I’ve been sourcing books online for more than two years now… and I recently wanted to make sure the book arbitrage software I was using was actually the best fit for the job.
To figure this out, I opened the two major book arbitrage software options (Zen Arbitrage and eFlip) on each of my two computer monitors. I then painstakingly compared each and every feature side-by-side to see what was different (and how much those differences actually mattered).
Here’s what I found…
On the surface, both Zen Arbitrage and eFlip seem pretty equal:
- Both allow you to search through Amazon’s catalog of books.
- Both let you fine-tune your searches with a suite of adjustable options.
- Both cost the same price.
- Both offer a free trial.
This is where the similarities end though. After a few days of careful analysis, I found that Zen Arbitrage is clearly the better online book arbitrage software.
- Difference #1: Zen lets you filter out books lacking Amazon trade-in values
- Difference #2: Zen has 4 search options that eFlip doesn’t have
- Difference #3: Zen shows the lowest FBA price in the search results
- Difference #4: Zen lets you color-code books you view or purchase
- Difference #5: Zen has a customer service live chat
- Difference #6: Zen has a flip opportunity marketplace
- Difference #7: Zen has more than 40 extra video tutorials
- Difference #8: Zen’s text is significantly easier to read
- Difference #9: Zen lets you set email price alerts
- Difference #10: Zen loads 150 more results per page
- Difference #11: Zen lets you export your search results into an Excel/Google Sheets file
1. Zen lets you filter out books lacking Amazon trade-in values.
This is one of the biggest reasons Zen is better than eFlip.
For those unaware, Amazon has a textbook trade-in program. They purchase used textbooks from students and resell them under the “Amazon Warehouse” vendor name.
You’ve probably seen the trade-in box on Amazon’s textbook pages:
The green number in that box is determined by an algorithm. This algorithm uses all of Amazon’s internal data to determine a textbook’s worth. It then offers to buy it for considerably less than that.
Unfortunately for us mere humans, Amazon’s algorithm is inconceivably better at judging a book’s value than we are. That’s why you need to use it when making purchase decisions.
While both eFlip and Zen show you the trade-in values, Zen is the only one to let you limit search results to books with trade-in values.
This means an eFlip user will get tons of books with no trade-in value cluttering their search results. Meanwhile, a Zen user won’t waste time sifting through untrustworthy books lacking trade-in values.
If the Zen user and the eFlip user source the same number of books, the Zen user will likely end up with a higher percentage of profitable flips because they can consistently use the most reliable indicator of a book’s value when making purchase decisions.
2. Zen has four search options that eFlip doesn’t.
1. Category search
The category search feature lets you search by book topic. This is helpful when you’re searching for higher-priced graduate school textbooks, like Law or Medicine.
It’s not uncommon to see these books go for $250+ in peak textbook season, which makes them highly sought after in the book arbitrage community. So when you’re looking for these extra-profitable books, having the option to search by category is pretty helpful.
2. You can filter out books not sold by Amazon
Zen gives you the option to remove books not sold by Amazon from your search results. This is helpful because Amazon’s price provides you with an upper price ceiling. If you know Amazon’s price, you know how high the price might go in the peak of textbook season.
This information is very useful when making purchase decisions.
Here’s an example: say you can choose between buying a book with a $300 Amazon price and a $100 Amazon price. If all other factors are equal, you’ll likely go with the $300 option, because the price might peak at $200 more than the book with the $100 ceiling.
3. You can filter out books lacking trade-in value
I know, I know… I already mentioned this.
But it’s a search parameter Zen has that eFlip lacks, so it only makes sense to include it in this section.
4. You can set different default options for search sorting
Zen gives you the ability to set your default sorting to 5 different categories.
- Used price
- New price
- Amazon’s Price
- Sales rank
- Publication date
This is a helpful quality-of-life feature, and can save a bit of time when you open Zen for a new sourcing session.
3. Zen shows the lowest FBA price in the search results.
Being able to see the lowest FBA price while you’re still on the search results page is huge. I can’t overstate how important this is: this single feature will let you source more than twice as fast.
To put things into perspective, here’s an example:
Let’s say you have a page of 100 search results open on both Zen and eFlip. The Zen results all display the lowest FBA price. The eFlip results don’t.
Every time you find a potential flip on eFlip, you’ll have to take the following steps:
- Click through to the Amazon offers page
- Wait for the page to load
- Click the “Prime” checkbox to take you to the FBA offers (unlike Zen, eFlip doesn’t take you directly to the FBA offers)
- Check the lowest FBA offer
- Click back to the eFlip page
- Close the FBA offers page
Let’s compare with Zen Arbitrage…
Every time you find a potential flip on Zen Arbitrage, you’ll have to take the following steps:
- Look at the lowest FBA price on the Zen search results page
And that’s it.
Can you see why it’s so important?
If you’re checking hundreds of books an hour, that 6-step process eFlip makes you go through will waste a ton of time. And the problem only compounds if you have a slow computer or crappy internet.
If you use Zen, you’re going to get through that page of 100 books much faster than you would if you were using eFlip.
4. Zen lets you mark books you view or purchase.
The first time you look at a book’s product page, you should be marking the book as viewed in your arbitrage software so you don’t waste time checking it again.
Because Zen lets you mark books you review or purchase, Zen users can maximize their sourcing time by avoiding duds they’ve already checked.
eFlip doesn’t offer any sort of marking system. This means eFlip users will waste time looking at books they’ve already looked at, while Zen users can use that extra time to source fresh books and make more money.
5. Zen has a customer service live chat.
If you need help using the software, reaching out to the developers is often your best bet.
Zen Arbitrage offers a convenient and responsive live chat just for its subscribers. They usually answer within a few hours, and if you close the live chat window, their response will go to your email.
eFlip only has a contact form on a web page. I haven’t contacted them about anything, so I can’t speak to their responsiveness. But you wouldn’t be able to get an instant, on-screen response — you’d have to wait for an email.
6. Zen has a flip opportunity marketplace
If you’ve got more money than time, Zen Arbitrage lets you put that money to use by allowing you to pay people to tell you about profitable books.
The going rate is about 10% of the net profit for the flip. So if a book stands to make you $50, the lead will usually cost about $5. — not a bad price to pay for an instant lead.
And if you find a profitable flip that you don’t want to shell out the cash for, you can still profit from it by listing it in the marketplace. As many flips make $50+, the payout is pretty good for just looking through some Amazon product pages.
7. Zen has more than 40 extra video tutorials.
Zen Arbitrage’s resources section has more than 50 in-depth video tutorials about using their software, sourcing books online, and other FBA tips. These videos are also pretty high-quality, and I must say I learned a fair bit of useful information from them.
eFlip only has 9 video tutorials. I also didn’t find them as nuanced or informative as Zen’s videos were, which is pretty critical if you’re still learning the book arbitrage ropes.
8. Zen’s text is significantly easier to read
This one might seem like I’m being nitpicky, but text size and font genuinely make a difference.
Compare the typography on Zen with that of eFlip:
Zen Arbitrage typography:
eFlip‘s font is thinner and smaller. The text is also formatted to stick to the right side of the column, which is the opposite of what us web users have come to expect.
This deviation from the norm makes it harder to read, which I find quite irritating.
9. Zen lets you set email price alerts.
While you will probably be using Keepa for setting price alerts, Keepa maxes out at 5,000 alerts. If you hit that mark, you need to move to another tool for alert setting.
eFlip does not have price alerts, but Zen does. If you use Zen to source books, you can set email price alerts right from the search results page. This will enable you to take advantage of repricer errors that temporarily send book prices plummeting.
Note: I highly recommend setting alerts if you aren’t doing so yet — some of my best flips have come from price drop alerts that let me know about lucrative repricer error deals.
10. Zen loads 150 more results per page.
Zen loads a maximum of 250 search results on one page. eFlip maxes out at 100.
This isn’t a huge deal, but clicking to a new page when you’re focused and in the zone will break your concentration and cost a bit of time. It also takes Zen a bit of time to load all of the FBA offers, so a larger results page means less time waiting for that critical information to pop up.
11. Zen lets you export your search results into an Excel/Google Sheets file.
This is actually pretty important. If you get rather good at textbook arbitrage, you’re going to start using Excel/Google Sheets functions to organize and process data.
If you use eFlip, you can’t make Excel or Google Sheets optimize your sourcing process, which kind of sucks.
If you’re sourcing books online, you should use Zen Arbitrage.
It costs the same as its main competitor, but it offers a boatload of extra features that will streamline your sourcing process and let you check more books per hour. And they offer a 14-day free trial, so you can try sourcing books online risk-free.