Easily Trade in Books for Money: The Ultimate Guide for Big Money

  • Time to read: 13 min.

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Have you ever thought about how you could trade in books for money? You’re not alone. Thousands of people trade their old, unwanted books every year to make some extra cash. The process is simple, but there are a few things that you should know before trading your book for profit.

To help you out with this decision to sell books, I’ve created an ultimate guide on how to trade in books for money — from how the process works to which companies offer the best trade-in offers and more! This guide is meant to cover everything, so label a piece of paper and get ready to take some notes!

Tips to Trade in Books for Money

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When you trade in books for money, whether homemade books or second-hand ones, there are some things to keep in mind to maximize your profit and make sure you get the best deal possible when you sell your books.

Check Out Local Thrift Stores

Before you trade in your books for money, one thing to consider is checking out the local thrift place. Thrift stores are more likely than not going to buy your book outright if it’s still readable and worth something – and that can be a much better deal than trading them in online or sending them off into the unknown!

Be Honest About Book Condition

If you trade in books for money, it’s important to be honest about the condition of your book before you sell them. Is the cover faded? Is the back cover cracked or ripped? The trade-in site or offline location where you sell your books will give you a value for your book based on its condition.

If they’ve given you a quote and then find out that the books are in much worse condition than what is indicated, you may lose all of your money. Usually, companies wanting books for trade-in will have a scale that determines the book condition.

  • Poor Condition
  • Good Condition
  • Very Good Condition
  • Like New Condition
  • Brand New Condition

The company you’re working with will usually have descriptions outlining each of these conditions for those who want to sell their books.

Know the ISBN of Your Books

The 13 digit ISBN number of your book is typically displayed on the back or inside a print edition book. Sometimes the barcode is on the first page as well. If you have a lot more books, it might be hard to find the barcode at first, but with an app that will scan codes, it’s easier than ever before!

Most often, this code (or barcode) will appear somewhere near the barcode, if not directly next to that, but sometimes you can find it in other places like along the spine and even on the back cover. To sell your copy online requires you to know (and scan) the 13 digit number of your print book so make sure you’ve got that handy before shipping.

Understand Paid/Free Shipping Times and Rates

When you trade in books for money or sell books as a bookseller, one of the other things to consider is how long it will take for your book trade-in to be processed and shipped.

Usually, you can ship your books either paid or for free — with a free shipping label generally being better. When looking at trade-in offers, make sure that you understand what the estimated time frames are before deciding on a company where you can sell your books.

When I trade in books for money, I usually only search for and accept companies that offer a free prepaid shipping label. That’s because trade-in sites with free shipping have a faster trade processing time. In addition, typically, when you trade in books for money, you don’t get a huge profit margin on a single sale.

That means that any shipping you pay will eat into those margins, giving you less money as a payment. So I always recommend you ship your books with a company that will provide you with a free prepaid shipping label.

Figure Out Which Types of Books Sell Best

One of the first things you need to learn when you start to sell books is figuring out which types of used books sell the best.

Every trade-in site is different, but you can typically trade in books for money that are popular and have some value. This might include newer releases or children’s books.

I always recommend trying to sell the most popular types of used books first when I trade in my old books. That way, I’m more likely to make a sale quickly — which means less time spent waiting around for someone else to buy it!

Some of the best types of books that sell the best (and fastest) include:

  • used textbooks
  • new textbooks
  • computer books
  • business books
  • real estate books

I’ve also found that some of the most popular trade-in book categories are home decorating, fashion & beauty, contemporary fiction, classic literature, and self-help books — so you might also want to look into trading those types of used books.

Use Amazon or eBay for Price Comparisons

When you trade-in books for money, one of the other things to keep in mind is using Amazon or eBay as a resource. Many trade-in sites now have their own bookstore on-site so that customers can buy used and new books from them directly.

However, if you want another price comparison when trading in your book, I recommend looking at the prices offered by trade-in sites and online retailers like Amazon or eBay.

Use Online Book Selling Tools to Get a Quote

One of the trade-in tips for books that I always recommend is using online book-selling tools. These can be used to get quotes on how much your trade-in books are worth before you sell them.

I’ve found a specific tool called Bookscouter, which you might want to look at if you’re going to sell some old books for money. They’ll give you an estimate of what those trade-ins will earn you based on their inventory, and they have a pretty large selection, too!

Sell Books Using an App

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The trade-in process works like this: You send the company you choose (eBay or Amazon) the details of what you want them to trade in, along with how many copies of each book type you have available.

They’ll then give you an offer depending on the value they think it’s worth — if that profit margin suits your needs, go ahead and accept their offer and sell the book using their shipping. If not, you can hold on to the books and find another place to sell used books and get rid of them.

Again, my favorite book-selling app is Bookscouter. I like this app for selling books online because it’s free to use and it has a large inventory. Plus, shipping is free on their site.

In addition, you can search by the 13 digit ISBN, see if your used books are in demand, and if so, sell books straight to Bookscouter. They will allow you to print free shipping labels to ship your books, and then they will pay you via PayPal (not cash), and you should get paid right away for your buyback.

If you don’t have a PayPal account yet, you can get one on the PayPal web page.

Best Places to Trade in Books for Money

In addition to Bookscouter, there are other places where you can trade in books for money and compare prices for your book buyback.


eBay has been around so long it’s practically the go-to place for online auctions to sell anything — but trading in books on their website can work too. They accept most types of paperbacks or hardcovers, as well as eBooks (though not textbooks). You will need an account before you trade in any items, though.

Your best bet to successfully sell your books on eBay is to offer them in lots of five. It’s more profitable that way.

eBay trade-in rates also vary depending on the condition and scarcity of your books, but they generally pay between 50 to 75% bookstore value — which can still be a pretty good deal for you! Just make sure when you sell paperbacks, trade up to trade paperback quality (meaning not heavily creased or bent).

If you have any hardcovers worth selling, I recommend checking out eBay before making an offer elsewhere because their trade-in bonuses are often better than other places. Plus, if you’re new at this – it might take some time to get used to using all the different sites available for trading in books online.

eBay will also pay you via PayPal and has a great app you can use for both book buying and checking on prices for selling books for cash.


Amazon also accepts many types of book formats for trading. For example, they trade in textbooks, and they even accept children’s books!

Amazon is always a good option for trade-in with trade-ins rates between 50 to 75% bookstore value. However, this does vary depending on the condition of your book so make sure you compare that before trading it in. Plus, if there are any defects or missing pages — those could put you at risk too.

The Amazon website used to offer store credit instead of payment, but I’m not sure if they still have their store credit offer. Also, they don’t offer payment through PayPal and instead deposit the money into your seller bank account.

Half Price Books

Half Price Books in New York is a great place to sell your books for free, especially if you need some extra spending cash. When I walked into the store with my old college textbooks and romance novels from high school that had seen better days, there was no judgment on any of their faces – they just wanted me to walk away with more than what I brought them!

Plus, it’s cool knowing someone who makes $20 over lunch can suddenly afford new bookends for themselves or even presents for friends and family this holiday season.


With the Decluttr app or website, you can sell used books, CDs, phones, and more. In addition, the app is a real time saver because it allows you to scan barcodes to get an instant quote for your items!

Once happy with the price of a book or CD, just ship them off at no cost. You also have the option of sending over any old tablets that won’t work anymore so they can be recycled responsibly, too – all free of charge!

Sell Back Your Book

Sell Back Your Book is a textbook recycling free website for students to get an instant quote on their textbooks. All you have to do is submit your order, and the company will provide shipping at no cost!

The textbook must be worth $50 or more to qualify for them to pay you, but this means that if it’s not, there’ll still be some cash coming back into your pocket when they buy it from you.

This article takes all of the hassle out of getting rid of old books – just input what information they need about the value and condition of your books, and boom: You’re done with selling books online!

Antique Stores

Antique markets are a trade-in idea for books that I always recommend people to think about first. They don’t trade in any book format, though — just old, used books (usually from the late 1800’s up until around 1970).

You can trade in these types of antique store trade-ins even if they’re not considered “antiques,” and they will still pay you depending on what the store thinks their value is worth. It might take some time, but it could be worth your while!

With antique stores, your payment method could vary but might include check or PayPal.

Specialized vs. General Book Trading

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When you start selling your books, you’ll quickly realize that you can either do specialized book trading or general book trading.

Specialized book trading is when you sell books (or a book collection) to a seller that are specific to a particular genre or type. You trade these books as a dealer, and it can be hard work.

On the other hand, general book trading is when you trade in all types of books that are not specific to any genre or style. You sell as an individual rather than a dealer with this kind of trade-in business. Either way, your customer will pay you for your books, usually making a payment through PayPal or some other way.

The decision between which one to go for comes down to personal preference — do you want more freedom (general) or less responsibility?

Why Knowledge is Key When You Sell Your Books

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Knowledge is the most important asset you should have when you sell your particular books.

If you want to trade books for money, it’s important that you know the basics of what your trade-in value is worth beforehand. Knowing this number is vital so you can get the proper payment. In addition, this will save you time trying to figure out how much profit you might have made on all those old textbooks in your garage!

So first things first: do some research about where people sell used books and make sure they are eligible for trade before making any offers for payment.

You’ll also need an account with them if they’re online sellers, so be prepared when going down this route! The more information upfront, the better off you’ll be when trading in books yourself.

Problems with Trading Books for Money

While selling your books is a great way to make some cash, there are some problems or issues that can come up with trying to make it a full-time sales business.


One of the biggest problems when you sell used books is scalability. If you’re trying to trade in books as a sole business, it’s tough to make sure that you have enough inventory to trade while still making your personal life manageable at the same time (this can be especially true for new and single parents). So sometimes, the number doesn’t add up.

That being said – if this doesn’t bother you, then, by all means, keep pushing forward with what works best for you. The important thing is experimenting and finding something that does work by whatever route possible.

While I’m not going to say “don’t trade in books” because I think trade-ins are great — they just might not be right for everyone, so don’t feel bad about experimenting and trying new trade-in ideas.


Another trade-in issue is that it can be hard to find consistency — meaning you’re not consistent with the trade-in books.

This usually happens when people don’t know what they are doing or have no idea how to trade in books for money (which I totally get because there’s a lot of information out there, and you need some basic knowledge before starting).

So if this is happening, try reading up on trading used textbooks to understand more about trade values and where your market currently stands. It’ll help give you a better understanding of the value behind your items!


The trade-in business can be hard to enter into and expand if you don’t have a network or collection of interested people.

This means trade-ins may not always be the best option when it comes to making money because there’s such an intense focus on one thing, and it’ll take time for your trade-in customers like antique store owners or other likeminded traders) to find out about who you are, where they can buy from, where you can sell books, etc.

But with all this being said — building relationships is important no matter what kind of trade you get into, so go about building those networks and finding ways outside of trading books that will help build your brand as well!

The more knowledge (and connections!) you have, the more success you’ll have. And when you and the people you work with are all on the same page, so much the better, whether you’re the buyer who will buy books, the seller who worries about books being sold, or anything in between.


The trade-in business can be hard to do on a larger scale because of the low volume it creates.

This means that you don’t really have much capital coming in when trading books for money, and we all know how important cash flow is!

While this doesn’t mean trade-ins are bad, it just might not work out if you’re looking for something with quick profit potential. Instead, it’ll take more time — which may or may not bother you depending on your current situation.

So even though trade-ins aren’t always ideal from what I’ve seen so far, they still seem like a great way to make some extra cash while saving up for bigger purchases (or making those smaller ones) but as always – experiment and find what trade is best for you!

Books Online

Books trade for the most cash when they’re through online sellers.

It’s not too hard to trade in books or textbooks because you can trade them on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or any other retailer site that trades used items, but I would recommend using a third-party marketplace so you’ll get the best price possible!

The thing about trade-ins is they might require more time than cash flow upfront — this means that if you want something with quick profit potential, it may be better to go down another route (like flipping clothes) rather than selling your books.

For example, if your goal was to make $1,000 as soon as possible, then book trade-ins (like textbooks) might not work out very well because there isn’t much capital coming in at first. In this case, I would recommend something like filling out surveys, flipping products, or becoming a transcriber.

These jobs also allow you to get paid through check or PayPal.

Wrap Up

If you’ve been looking for a way to make some extra money on the side, trading in books might be your new favorite gig. While it may seem like just another book-selling service, there are lots of ways to earn cash by selling used books online or at local establishments.

The key is researching what works best for your area and experimenting with different strategies until you find one that takes off. Once you crack the code and figure out how to enter the right market, you’ll be a profitable buyer and seller of books.