Book Trading: Easy Money, Super Fast.

Book trading is a great way to start a home business. It’s not for everyone and it doesn’t boom year around, but it’s a great way to get started. If you want to know more about doing book trades for a home business, take a look at this post by PBA’s “Book Trading Maestro” daughter, Jewel the Froggo.

So, what is this trading?


Trading is another way of making money via buying and selling books on the internet. It is different from what we call arbitrage, which is selling on Amazon. It’s different because it’s buying to sellback or ‘trade’ to another company. Sometimes the same company you buy from!

So there are easy things and not so easy things about trading.

Easy to Grasp

For those of us who aren’t geniuses about turning money into more money- i.e. me, there are simpler ways to make cash than crunching numbers and telling hundreds of people what to do.

I’m not the smartest potato in the stew pot, but I was able to learn this stuff with thirty minutes or so of patient mentoring from my dad. Of course I’m not promising immediate and complete success as soon as you start, but because it’s much simpler and less risky than Amazon selling, I think anyone can handle on it with a little practice.

No Reputation Building

Another way it’s different from arbitrage is that you don’t have to build up your company and worry about unhappy customers and A-Z claims. The companies you’re buying and selling to have done all the work for you! When you buy books to trade, they don’t care who you are and they won’t give you bad reviews for failing to carry the trade through. Clean slate every time.

Limited Time Offer!

Searching for trades is like a seasonal treasure hunt. December and January are great times to be searching, then from May through September. Beyond that you probably won’t find much, even if you’re searching like a pro.

The reason for this is because the textbooks seasons are right in that sweet spot when students are still shopping for books so companies want to get as many books as they can before it ends. You buy it for five, they pay you ten for it and sell it for twenty (or something ridiculous like two hundred). Everybody gets cash, everybody’s happy!

Fast Money!


Unlike Amazon Selling- which can take several months, you’ll get your money back within a couple weeks with an average profit of 30%-90%. So while you might make less money over all, you’ll earn it a lot faster.

You only have to spend small amounts of money when you have it to buy one or two books online and turn them around for a bit of extra money. No long term commitments here. Spend five minutes and ten dollars today, then another five minutes next week and by week two you have fifteen more! Then do it again. And again. Now you have a HUNDRED moneys from five!

When it Goes South


Trades won’t always work out. Typically when you order a book, you want them to be Used: Good condition, but they’re not always as described if y’know what I mean. When you receive your trade book, you should always examine it carefully. Here’s some things that will probably rain on your trade party.

  • Suspiciously excessive black or green tape around the top and spine of the book that say something like recycled or used book.

This is an Instructor’s edition and I don’t know of any company that accepts these for trades.

Usually the seller will say something to the effect of: “Used book store stickers/tape but otherwise good condition etc.”

  • Instructor’s Edition,

Says not for retail on the back with a big warning signal, or I.E.

Another variation of this is International/Economy Edition. You can’t trade these.

  • Water or smoke damage
  • Broken spine
  • Ripped pages
  • Excessive writing/highlighting

Nobody quite has the same definition for excessive, so this there’s a little wiggle room here. Some companies are relaxed about this and others are persnickety and you’ll lose your money, so use your judgment as to which company you’re selling to.

  • No Access Codes/CD

Some companies specify they want their supplements with the books so I try to avoid those trades because used books with Access Codes and Cd’s are far and few between.

However if the company says nothing about needing and supplements- even if the supplements are usually with the book, you can go ahead and trade it!

  • Counterfeit Copy

Some book sellers buy counterfeit books from out of country and sell them really expensive. Students don’t know the difference, but to big trade companies this is serious because they don’t want to get sued by the authors.

Typically missing a copyright page

Thin, almost see-through paper

I Got Garbage Books So…?


Don’t worry! There are steps you can take to get your money back. For those of us who have an Amazon store, you can sell the ones that aren’t obviously too bad, a Student Edition in Used: Acceptable Condition maybe. But the following editions can only be returned: Instructor, International, Economy, and Counterfeit.

For this reason I try to buy from sellers I trust and/or sellers with an excellent return policy. With trades there’s always that risk and reward side to it. When you make a trade you should always have a contingency in case it doesn’t work out.



Here’s how it works. There’s a few primary tools I use to search for trades, but I can’t reveal all because my dad wants people to pay for mentoring. Don’t want to get in trouble here!

First I go to my online search tool and go down the list until I find one that looks promising. It’s great at finding buyers but they don’t have all the sellers that are possible so that’s why I copy the ISBN from there and head over to where I paste it in and find my results. From there I can access my favorite sellers and buyers.

I see is buying a book for thirty dollars, and Thriftbooks is selling Good for only fifteen. That’s an excellent trade. So I buy the book and make the trade order (just like buying a book online, only it’s an order to sell the book) with I know has a time limit of thirty days so I have plenty of time for Thriftbooks to get it to me in time to get it out again.

It’s important to note here that you should track what books you buy, who you buy them from and who you’re selling them to. I use an Excel Spreadsheet.

Next week I receive the book from Thriftbooks and I examine it. Assuming it is in Good Condition- tradable condition that is, I’ll first go back to Bookfinder and make sure nobody is buying it for more than my first quote.  If there is a better trade by all means take it! You’re going to be shipping it immediately so there’s no reason not to make a little extra cash.

Get the label from the trade company, pack up the book and (hopefully) get your money by next week.

Practice Makes… Better


Like most things in life, if you practice book trading you can get better at it! There’s so many things I didn’t know when I started out that I’ve learned just by trying different things and experimenting. I have a 90% success rate of my trades and that’s pretty darn good I think. But maybe I can make your life a little easier by sharing a few tips about sellers and buyers.

Good Sellers to look out for:

  • Thriftbooks
  • Amazon
  • Biblio
  • Abebooks

All of these, both company and merchant have good return policies and they very rarely disappoint anyway. With Thriftbooks and Biblio you can get a lot of nice coupons too so that’s a bit of extra money.

Good Buyers to look out for:

  • Amazon
  • Textbookrush
  • Mybookcart
  • Booksrun
  • Valorebooks

Please note that Valore and Amazon will send you your book back if they don’t like it for some reason, but almost any other company will just keep it without giving your money back! So make absolutely sure when sending to other buyers that it’s a book they would want.


So, trading can be a great supplement to your Amazon bookstore, or just a part time job, but either way it’s a fast, simple way to make cash for not a lot of effort. Don’t be discouraged if your first few tries fizzle up into nothing, it took me a few weeks to get the hang of it and now I’m a pro- or I like to think I’m a pro.


Jenette here, I asked Jewel to create this post and I really enjoyed it. I hope you enjoyed it too. 🙂 This truly is a family business for us and Jewel is getting really good at managing our book trades – we pay her 😉

If you want to know more about the business we do you can take a look at our about page to view a video interview with PBA and learn about our journey in the book business and what it has meant for our family.