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Gold Capped: How to flip Books of Glyph Mastery

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Gold Capped, in which Basil "Euripides" Berntsen aims to show you how to make money on the auction house. Email Basil with your questions, comments, or hate mail!

Books of Glyph Mastery are currently needed by scribes in order to learn all the glyphs in the game. While they will eventually no longer be needed, they will always be useful. Even when Blizzard gets around to letting you research all the glyphs without them, those research recipes are both on a one-day cooldown, and the books can be used to continue learning. These books are an excellent candidate for "flipping" for a few reasons. Let's look into why and how to flip them.

Bad for the market?

Speculative flipping is not bad for the market. First, when people say "bad for the market," they mean "bad for people who need to buy glyph books." While flippers seem to be making money from nothing, they're actually making money from risk. They buy up excess stock in times of plenty and sell it in times of scarcity, and this protects book buyers from having to deal with a nearly empty auction house as often. All flippers do is make it so that when a couple of new scribes start buying books by the wheelbarrow and completely empty the AH, they won't have to wait for more stock to trickle in from people leveling through Northrend.

Speculative flipping can only be bad for buyers temporarily. If flippers decide to release stock very slowly to keep prices high, they have to deal with these items accumulating in their bank. Fewer books get sold when the prices are high, and eventually, the stock will have to be made available for a reasonable price or else speculators are going to be on the line for all the stock they bought but can't sell.

Also, as they've locked up a bunch of supply to artificially raise prices, they will have to pay more and more for freshly farmed books. If they pay more than the natural equilibrium price between the rate the books drop and the rate people start new scribes, they'll likely never get their money back. One person who does not farm or use books of glyph mastery can not profitably change the price for books in the long run. If he tries to raise them, he's left with too much expensive stock in his bags, and if he tries to lower them, he runs out of stock and prices rebound.

So, so flippable

These books are perfect for flipping. There are surges in demand but never in supply. The profit from flipping comes from evening out the price over the long run, and the more spiky the price is without speculators, the more profit there is in speculation.

A single person leveling inscription has the ability to use over 50 books, and that will increase to 200 when he makes these books share a recipe list with the research cooldowns. This kind of demand, especially when it's from two people simultaneously, can quickly reduce the supply to very low levels -- especially when the only way to get these books it, essentially, to level alts through Northrend.

Books of Glyph Mastery are not farmable. Sure, if you took a character out to someplace in Northrend and killed things long enough, you'll probably get one, but that is nothing compared to the money that character would make from cash drops and the enchanting mats you can disenchant from the random greens. Basically, unless Blizzard drastically changes the drop rates or creates some other way to acquire the books, the supply is:
  • Out of your control You can't profitably hire someone to farm them or farm them yourself.
  • Variable The number of people killing things in Northrend is probably related to how bored people are, and you might be able to see a correlation with the end of a patch and the book supply.
I'd probably try to avoid having much stock when patch 4.2 launches in case Blizzard makes good on its design change. When books are no longer the only way to get certain glyphs and are simply a faster way, the decision of whether to buy one or not will be looked at very differently, and this will reduce prices.

Right now, every serious glyph seller eventually buys a bunch of books. They'll try as hard as they can to minimize their expenses, but eventually, they all buy. This is a positive pressure on demand, which leads to overall higher prices. Once the change is made, the only time most people will buy glyph books is when it's cheap enough.

How to flip glyph books

The process is surprisingly simple: Buy books, list books, profit.

Okay, it's more intricate than that, but the intricacies are all in the prices you pay and charge, and the volume you buy and list. First off, you'll need to set a target for your profit margins. The thicker the margin, the fewer you're going to sell and the less frequently you'll find cheap books. Set a target buy price and a target sell price, and adjust them over time to reflect the amount of stock you have in your bank and how much you paid for it.

Listing books is cheap but not trivial. A deposit is required every time, and the more you list, the more you'll spend to keep them floating. You have to trade off this cost against the potential of selling a higher volume when a new scribe hits the market. It also makes canceling and relisting to undercut a tactic that generally isn't worth it.

The next thing you have to control for is the frequency you buy with. If you're the only market maker speculating and flipping these, you can get away with every day or two. Once you get some competition, though, this and your profit margins are the only place you can compete. The more you search for freshly dropped, inexpensive books on the AH, the more you'll get. The less you're willing to sell for, the more you'll sell, and the more you're willing to pay, the more you'll have to sell.

I'd be extra careful to avoid holding more stock than absolutely necessary on launch day for patch 4.2 and every subsequent patch until Blizzard fixes the design of the books so they grant the same recipes as research. Once this change happens, the whole dynamic of the market will change a little. The demand will on one hand be higher, because now people can use 200 books instead of only 50. On the other hand, they no longer need to use any and will eventually get the whole list through research. This will put a cap on how high of a price you can charge but will increase the volume of sales you make at a lower margin. You'll have to find a balance that works for you and your realm once the change is made.

Maximize your profits with more advice from Gold Capped as well as the author's Call to Auction podcast. Do you have questions about selling, reselling and building your financial empire on the auction house? Basil is taking your questions at basil@wowinsider.com.

Filed under: Economy, Gold Capped

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