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How to Make Money Selling Used Books Online

If you have a collection of used books sitting on your shelves gathering dust, think of turning them into cash by selling them online. It is without saying, selling used books has become much easier presently with the rise of e-commerce platforms and online marketplaces Here is a step-by-step guide on how to sell used books online and make money

Second-hand books are abundant. You can earn handsome money by selling those books. From a professional point of view, you can also do it by buying books at a cheaper rate and selling them at a higher rate.

If you do decide to sell textbooks for cash, there are a couple of things you need to remember:

12 Steps to Sell Used Books and Earn Money

1. Decide on What Types of Books to Sell?

The very first step before starting an online used-book-selling business is to decide on the kind of books you are going to trade. There are broadly four types of books that are in good demand around the year. They are the following:

  • Textbooks
  • Modern First Edition Books
  • Out-0f-Print or Not Easily Available Books
  • Antique Books

Select the ones that fit you best. For beginners, it is advised to start with a specific category and then expand the collection when money starts coming in.

Read: Profitable Book-Related Business Ideas

3. Find Sources for Buying Used Books

The next step is to find reliable sources from where you can buy those books. Some of the popular places to buy used books are family friends and relatives, thrift stores, garage sales, Craiglist, and online book-selling websites.

4. Gather Your Inventory

You are advised to start by going through your book collection and selecting the books you want to sell. Sort them by genre, condition, and value. Also, consider factors like popularity, demand, and condition when deciding which books to sell.

5. Check the Condition of the Book

Be sure to check the condition of the book before buying it. Most buyback companies expect a little wear and tear, but if there are ripped pages or severe damage to the cover, they probably won’t accept your book.

6. Give Importance in Packing

Pack your books carefully. Most buyback companies will give you a prepaid shipping label, but you are responsible for your own packaging. If the books are damaged during transit, you’ll have to eat the loss.

7. Select Payment Methods

Be careful about payment processes. If you are offered the choice of a Paypal payment or a check payment, keep in mind that if you choose Paypal, you will need to deduct those fees from your profit margin.

8. Research the Demand

The profit margin is simply huge. You will find a variety of paid apps that allow booksellers to scan a barcode by using the phone’s camera. It helps you in getting instant results as to the book’s value, sales rank, and more.

Read: How to Start a Bookstore Business

9. Fix Proper Pricing

There are many sites that buy used textbooks. The prices that this site offers vary widely, though. In some cases, one site may buy a book for one or two dollars while another site might offer $20.00.

Determine the value of your used books to set appropriate prices. You must research the current market value by checking online marketplaces, bookstores, and auction sites. In addition, consider factors such as edition, condition, rarity, and demand when determining the price.

Obviously, it is worth looking around to make sure that you are getting the most money for your used books.

10. Where to Sell Used Books

If you are interested in dealing in the used book business on a semi-regular basis, whether it becomes your living or a steady hobby, you might consider signing up for a professional seller account with  BookScouter, Half Price Books, AbeBooks, and/or Amazon.

Find below the list of the top 12 places to sell used books online and mean money: 


Abe’s professional sellers pay $25 per month plus fees, and on Amazon, you can sell as a professional for $40 per month plus fees or sell as an individual for $0.99 per sale plus fees.

Read: Best Websites to Publish eBooks for Free

Another option is eBay, where you can get 10 free listings per month plus fees (about 10%) after an item sells. If you have vintage books to sell, you can open an Etsy store and pay a listing fee of $0.20 per item plus fees after sales.

This is a great option for pre-ISBN books as well. Vintage items on Etsy must be at least 20 years old.

Suggested ReadHow to Start a Book Review Blog

11. Ship Promptly and Safely

When you receive an order, pack the book securely to prevent damage during transit. Use appropriate packaging materials like bubble wrap or padded envelopes. You must ensure to ship the books promptly and provide tracking information to buyers.

12. Be Patient

The key to success in the used-book-selling business is to remain patient and committed to extensive research in understanding the trends and demand from customers. A lot of people are making good money selling used books.  As a matter of fact, the used book industry is a multi-million dollar industry and is expected to grow in the coming years.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I determine the value of my used books?

You need to research the current market value by checking online marketplaces, bookstores, and auction sites. In addition, consider factors like edition, condition, rarity, and demand.

Can I sell books that are in poor condition?

Though it is possible to sell books in poor condition, you are expected to get less value. You must be transparent about the condition when listing and adjust the price accordingly.

How should I handle returns or refunds?

You are strongly advised to set clear return and refund policies and communicate them to buyers. Also, address any issues promptly and provide a solution that satisfies both parties.

Should I specialize in a specific genre or category of books?

Yes, specializing in a specific genre or category can help you attract a targeted audience and establish yourself as an expert. However, diversifying your inventory can also attract a wider range of buyers.