An Overview of Book Conditions
Do they matter? Well... It depends.
So far, 2022 has been off to a great start for myself. As of writing this post, I’ve accumulated more revenue from Amazon in January than I did in all of 2021. I’ve completely exceeded all of my expectations heading into the year, and I’m scrambling to enlist the help of a prep center and a virtual assistant so I can keep up with the growth of my business. That being said, I still want to help you start making money selling on Amazon. If this sounds interesting to you, join the BowTiedArbitrage discord and I’ll be more than happy to answer all of your questions.
Enough about myself though. This post will go over some basic guidelines when it comes to book conditions, and if they really matter that much.
How To Grade Books
Amazon has their own definitions for each book condition and what criteria is required for a book to be in that condition, but Amazon employees never grade books themselves so I’m just going to go over what my assessment of each condition is from personal experience.
This one is pretty straight-forward. New books are free of use, have no defects, and include access codes (if the book offers one). Some people think that for a book to be in New condition it has to be wrapped in plastic, but this isn’t true as many publishers do not shrink-wrap their books.
Like New books are very close to New, but have suffered minor damage. This one is pretty subjective which is why you won’t see a lot of books on Amazon listed as Like New, but I’ll talk about some scenarios later on where it might be a good idea to do so.
Very Good books are still in pretty nice condition, but the wear is a lot more noticeable. You’ll probably see some dents and scratches, but overall nothing to complain about for a used book.
This is where we start to get really subjective. Good books are expected to have some wear, but the amount is really up to whoever is selling the book. I’d say as long as nothing is warped or torn, you should be fine to list it as Good.
Acceptable books are by definition, still useable but pretty worn down. Many sellers have their own definition of what is Acceptable, but generally speaking you’ll know an Acceptable book when you see one. While some people might recommend that you stay away from these kinds of books or any book with this condition, if you’re a bit of a risk taker there’s some money to be made with these.
How Conditions Affect Price
If you’ve been trying to flip books for a little while, you’ve probably noticed that most used conditions for a book will generally sell for the same price. Since most sellers are grading their own books, this makes sense. So, do book conditions really matter and should you be paying attention when trying to buy books to flip? That really depends on your own personal risk tolerance, and I’ll go over some different scenarios where you can take advantage of Amazon’s ambiguity.
Flipping Beat Up Books
Personally, I have no issue with selling books that have sustained a lot of damage. However, there are a couple of things I do before just selling it:
If any sort of repair can be done, do it (e.g taping a ripped page, repairing a cover peeling off with a glue stick, etc.)
Note what the issues with the book are in the details section of your listing.
Here’s an example of a book I sold in the past:
I purchased it in Acceptable condition at a really low price, and the only issue with it was that it had some pages torn out. The pages were still in the book, but they weren’t attached. I simply taped the pages together, and in my description I noted the book’s issues. This way the customer knows exactly what they’re getting themselves into when they purchase the book.
It took a while, but I managed to sell it for a really good margin:
As long as you have the condition note to warn the buyer of what they’ll be getting, you should be fine with selling any book that can still be read. While it’s not guaranteed that the buyer will see this note and they can always return the book if they want, I’m comfortable with taking the risk because it works out in my favor more often than not.
Used Books With Access Codes
Here’s another scenario where using the condition notes really comes in handy. Let’s say you have a book that’s definitely not New, but there’s an unused access code inside. To a student who might need the access code, it’s effectively a New book. So what do we do in this situation? Listing it as New is a possibility and you might be able to get away with doing that, but it’s a little dishonest. I recommend listing as Like New, and using the condition notes to let the buyer know that there’s an unused access code. Here’s an example where I do exactly that and get a sale $30 above the buy box price:
This is a used book I bought that came with an access code. I figured I could get someone to buy it if I let them know there was an access code included since a New copy of this book was over $200.
And earlier this week, I managed to sell it:
Here’s the current buy box for the book:
Once again, by taking some risks and using the condition notes I was able to squeeze out some extra profit.
Hopefully this post gives you a better idea of how book conditions work and how you can use them to your advantage. As always, I’m more than happy to answer questions and I hope to see some of you making that sweet WiFi money this year.