In our recent post about becoming an Amazon FBA seller, it was brought to my attention how lucrative selling used books on Amazon – and elsewhere – can be. It's also a great flexible gig for those looking to do something part-time or just on the weekends. Today we are focusing solely on that topic: how to sell used books for extra cash. And, we have two successful sellers stopping by to share their tips.
For a couple of years, I purchased books at one franchise with a local store which would discount new books to as low as 47 cents each. I would purchase a shopping cart load, resell the more valuable books on Amazon, donate certain needed titles to a university library being developed elsewhere, and trade in the majority of the others at Hastings Entertainment.
Take a book, plug in the ISBN number to a couple of scouting sites, and label the book with the best prices on a sticky note before you make your final counts. These scouting sites might direct you to sell your books with dealers, such as ValoreBooks, TextbookRush, and Chegg. Most of these sites are hit or miss depending on the book. Also, scouting sites can be unreliable, so check the actual buyer sites to confirm their rates.
Great article. I’ve scanned all of my books at home and found that the vast majority of them have a high BSR. What should I do with those books? Should I sell them to a used book store or hold on to them and ship them FBM to avoid FBA storage fees? Also, how sustainable is it to sell used books? Can you find enough book deals to make a decent income?
You can set up a professional seller account on AbeBooks. But if you only have a few titles to unload, using its book-buyback service might be more convenient. The site (owned by Amazon) claims to have the largest online buyback catalog. It says it “can usually beat your local college bookstore on price.” But you’ll need to have at least $15 worth of books to sell, and they must be in good condition. If your old textbooks don’t meet AbeBooks’ standards, they’ll be recycled, and you won’t get a penny.
When I was doing FBM, I was spending about 3-4 hours per night. Once I switch to FBA that went down to 3-4 hours per week, most of which was spending time finding deals on wholesale books and listing the books on Amazon. I was working full time for most of that time, so I could only do so much with the book selling, but still made about $1000/month profit doing it as a side hustle. When I switched to OA, it got a lot easier, as I just created a list of “hot finds” and would look around for deals on those. It’s surprising how bad people are at pricing things on Ebay–of course, that’s a double edged sword, as they’re also terrible at getting the conditions right, so I end up spending a lot of time arguing over books with writing inside, stains, smells-like-smoke, etc.
Next, I researched other methods of selling books. I had a roomful of used books stacked up everywhere, a lot invested, and a strong desire to get some of my money back. I found that you could resell them by comparing prices online from one bookstore to another, but the returns were pathetic. Pennies on the dollar. If you sell to bookstores, they buy them from you wholesale and resell them retail. They make money, but there’s no room in there for you to make a profit.
I like to start with BookScouter.com. BookScouter says they’re just for textbook buyback, but I’ve had some good luck checking prices of regular trade books. Book Scouter will tell you what websites will currently pay for each book you’re trying to sell. This will give you a good idea of whether or not it’s even worth selling your books. Remember, all of these websites pay based on what they think they can sell book for, so books with higher demand will sell for more.