Amazon Trade-In is your Friend

If you're are all up in the picking and flipping game, you are inevitably all up in the shipping game as well. Any online merchant worth his or her salt had better understand the costs and hassles of shipping. And you have better get yourself a pretty big stash of padded envelopes, adhesive labels, packing tape, and common sized boxes.

Sure, you can reuse old boxes and relabel old paddies here and there. But once you're shipping merchandise on the regular, you had better just bite the bullet and buy some supplies. You sure as hell don't want to be stuck paying full retail price for a last minute padded envelope at the post office or convenience store.

One of the best places to get cheap but effective shipping supplies sent directly to your home or office is right there on Amazon. Go ahead, do a quick search for #5 Padded Envelopes, or bulk packs of shipping tape. You aren't likely to beat those prices. And despite some frightening reviews, I've never had a problem with quality when buying generic supplies from a third-party merchant through Amazon.

And what's even better than buying discount boxes of boxes? Trading in picked books and media for 'em! Here is the short version of how it works:
Some popular items (books, dvds, and cds mostly) have trade-in value. To see if a book you are scanning has trade-in value, you need to use Amazon Student app (the regular app just doesn't give you these values). Just scan the barcode, and look for the extra value in green under the New & Used value. See:

So, in this example, you could list your recently bought copy of Science and Religion: A Historical Introduction for sale (the lowest competitive price is $6.40), or you can "Trade-In" your copy and get a guaranteed $4.59.

Basically, a "Trade-In" is a book that, if in Good or better condition, can be sold directly to a partner of Amazon. The best part is, they pay the shipping! And you can group all your Trade-Ins into one big package to ship all together.

The downside is that your Trade-In values are paid out in Amazon credit. This isn't much of a downside if you regularly shop through Amazon. And if you don't, you can use the Trade-In credit to stock up on shipping supplies, like we discussed at the beginning of this blog post.

A few things to keep in mind:
Not that many items have a lot of Trade-In value. And those that due usually have a value that is much, much less than what you could get from just selling the sucker. Examples like the one above a pretty rare. Even more rare, but certainly out there, are those anomalies that have the Trade-In value even higher than the lowest for sale price! If you find one of those bad boys, close the deal.

Also know that the Trade-In value listed on the item page on media items like CDs and DVDs are for New condition. The value for Like New and Good are usually much less. See the images below.

Another thing to remember is that the Trade-In value of an item can fluctuate (usually decreasing) over time. I used to save up a big box of Trade-In and then execute them all at once in one box, but even a few days in a holding pattern can reveal a huge drop in your potential credit. It's best to confirm and mail right away.

Lots of CDs have a Trade-In value of just 50 cents or so, but if you can get those cheaper, it is a guaranteed profit. No waiting to see if an item will sell, and no shipping costs to calculate (or mis-calculate). And I'll say it again, even if you don't want anything on Amazon, you likely will need to buy shipping supplies, so there you go!


  1. That's a near idea since you don't have to pay taxes on it either!

  2. Hi Pete,
    Thanks for more great information. I've done this before to great results. But I've only been able to figure the trade-in value by manually entering an ISBN on the web site. My Android phone has the Amazon Shopping app but it will not list the trade in value. As you said, I should be working with the student app, but there is no such version in the Google Play store. Any ideas?

    1. Entering those ISBN's through a phone's web browser is certainly a pain. Android needs to get on that. If I discover (or if anybody else knows about and wants to comment) a third-party app that give Trade-In Values, I'll update the post.