All throughout college, I made quite a bit of money doing this. I would buy my text books and reading books on half.com or other cheap sites, use them for class (without marking them up) and then sell them online or to the on campus bookstore. The bookstore would actually pay about 2-3 times what I bought them for because they were used to selling at full price, paying about 25-30% buy back and re-selling again for a profit.
Swapping. OK, so it may not succeed in freeing up any additional shelf space, but there are plenty of opportunities online to trade your unwanted books for other titles you'd like to read. On most book swap websites, you get a credit for every book you send to someone else, which you can then redeem with other traders for the books you really want. Usually you just have to pay postage for the books you send, not the ones you receive. Popular sites include BookMooch.com, PaperBackSwap.com or TitleTrader.com. Or you could always hold an old-fashioned swap meet with your neighbors, friends and family.
When asked to share what new sellers should look for when scouting books. Lori replied, “The most important thing is to look to places where you can acquire books very cheaply. Fancy collector's editions are generally worth the trouble of selling if you pay the right price for them, but most of the time, they aren't worth what you might think. Unless you know for a fact that a book is worth money, be extremely cautious about overpaying. The same thing applies to first editions – I've acquired many firsts that only ended up being worth two or three dollars, so don't let that fool you unless you're familiar with a particular title.  Also, it's ironic, but in general, you want to avoid bestsellers. There are so many copies in existence that the used book markets are often flooded with them. I also tend to pick up books I've sold before – first, because I will already have a listing created, which saves me some time, and second, because I know it did sell, and believe me, there are plenty of books that don't. Finally, consider your marketplace and how you will be creating your listings. It takes me less time to list individual books in a series than it does totally separate titles, so I will tend to favor those when I'm buying in bulk.”
Rare and antique books are a specialist market within the general antiques and collectables trade. Their price is determined not just by a book’s condition but also by how other investment markets are doing. There are always investors with cash to splash even in times of recession. When interest rates are low, cash moves into other investment classes. The value of antiques and other “collectables” including books may rise as a result.
Hello-Great article and tips. I want to buy and sell books on Amazon full time. However, I am quite discouraged about a lot of places not wanting us to use our scanners in their stores. Also, I have heard the Amazon seller fees have become so much that it’s hard to make a profit. Is this true? Can you please expound on this? I would greatly appreciate it!
Both of our sellers were happy to share their favorite places to shop. Lori says, “Library book sales are my number one source. Often the prices are deeply discounted on the last day of the sale, and you can acquire a large number of books for not very much money – plus you can feel good about supporting the library. I also routinely check Craigslist, where people often sell books low-cost or give them away. You have to be careful going that route, though. A few times I've gone out of my way to pick up a free lot, only to find that the books have been stored in the basement and are hopelessly moldy.”
Though it may seem imprudent to be buying books for the purpose of research - that is, with no immediate intention of reselling them - it's actually the quickest and most cost effective way to gain the experience you'll need, assuming you don't overpay for individual titles. If you take the trouble to develop your instincts, you'll begin to get smarter with your purchases very quickly and also notice that you're putting together and adhering to a set of rules that you may not even have thought about consciously. It's these rules that will help you weed out the 99.9% of books that you don't want to waste your money buying.
Hello-Great article and tips. I want to buy and sell books on Amazon full time. However, I am quite discouraged about a lot of places not wanting us to use our scanners in their stores. Also, I have heard the Amazon seller fees have become so much that it’s hard to make a profit. Is this true? Can you please expound on this? I would greatly appreciate it!
Be honest about the condition of the book. If there are damaged corners or missing pages, say so. If someone has written in or highlighted huge portions of the book, make that known. If the book has remainder marks (an indication they've been returned to the publisher), mention that, too. Fudging on the condition won't get you more money. When the buyer receives your book and finds it lacking, they'll adjust their offer down, and may even reject your book completely.

Books are heavy items. Most buyers will expect to have their books delivered to them and you need to consider shipping and postage costs when you price your wares. Some websites have standard postal charge (e.g. Amazon). This may not cover the actual shipping costs. So make sure the book sale price is sufficient to cover your outgoings and make a profit for you. Some websites (e.g. eBay) allow you to determine what (if anything) you want to charge for shipping on top of the sale price. You may also be able to specify different costs for tracked delivery compared to standard delivery.


Hey Thomas – yeah it is an interesting idea. You are right that its not as passive as other ideas, but that’s okay. Not everything I am considering has to be passive. Perhaps its only feasible for the average person to build this to a $500 to $1000/mth business. However, maybe that is all someone is looking for. Overall, I agree with you though that it would be difficult (although not impossible) to build this into a full time business.
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