India isn’t an expensive place, $1 can buy a half dozen meals on the street, 2$ can buy a shirt and $3 was enough for me to rent a two bedroom place overlooking the river in Varanasi. With India being so cheap, doing anything to make money there seems a little strange, but the calling of an entrepreneur is to utilize resources when you have them, and India has an amazing resource.
When I was a university student I would buy books from students and resell them to students over amazon, it was a very easy job with very high turnover. A few of those books were the “South Asian Edition” of the books, books that were in every way identical to the “American” version of the books, except that they were in black and white and as I learned in India, a lot cheaper.
I asked my Couch host (I couch surf in every city I visit) to show me the book market and when he did I saw the same books that I had sold on Amazon for 80, 90, $100 selling for as low as $2.50. I double-checked online to make sure they were still selling for as much, they were. I bought 46 books for $194 then filled a rickshaw tight and headed to the post office.
I mailed the books to myself, shipping by sea, which cost about 2$ per book and would take two months. Some of the packages were taxed, others not. The tax amounted to about $20. When they arrived I listed them online. I put my price at 60% of the market price and in all caps explained “THIS IS THE SOUTH EAST ASIAN EDITION OF THE BOOK, IT IS THE SAME AS THE AMERICAN EDITION, EXCEPT IN BLACK AND WHITE AND A LOT CHEAPER.” I emailed every buyer to double check they were ok with this Indian edition. I sold all of the books online within 1 month and I did it all without being there (I was in Eastern Europe at the time), I put them online using a list I had made and had my family help with shipping.
I never had a complaint and I never broke a law. In 2013 the Supreme Court Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, 11-697, ruled that reselling goods bought anywhere is legal. In the end, my profit was about $2400.
Book cost: $194
Amazons 10 % cut. $302
If you want to try this, it’s not difficult. The next time you’re abroad, visit the book markets and cross-reference the books there with the books that are selling on Amazon. Focus on books with high costs and an amazon sales ranking of 100,000 or less, the lower the better. If the sales rank is less than 5000 that means that you can sell an almost unlimited amount in one month. Do double check to make sure the book is the same length and for economic books, double check that the currency used is the same. From there just ship your books home, sign up for an amazon sellers account, and enjoy.