Now there’s a business idea

College textbooks vary, predictably, in price across time.

What’s the best way to profit from this observation?

Write a quick book telling people how to do it?

10 thoughts on “Now there’s a business idea”

  1. bloke (not) in spain

    The question is, of course, does the principal apply to economics textbooks?
    If it does….they’re not being read.

  2. The pointer to it was from Greg Mankiw. Who writes the most popular US textbook, who teaches Econ 101 at Harvard and was the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers.

    And yes it does and you’re probably right.

  3. “What’s the best way to profit from this observation?”

    Start from the premise that it’s only freshers who solemnly buy everything they’re told to, and even then some buy second-hand. Wiser guys use libraries.

    (The way to defeat second-hand purchasers is to keep bringing out new editions.)

  4. It’s never been anything but an absolute fucking scam; especially in the US.

    Still, by all accounts the smarter kids are getting torrents of their textbooks these days anyway.

  5. Collect books from graduating students. Get some warehouse space in Amazon. Store them in there. Put them up for sale for the higher price. Wait.

    Other than getting the books in there, the rest can be done with computers.

  6. Tim Almond: “Collect books from graduating students.”

    Lots of UK universities have student co-ops which do exactly that. The co-ops have local knowledge about which books are useful and will be required the following academic session. I’ve used one to buy text books for the children of family and friends. Science, maths and engineering students can live with an old edition because principles do not change overnight.

    “is there arbitrage on soft-top cars?”

    My understanding is that Americans in places where it is cold in winter store their sports cars in barns or dedicated facilities. Sellers from Maine advertise “Never driven on snow” and most of the time they are not lying. European owners are a bit hardier but lots of soft tops are taken off the road.

    So if you’ve had enough of your car by September, you cocoon it away rather than selling it immediately. You might change your mind in March when the replacement car you fancy suddenly costs more. Ability to make money from seasonal price differences relies on cheap capital.

    Note that six figure classics are often sold by dealers on commission. The smaller market for competition cars runs all year round owing to healthy racing series in the southern hemisphere.

  7. bloke (not) in spain

    “is there arbitrage on soft-top cars? Buy in the depths of winter, sell in July?”

    Worked it at one time. Best with the cheaper end of the market & around 30%. But sell in May & go away, as the old saw has it.

  8. What Charlieman said (para 1).
    Before the co-ops started Blackwells (and, I assume, Heffer’s) used to buy and sell second-hand textbooks at a profit but nowhere near as greedy as the Americans cited. Students at my college, among others, ran a second-hand book store using Blackwell’s prices as a guide buying above Blackwell’s’ bid and selling below Blackwell’s’ offer on a 10% margin that covered losses due to textbooks being dropped in favour of new books or new editions. Zero other costs – the college lent us a small store-room near the JCR and manned by volunteers.

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