Do you have a lot of old books lying around that are just collecting dust? Have you ever wondered what to do with them, or how they could make money for your family? Well now is the time! With this guide, I’ll show you how to make money selling used books online in order to make an additional $100 every month.
I’ll cover topics such as: where to find cheap books, which ones are worth more than others, and how much profit can be made on each book.
Making money selling used books (or even homemade books you’ve made yourself) can be as easy or as hard as you want to make it. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll have a better idea of how you can turn it into a nice side hustle that will give you some extra money each and every month.
What Expertise is Needed to Become a Book Seller?
One of the best things about selling used books is that you don’t need to be an expert at used books. It is fairly easy to get started and doesn’t require any specific skillset. All you need is access to your phone and places where you can get your hands on some used books. Speaking of which, let’s dive right into that now.
Where to Find Books to Sell Online
In order to make money selling books, you need to find books that you can sell for a higher price than you paid for them. This is the same for any item you’re flipping. (Read more about how to make money through flipping.) The difference between flipping books and flipping other products is that there usually isn’t as high of a profit margin on books.
This is due to a couple of reasons.
The first is that books just aren’t that expensive to begin with, when compared with products like shoes or electronics. That means that even if you find a good deal on a used book, you likely won’t be able to sell it for big bucks.
Second, there are typically multiple sellers for the same type of book, which cuts down on your profit margin. If there are 20 other people selling the same book you have, and if there’s not a huge demand for it, it’s going to be harder for you to complete with a higher price.
However, just because these two challenges exist doesn’t make it any less profitable to sell used books online. In fact, you can still go into business flipping used books and making a decent living at it! The secret to making money selling used books is finding where to buy them in the first place.
There are actually a number of places to find used books, whether they by school textbooks or low-content books. Some of the best places include:
- thrift stores
- charity shops
- yard sales
- estate sales
- friends and family
Let’s look at each of these individually.
Thrift stores can be a great place to buy used books because they’re usually willing to reduce the prices in order to sell them faster. This means you can find some really great deals on books at thrift stores!
For example, I have a thrift store a few blocks from my house. I usually go there at least twice a week to check out deals on shoes and clothing. However, while I’m there, I’ll also spend about 10 to 15 minutes checking out the books. The store sells all paperbacks for $1 and all hardback books for $2. This means that if you can find any book over these prices, you can make a profit. The profit might not be huge on any single book but if you add them up over time, you can make money.
Charity shops are like thrift stores. However, one thing that makes them different is that they are run by organizations such as churches and charities. In the US, many of these shops sell everything for $0.50 or less which means you can make a profit on any purchase!
Yard sales (or garage sales as I call them) are seriously underrated as places to find books to flip. Yard sales haven’t been very popular over the last year because of COVID, but at least where I am, garage sales are popping up all over the place. This is especially true because there is a ton of real estate buying and selling all over the country. Look for sales where the owners are downsizing. You can find great deals on books (as well as tons of other stuff to flip).
One of the things that makes buying at yard sales a good investment is that you can buy a lot of books for not that much money. For example, I have bought entire boxes (around 50-100) of children’s and young reader books at yard sales with prices ranging from $0.50-$15 per box!
Estate sales are different than garage sales in that they are usually held by professional auctioneers and they often sell a lot more than just books. You’ll find household items, jewelry, furniture – anything that can be sold in an estate sale!
Estate sales are where most of the really great deals happen because people typically only clean out their houses when someone dies or if they’re moving to a smaller place. The trick is finding them before everyone else does. I’ve had success with realtors who specialize in selling homes but you may also want to try searching through listings on Craigslist (or another classifieds website) for signs like “household goods” and “estate sale”.
Friends and Family
Often, some of the best places to find used books to sell is from friends and family who just want to get rid of their stuff. This happened to me a couple of weeks ago. I was visiting my mother-in-law and she was complaining that she had about 30 books she wanted to donate but didn’t want to spend the time taking them down off the shelves, boxing them up, and taking them to the thrift store. I told her that I would be glad to take them from her.
I threw them in some boxes I had in the car, drove home, and started sorting through them. Only about 2/3 of the books were worth anything but because they were essentially free to me, I ended up making about $30 on the books that were worth something.
Then I just took the other ones that weren’t worth anything and dropped them off at the thrift store on my way to work the next morning!
Where to Sell Used Books
There are a lot of places where you can sell your used books, such as eBay, Amazon Marketplace, and Etsy.
However, while some people do make money selling used books on these sites, I prefer to sell books to companies that are already willing to pay you for those books. When you sell this way, it means you don’t have to hold book inventory, hoping that an individual seller will buy your books.
The last thing you want is 50 copies of Harry Potter taking up valuable space in your garage. In addition, these companies make it super easy for you to see if the company will buy your books. Most of this is done by apps.
And there are two apps that I completely recommend when it comes to making money selling used books:
The way these apps work is that you open the app which presents you with an ISBN scanner, then scan a book’s ISBN barcode, and the app will then tell you if the company (or which company) is buying that particular book.
This is awesome because with these apps, you can go to your local thrift store, open the app, and simply go down the row of books and scan every single one. When you come across a book that is selling on the app for more than the price being sold by the thrift store, you buy it.
Once you reach over a certain threshold of books, you simply use the app to print out a free shipping label and mail the books to the company. The company checks over the books, makes sure that all the ones are included that you said you’d send, and then they issue you payment for the books through PayPal.
There’s no haggling, no negotiation, and no wondering if a book you buy will sell. You know the exact price you can sell it for before you ever even buy the book!
If only every flip was this easy 🙂
Now, let’s look at the two apps I that I recommended earlier.
With BookScouter, you can sell your old textbooks and used books for the most money by comparing offers from over 30 book buyback vendors with a single search.
All you do is enter or scan the ISBN, hit enter, and you’ll be presented with a list of book vendors and the price at which those vendors are willing to buy your book.
Here’s a quick video that explains how you can sell books on the website.
The app functions the same way as the website.
In my opinion, sellbackyourBook is the best book buyback vendor on the market. First of all, sellbackyourBook is definitely not a scam. I’ve used them myself multiple times to make money selling used books. They are an accredited business with the BBB and have an A rating. In all of the times I’ve used their service, I’ve never had a bad experience.
sellbackyourBook works in the same way that BookScouter does but obviously only provides you with data for what they’re willing to buy your books for.
The thing that I like about sellbackyourBook and what makes it better than all the other book buyback vendors is the threshold you have to reach before you can “cash out.”
With most of the other book buyback vendors, you need to have anywhere between $15 and $30 worth of books to sell before you can ship them in to the company and get paid. That is a lot of books, especially if you’re only making less than a $1 per book. In my flipping business, whether it’s books or shoes or anything else, I try to keep my inventory to a minimum. I don’t want to have to hold on to books for longer than I have to. Especially because books are heavy and take up lots of space.
sellbackyourBook is different. With them, you only need to have $7.50 worth of books before you can send them in and get paid. That means that if you’re lucky, you’ll only need a few books before you can send them in and get paid.
In addition, there are a couple of other things that make sellbackyourBook the best place to sell your used books:
- they offer free shipping on every order
- they continually beat all the other book buyback vendors on price
- they pay you within three days of processing your order; no need to wait around to receive payment
Download the sellbackyourBook app or log on to the site and start scanning the books you have laying around that you no longer want. You’ll be surprised at how many there are that are worth money!
The Best Books To Sell Online
OK, now comes the tactics. You know where to buy the books and where to sell them. Now you need to know which books you should focus on. Obviously, these companies won’t buy every book out there from you. So one of the secrets to making money selling used books is to find the best books. The ones that will make you the most money.
After doing this for a while, I’ve discovered that while there are books that can be surprises, you’re best best is to stick with business books and textbooks.
The reason that business books and textbooks sell well is because there are always people who need them, and they’re fairly consistent in their prices.
So I would recommend looking for anything with a business title or something to do with economics, marketing, finance or accounting.
For example here’s a screenshot of one of my most recent book buybacks I did with sellbackyourBooks:
As you can see, these three books alone were worth over $11. I only paid $1 for each one at my local thrift store so that was $8 of profit I made on just books. This was during a visit I was already making to the thrift store to find shoes to flip so it wasn’t something that was out of my way or a separate trip.
I was already going to the store so while I was there I was able to make an addition $8. You can see that two of the books are business-related, specifically about entrepreneurship and real estate. The third book is about therapy.
If you can stay in this genre of books, you’ll find books that are worth more.
Anyone can make money selling used books, and it doesn’t take a lot of time. Follow the steps outlined in the article above and you’ll be well on your way to starting a side hustle that
FAQ – Make Money Selling Used Books
Can I become a multi-millionaire selling used books?
There’s no guarantee that you’ll become a multi-millionaire, but if you sell enough books for the right price and in high volume, there is potential to make some money.
Do I need to know anything about business or marketing?
No. You just need to find good quality used books that can be sold at a profit. It doesn’t require any additional skills other than knowing how much your book will cost when you buy it and how much you can sell it for.
Is it better to sell your used books on Amazon or eBay?
Between the two, it’s better to sell on Amazon. Selling your books in bulk is the best way to maximize profit and there are two options for selling them: 1) As a Marketplace Seller (individual, low volume) or 2) Through the Fulfilled by Amazon program. However, I still prefer selling to book buyback vendors.
Is there money to be made in reselling second-hand books?
Yes, there is money to be made in reselling second-hand books. While the profit margins are not as high as more expensive items such as electronics or furniture, it can still provide a good income if you purchase used books and textbooks at thrift stores and garage sales.
How do I find used books?
You can attend library book sales or garage sales with friends. You could also try online classifieds like Craigslist, eBay Classified Ads, Half Price Books website, and other local Facebook buy/sell groups that may exist near you.
How do I find used book buyers?
Post your listings on Facebook buy/sell groups that exist near you; use Craigslist’s “for sale” section, eBay Classified Ads (just make sure to include free shipping); post them locally like at libraries or grocery stores; post them online via Amazon Seller Central or eBay. Or, just use the apps I outlined in the article.
How do I know what used books will sell well?
It can depend on the content of the book and your geographic location. For example, a used medical textbook will likely sell better in an area with high demand for it than elsewhere because people need to study for tests or they’ll fail out.
Is selling used books on Amazon still profitable?
Yes, but it can be harder to find good deals nowadays. That’s why I prefer to sell using BookScouter or sellbackyourBook because I can get a for sure deal through those apps/websites.
How do I make money selling used books?
It’s a process. First you need to buy and sell more books than you spend on them – this will be your profit margin that can grow over time with enough patience. Then all of your profits should go back into buying used books and reselling them for higher prices until things are going smoothly.