learned it for this presentation that I saw live ( check out the video below, it is well worth your time to watch it)

So what does it mean when we say our WHY isn’t big enough?

Basically the reason why you are doing the business. Your motivation is not big enough.

For example say you are doing Amazon to get money for buying your kid some high priced pair of fashionable jeans even though they have plenty of good pairs.

How motivated are you to do the extra work to make the money?

Probably not super motivated.

Now say you are doing Amazon to buy medicine for your kid that keeps them from having seizures?

How motivated are you to make the money?

Really freaken motivated!

The example given in the video is that you are asked why you are doing FBA and you say to make a million dollars.

Not specific, not going to happen. Not a good enough WHY.

I personally am guilty of this.

I do FBA full time but honestly haven’t tried very hard and pushed it to the next level.


Well lots of reasons.

Mostly because I didn’t really have to.

Here is a some signs and signals that your WHY isn’t big enough
Signs and signals that your ‘why’ isn’t big enough:

* procrastination

* self-judgment

* embarrassment

* self-doubt

* indecisiveness

* confusion

* fear of making a mistake

* fear of failure

* apathy

* all talk but no action

* inconsistent action

( From

How many of these apply to you ?

Most apply to me.

The honest truth is that we are our own worst enemies. The struggle in not doing the business, the struggle is overcoming our minds.

So what the video above and see if any of the above signs point to you. If they do, then you need to figure out your WHY and if you find that you don’t have a WHY, then maybe you shouldn’t be doing FBA right now.

Comfort Zones

We don’t want to get out of our comfort zones, but everything we say we want is outside of our comfort zones.

I suffer from this too. Private label is out of my comfort zone and everything that I want from my business is setting on the outside of my comfort zone, right next to Private label.

How to get out of your comfort zone is not my area of expertise but I have several conversations at the conference with other sellers about private label and how they got the guts to do it.

Most basically said that they just did it. They took the chance.

One guy said that he mentally considered the money he was investing as a loss already. (he was sending $500 for a product)

He said that made it so much easier. He said that after considering it a loss, he was happy when he got a return. Made him feel really good, which cause him to get out of his comfort zone easier and more often.

You need to figure out how to get out of your comfort zone. The hint is when you feel scared, you are at the edge of your comfort zone. At that point, it is time to just take a leap of faith.

Connecting With Other Sellers

Are you scared to make friends with other FBA sellers? Scared that they are going to steal all your products ideas and put you out of business?

Almost every successful FBA seller with tell you that making connections is one of the things that really causes their business to grow.

On the other hand, most unsuccessful sellers are lone wolfs. They think every seller is out to get them and they keep to themselves.

Which are you?

If you haven’t made connections, now is the time to start.

Like I have said earlier, I am recently back from an Amazon resellers conference.

Meet a ton of other resellers and have so many great conversations and learned so much about reselling and what other people are doing.

And not once did I worry about someone stealing my ideas and people told me what they were selling and I didn’t try to steal their ideas.

Seeing what they were doing gave me new ideas of my own.

So if you are hiding away from other resellers, open yourself up to connecting and you will be surprised how much that will help your business.


People fail to take the time to learn how to do this business right. They do one of 3 things usually.

They try to wing it

They get the wrong training ( or worse pay for some way over priced training and get totally ripped off)

They get the right training product and don’t take the time to got through the training.

When it comes to training, I have been recommending the same training for a long time and the priced is stupid cheap ( I think that people may think it isn’t good since it doesn’t cost $1000.

You should read Chris Green’s Aribrage from front to back before doing anything with FBA ( cost about $9 new, $5 used)

After doing a little retail arbitrage that you learned how to do via Green’s Arbitrage book, the next step is to go through Green’s Online Arbitrage book.

Now this book is more expensive. ($70 for the used black and white version and up to $170 for the new color version)

I wouldn’t buy the book.

I would either sign up for Kindle unlimited and read it for free or go to Udemy and take the course for $30 (it is the same as the book)

Actually, I would go to Gumroad and get a special deal he has that has 3 his courses, the 2 arbitrage books and his course on Merch By Amazon, all for $49

Why You Are Failing At Amazon FBA

So you can get all the training materials for $50 but you have to actually sit down and go through the material.

Most people won’t do this. This is why people fail. This is why accounts get suspended.

Did you take the time to learn how to do FBA? Did you try to piece together the training by finding different sources online?

If so, that could be a reason you are failing.

One other training I just started recommending ( because it just came out out) is Stephen Smotherman’s How To Keepa Camel.

This training helps you understand how to read charts better and make better buying decisions. I would say that you need to have gone through Green’s training fully first before taking this training ( it is a lot more costly)

I did a review of the training in a blog post

While it is no fun taking the time out to learn how to do something, it is very important to learn what you need to know before investing a bunch of money in inventory. So many people do this backward and lose a ton of money learning the hard way.

Wrong Business Model

This is where I step on toes but the truth is that the barrier to entry is almost non existent for FBA and some people aren’t business people.

There are a few business models that while they work for some people, they honestly don’t work for the majority.

This biggest example is the Fast Turn model.

This appeals to people because it is presented in compounding math.

10% return every 2 weeks for a year is a shitload of a return ( on paper)

It does work for some but the issue is scaling.

This is a business model that is great if you are broker than shit and don’t have much money to invest.

You can quickly build up your nest egg by turning it over every 2 weeks.

That works great until your nest egg grows so big that you you have problems spending all of it every 2 weeks and/or the processing of that much inventory.

Basically you get overwhelmed and the business model breaks down or you start hiring employees and getting a warehouse, etc.

Now you have overhead.

Still there are people that make this work, but it gets harder. The 10% return doesn’t work so good when you have overhead and payroll to meet.

Margin is very important to a business.

Almost all the successful FBA sellers I know protect their margins as best that they can ( ie they want to make as much as possible off every single product that they sell)

So while you may have started out as a Fast Turner, maybe it is time to adjust your business model. You have to remember that you aren’t Walmart trying to sell on paper thin margins. They have large systems in place to make it work and just like the retail world, there are very few other retail businesses that can survive doing what Walmart does.

So take a look at your business model. If you are working your ass off and it seems like you are barely making any money, you might have the wrong business model.


FBA works and if it isn’t working for you, you need to figure out why. Hopefully one of the points in the article sticks out to you and you can adjust and make this business work for you. The hard part is that you have to accept responsibility for your failure and then fix it. Harder said than done for most people.

Organic Marketing For Merch By Amazon T Shirts

“Welcome to Merch By Amazon!”

Now what?

How do I get sales?

Facebook ads? Pinterest? Instagram?

Everyone is scrambling to figure it out.

Here is what I know about Facebook ads for Merch:

0 , zero, zip, nada

Going Old School

I want to present a totally different idea for marketing Merch tee shirts that I haven’t heard anyone talking about that I have seen happen with my own t shirt designs.

I can’t prove that this works but I think if you follow my thought process you might buy into how this can work.

Niches Baby, It Is All About Niches

Everyone wants to jump into the big niches that have hundreds of the same design or saying. You have seen it, 3 pages of the exact same shirts.

Or people trying to jump onto the current events. Really? How long does current stay current?

So what should you focus on?

Small, unreached niches.

Unreached niches?

Think about it, How many knitting fan t shirts are there? ( ok there are a lot of them on AZ so not a great example, but have you tried to find on at Walmart or your local mall?)

In general, odd hobbies or interests are not going to be found locally.

So say your mom is a big time knitter and you want to get her a shirt for her birthday. You are going to have to go to Amazon to buy one because the sales numbers for those shirts are too low for other retailers ( other than other print on demand t shirt companies) to manufacture them.
So now let’s move on to an example of how I see this working.

Case Example

So first I want to choose a niche that I believe this will work in a little different way.

I chose the niche dental hygienist.

When was the last time you saw a dental hygienist t shirt in the store?

Probably never.

But……there are a lot of dental hygienists out there.

I did a quick search to see how many searches does Amazon have a month for dental hygienist t shirt


Wow, less than 100 a month.

Most people are moving on right now. ( not me, I wouldn’t mind selling 100 t shirts a month but 100 search would lead to less than 100 sales)

So let’s look at another search


Dental hygienist gift

211,000 searches a month

That is really good and I shouldn’t have used it because it won’t prove my point but you have a great keyword right there.

So let’s just forget about about that but hint, hint, the word “gift” seems to be something we should be adding to any niche search terms.

Ok, let’s get straight on this.

We know there are a crap load of dental hygienist out there. We also know that you can’t buy a t shirt for one at just about any other place except Amazon. And finally, we know that less than 100 searches are done looking just for “ dental hygienist t shirt” ( that last one sounds so unpromising )

Organic Marketing For Merch By Amazon T Shirts

Why would I want to make a dental hygienist t shirt and why do I think I can sell any of them?


Currently the sales rank of this shirt is #385,476, which if you look at FBA Toolkit, that says that it is selling about 1 shirt every 4 day, so 7 or 8 a month.

Not killing it but remember that the term “dental hygienist “ is only being searched less than 100 times a month and there are a few other designs to chose from on Amazon.

Now here comes the secret sauce ( hold on tight)

Now say someone order one of these dental hygienist t shirts and say it is really a cool shirt. Now they wear it to work in the dental office and their co workers think it is a cool shirt too.

What is going to happen?

They are going to say, “ That is a cool shirt. Where did you find it? “ and they answer “ On Amazon”

Amazon is easy to remember and easy to access. It wasn’t like they said, “I found it at a flea market in Alaska”

So now you have a walking billboard to your t shirt.

Nobody sells dental hygienist t shirts locally and there is this person where it around the office.

There is a good chance that their co workers might order some of the shirts too.

Now imagine that every month the same thing happens. 7 or 8 t shirt get ordered and then you have the walking billboard showing it off around the office.

Next then you know 7 turns into 15, then into 25.

Notice I haven’t said anything about paid promotions?

I think the term is “ organic sales

Here is the thing. Merch hasn’t been around very long. People haven’t taken notice of the whole organic sales thing yet. Too busy trying to make a current event, hashtag shirt. Too busy trying to copy the best selling shirts.

Now fast forward to Q4.

You are the dentist. You are having an office Christmas party. You need to buy a gift for everyone in the group.

Hey there is that cool shirt that Suzy Q has been wear once a week all year on casual Friday.

A quick Amazon shirt shows the shirt and you can visually recognize the shirt ( no need for the perfect keywords because you know the shirt you are looking for)

You place an order for 12 shirts and go about your day.

Organic sales and nobody has been thinking of this.


Just think about every different job or hobby that isn’t represented. That is a shit load of niches. Make the cool shirt and then sit back and let the magic happen over time ( remember that once the shirt is up, it is there forever to make you money)

Cell Phone Hacks For Retail Arbitrage

Finding Products That Don’t Scan

Many times other sellers list products under a different UPC code to throw other sellers off. You pick up a product to scan and it doesn’t show up as being in the Amazon catalog but actually it is.

The first way to try to find it that most people do is typing in the name of the product.

Total pain in the butt to do.

The biggest tip is to type as little as possible. If you type too much, it might be too specific and not show up in the search. Start with the brand name. People also change the title of products and if you put in a big long title, it might not give you a search result.

There are better ways to do this.

The Amazon seller app ( along with Google and the Amazon buyer app) has a dictation feature.

Look for the microphone

Cell Phone Hacks For Retail Arbitrage

Just push the microphone button and speak the product name into the phone.

This is a hit or miss thing. Some words just don’t pick up right, but it can be a time saver.

So here is the ultimate trick.

Amazon uses a image recognition function on the Amazon buyer app ( not your AZ seller app). There is also a stand alone version of this called Flow,

On the Amazon buyers app, it looks is the camera icon


And here is the stand alone Flow app


You just start Flow up and aim the camera at the product. It has these crazy little light things that run around the picture and tries to figure out what the item is and then pulls it up in the Amazon catalog.

The catch is the it bring it up in the Amazon buyer app and you need to grab the ASIN from the Features & details section

This works really good. It actually works better than typing or dictation methods.

This is also a trick to use when you can’t hold a product ( like video games that are in the glass cases)

Bonus Tip : Using the Flow app for sourcing online

AZ Buyers List

If you are using product sourcing lists, you can use the Amazon sellers app for having a visual shopping list

Using The eBay App

The eBay app has a bar code scanner built in.

When you hit the search on the app, the scanner icon comes up.


Many times you find a good deal on a product that isn’t selling on Amazon ( or restricted) and this is great for checking if a product is selling on eBay. I also use the scanner to scan the bar code and create my eBay listings on my phone. I then go back and edit the listing on my computer.

Keeping A Charged Cell Battery While Doing Retail Arbitrage

One of the simplest way to charge your dying cell phone battery is to use a rechargeable power block.


Just pull your phone into it and charge your phone right in the store.

When you are in your car, if you put the phone on Airplane Mode while charging it, it will charge at least twice as fast.
If you turn the phone completely off, it will charge 3-4 times as fast

There are a brand of cell phone cases called Incipico that have a build in battery. It basically doubles the life of your battery. When your phone gets low, you press a button on the case and it recharges your phone.

Reading Bar Codes

The Amazon seller app camera seems to have a hard time focusing compared to Scoutify.

One trick is that if you touch the screen on the AZ seller app, it causes the camera to focus faster.

Bonus Tip If you are at Walmart and trying to use the price checker and it doesn’t seem to want to read, touch the bar code image on the screen, it make it read the bar code

The Scanning App Running Really Slow Or Not Working

Sometimes you are scanning in a store really good and then the scanning app just seems to stop to running or is super slow.

I have found that if I get near the Walmart photo area ( or electronics dept) that my phone hooks up to the Wifi and the wifi sucks.

I have also had this happen at Meijers.

So check to see if your phone has hooked up to Wifi and turn it off to make the scanning app start working again.

Now if there is no cell signal at all, then look for a wifi source to hook up to. You might be able to sweet talk an employee for the password or my son has had luck with using xfinity when there is no cell signal.

In low signal areas, it seems like Scoutify will work when the AZ seller app won’t.

Checking CamelCamelCamel And Keep Charts

You should be check CCC and Keepa charts before buying but if you are using the AZ seller app, it is a pain in the butt because there is no built in function for this unlike Scoutify, Profit Bandit or ScanPower.

Here is a video that shows how to easily check the charts if you are using the AZ seller app

Listing Product Merchant Fulfilled In Store

If you are an MF seller or you MF during Q4 for hot products, the Amazon seller app allows you to list a product through it right there in the store.

You can literally list a hot product and have it sold before you even check out.

Up To Date Data

Amazon doesn’t give other scanning apps access to the current pricing data. They have to basically have data bases that they access that may be hours or days old.

The Amazon seller app uses the current prices, so if you scan on Scoutify and then scan the same product on the AZ seller app, you will many times see a different buy box price.

Bluetooth Scanners

Using a bluetooth scanner will really speed things up and it saves your cell phone battery.

They are also pricey, but I use a generic one called the TC30.

You can find PL versions on Amazon for about $80-$85

I got mine off of eBay for about $70. I looked for the ones that are shipped from the USA.

Mine works great but the Amazon seller app doesn’t work good with it because you have to touch the search box each time before scanning. ( that is faster than the camera works but not really easy to do constantly in store)

It works great with Scoutify. I can just whip through items in the store with it.
The instructions that come with the TC30 suck but it isn’t hard to set up.

Bonus tip  The scanner by default beeps every time you scan but if you use the code below, you can turn the beeper off.


Stephen Smotherman’s How To Keepa Camel Book & Video Course Review

Move Over Chris Green

I was a beta tester for Stephen Smotherman’s new ebook/video course on CamelCamelCamel and Keepa Charts.

I am going to be blunt. This is the most important training I have seen come out since Chris Green’s Online Arbitrage.

How To Keepa Camel

It Was Like Crack

I choose to watch the videos instead of reading the ebook. Video fits my learning style the best and I just think you pick up way more by video than reading especially since you are looking at CCC and Keepa charts.

There are 34 videos for a total 3 ½ hours of video. ( I didn’t watch the last one because it was just an advertisement for his other products)

I basically watched them one after another. I watched about 20 before bed one night and got up to watch the rest the next morning.


Well I was learning so much.

I value my time and if it was just the same things I already knew, I would have turned it off.

I am not exactly a rookie, so I was actually surprised at what I was learning. Some of it was stuff I just hadn’t taken the time to think through and other things were concepts that I just didn’t know.       (Yeah I am man enough to admit that I don’t know it all.)

Stephen has been selling way longer than me. I am sure he has forgotten more than I know.

I am good with that.

(BTW, I am actually jealous. I wish I had thought of making this training, but since I didn’t know a lot of it, I couldn’t have)

It Is All In The Charts

So you think you know how to read CCC or Keepa charts?

Think again.

I thought I knew how to read them too.

So let’s talk about something besides Amazon.

Ever try stock trading?’

I have.

I sucked at it.

But…I am pretty anal about stuff. When I am interested in something, I AM INTERESTED IN SOMETHING. I read everything I can about it.

One of the things I learned was that people chart prices and they make buying decisions based on the charts. The charts showed a lot more than what the untrained eye would see.

One of the coolest was Candlestick charting. People can tell you exactly what happened, what people are going to do next and how they make all their decisions from what they see on the charts.

I knew about the charts and knew how to read them but I still thought that my decisions (ok freaking guesses) would do better.

Boy was I wrong. ( I don’t trade stock anymore)

If I had to do it over again, I would stick to using the charts. They worked but it took work to read them. It took time to read them and after making a bad buy, it is not the best time to do the research.

Fast forward to now and me selling on Amazon.

I am pretty good at sourcing but honestly, I have had times where some things have bit me in the ass.

I thought it was a great buy at the store and by the time I went to list it, I was like, WTF was I thinking?

Why does this happen?

Well I honestly never look at the charts when I am in the stores sourcing.

I have looked at them when I use to do a lot of OA (I don’t really do that anymore) but now I realize that when I was looking at the charts, I really wasn’t getting all the info I needed.

Check the course now

My Buying Mistake

I will admit that I almost never look at the charts while out sourcing and here is an example of a very recent mistake I made.

I bought a LOT of these while sourcing at a flea market for $2.50 each.

I went to list them (about a month later after taking this training) and they are selling for $4.97. WTF?


I hadn’t went through the training yet when I bought these but I was listing them post going through the training, so I pulled up the charts on my laptop.

If you look at the chart, I literally scanned and bought these when Amazon had just ran out of stock.


If you look at the chart more, you see that Amazon has only ran out of stock once in the last year (at the exact time I bought them ) and they are back in stock.

Stephen Smotherman's How To Keepa Camel Book & Video Course Review

Basically it was terrible timing for me and if I had taken an extra minute to pull up the Keepa chart, I would have known not to buy them.

Anyone need shampoo?

What To Expect From This Training

If I had to sum it up, he teaches you what a full time, seasoned reseller knows. He teaches you how to think and make better sourcing decisions.

Stephen does show the basics but actually spends very little time on that. You don’t really need to spend a ton of time learning how to install Keepa or CCC extensions.

He mostly shows you charts of products. He goes through the charts and explains what is going on and shows you how you would make the decision to buy or not buy.

What Stood Out

Obviously I can just telling you everything that is in the training. Stephen worked hard to put it all together and should be compensated for all the time he put into it and the value he is bringing.

With that said, I will share a few things that really stood out to me.

Stephen actually did research on products and sales rank before CCC and Keepa were a thing.

He recorded the sales rank of products on a daily basis. He did this manually everyday.

From this, he was able to learn how the sales ranks changes due to sales.

You can do this yourself. While it would be a pain in the butt, I think you could learn a ton from this.

Look for a toy on Amazon and start recording the sales rank each day. Just make an Excel sheet like he did.

Now you have an advantage over him. You can actually compare Excel sheet to the CCC or Keepa chart. This should really help get the concept into you head, but it will require some effort.

Average Sales rank

When the sales rank is bouncing around all over the place, how do you decide if it is a buy or not?

Stephen shows how to come up with an average sales rank and how to use a sales rank chart to make your buying decisions.

What? What is this magic he is teaching?

Basically this technique can help you make a better buying decision when you might have just been confused. You may have scanned when the sales rank was great and cleared a shelf off when you shouldn’t have or you may have scanned when the sales rank was terrible and passed on buying. Both would be bad. But after you learn how to do this technique, you could make a better decision.

Learning To Project Sales ( Seasonal) Based On The Charts

When you are preparing to sell in say Q4 or a certain season, you need to know what kind of sales you can expect to decide how much product you should buy. This also holds true if you are buying clearance out of season.

When products are out of season, the sales ranks are going to be bad and the prices are going to be bad. That is pretty common knowledge (I hope you understand that).

So this is a problem.

Just how good is it likely to sell? And for how much?

Or maybe you just pass because “My buying rules say I never buy over 100k sales rank” .

Worse, you know that products out of season have bad sales ranks so you go ahead and buy it, but if you looked on the chart,you would find that even in season, it has a bad sales rank.

The simple answer is to check the charts to see if you can gather more information to help you make a better buying decision.

Advanced Techniques

Toward the end of the training, Stephen moves into more advanced stuff.

Honestly there are a lot of lessons on how to think like an experienced, full-time FBA seller.
Besides learning how to read charts and get a lot more information out of them than you did before, Stephen takes it a step farther. You will honestly feel kind of like an amauteru after you see how he thinks.

I almost feel like it is 2 different courses in one.

My Hack

I did see one area that Stephen left out. He assumed that experienced sellers are buying this. He assumes that they are using paid tools like Inventory Lab or paid scanning apps like Profit Bandit.

Not everyone is using or paying for those tools, so I thought “How would I do this if I didn’t have that tool?”

I found a very simple hack for doing something that has caused/would cause me not to do this while sourcing. (easily accessing the Keepa or CCC charts)

If it isn’t easy, you are not going to do it, so I made a video of how to set it up. (on an iPhone, but the concept is the same for Android)



I could go on and on and show more examples of what he has in his course, but that just wouldn’t be right.

I can say that I am not pushing his course to just make an affiliate sale. I honestly found a lot of value in it that I will be applying to my sourcing.

Will others see it that way?

I honestly don’t know.

It was something that I found value in and I understood it. Maybe others aren’t at the same place as me. Maybe others are more advanced than me.

With all of that said, I am an affiliate for this course. (I am an affiliate for all of Stephen’s products because they are all high quality)

If you have found value in my review, please go through my link ( it doesn’t cost you any extra)





Textbook Arbitrage With Zero Risk ( Almost Zero)

Textbook Arbitrage With A Twist

Amazon has a book buy back / trade in program. Many times on book listings you will see an offer “Sell yours for a gift card”.  This post will tell you how to make money from this.

Textbook Arbitrage

How Does The Buy Back Work

Amazon will give you a gift card for books in “good” condition and they give you a label for free inbound shipping.

When you click the button to trade yours in, it is going to ask you to verify the ISBN number. They are wanting the exact match to the book.

After you verify the book, and accept the offer, they give you a certain number of days to return the book.

I have seen 14 days as a common number of days, but at other times it has been less ( between late Dec. and early Jan) . I am not sure if it is variable based on the time of year or the book.

The price you are offered is guaranteed as long as you get the book in in time and it meets the minimum condition standards.

Also you are NOT obligated to send it in. You could just let the offer “die” or cancel it. ( this is important, as you will see later)

Arbitrage Opportunities

There are actually Merchant Fulfilled  3rd party sellers ( MF) that are selling textbooks for less than the trade in value.

This creates an arbitrage opportunity.

You can buy the textbook from a 3rd party MF seller and send to Amazon and get a gift card worth more than you paid for the book.

This is constantly changing. New offers pop up on book listings, sellers change their prices and Amazon raises or lowers the trade in value.
Other words, this is a HUGH opportunity.


The ROI most likely is going to be lower than you would expect than selling on Amazon FBA but you have to look at the risk.

In most cases, there is almost zero risk.

You know what you are buying a book for and you have the price you will get for it locked up say for 2 weeks. If everything goes as planned, you know what your profit is ( you don’t have to worry about a race to the bottom)

What Could Go Wrong

There are 3 things that generally could go wrong.

The book you buy could turn out to be in worse condition or the wrong ISBN. In that case, you would have to go through the hassle of returning it to the MF seller.

Second, you might not get the book in time. In that case, you could just start a new trade in and let the other one “die”. The price being offered may be lower, but in some cases, it might actually be higher ( and in that case even if you can get the book in in time, you would take the higher price and let the lower price “die” or cancel it.)

Thirdly, Amazon grades the book worst and doesn’t accept it. ( or it is missing something) In this case, you could return it to the MF seller ( a little harder since it has been a couple of weeks).

Hopefully you would catch this before sending it in. There are actually other book buyback programs, so you could send it to one of them or you could just send it into FBA and sell it.

With all that said, the actual risk of any of those happening is on the low side.

Finding Books For Textbook Arbitrage

In the past, I have manually searched for books. This works, but it is slow.

My son, who loves to do textbook arbitrage, came up with a Chrome extension to make the process easier.

Here is a video on how the extension works

Get the Chrome extension I used in the video here:

As you can see, you still have to do research, but the extension makes it a lot easier.

Other Sites For Textbook Buyback

Amazon isn’t the only game in town. There are other textbook buyback sites and sometimes they pay more than Amazon will for a textbook.

Here is one that searches several sites at once


In many cases, you might decide that selling a textbook via FBA may make you way more money and choose to do that. In other cases, you might want to grab the guaranteed profit that the textbook buyback program offers.

This is good way to profit on textbooks when it is not “textbook season”. ( textbook season is the start of every college semester when textbooks sell at their highest prices).

You are faced with the choice of a quick return or a buy and hold scenario if you get textbooks out of season.

Get the Chrome extension I used in the video here: