Selling Your Used Books Online For $$$

Friday, December 3, 2010

Are you one of those people who donate used books to the public library, trades them in at a book exchange, or (gasp!) throws them away? If you answered yes to any of these options, then you may as well be flushing money down the toilet because even though these volumes of literature are no longer valuable to you, they could be netting you a tidy profit. While you certainly can’t secure cover price for a used book (unless it is old, rare, out of print, signed, or has some other added value), you can definitely try to get something for them, especially if they are popular. But how do you go about selling them?

The easiest way is to set up an eBay store and auction them off. Even if you set your minimum price at a dollar (plus shipping) you are bound to get a few nibbles. And just think, if you sell a dozen books for a few bucks apiece, you will have made some moola for doing practically nothing (especially now that you can print shipping labels online, saving you from even having to go down to the post office). Plus, all payments can be made through PayPal in order to negate the problems inherent to taking checks (additional mailing time, insufficient funds, etc.).

You could also try to sell them in bulk, again with an online auction or by posting an ad on Craig’s List. But you may be better served, if you have a high turnover of books, to set up a website. This way you can set your own prices, build up a customer list, and even become an affiliate to larger websites (like Amazon, for example) that will take a percentage of your profits (up to 20%) but bring you a lot more visibility in exchange.

Yet another option is to hook up with someone who will sell your items on consignment (or buy them outright). You may not make quite as much money this way, but the benefits are pretty obvious. Someone who is already established can take old books off your hands and since they are doing the selling, they will also often cover shipping (costs, labor, etc.). They may not pay you much, but considering the effort you will save, it may end up being more money in your pocket in the long run. And the hassle of setup is off your hands.

The great thing is, once you get going, you may find selling used books to be rather lucrative (enough so that you start picking up items from other places to fuel your business). In this day and age, with any item a person could possibly want just a click away, who is willing to pay full price for books anymore? Apparently some people are fool enough to do it since bookstores are still in business. But most people would rather pay less for a used item (which may be available soon after the full-price version). So if you’re an avid reader who wants to clear away some of the clutter, you can definitely use the internet to your advantage by selling your unwanted books online.

Kyle Simpson writes for Everyday Health where you can find answers to all of your health related questions including information on arthritis treatment and much more.


  1. I have to disagree that donating to the library is throwing money away. I buy almost all my books at the library for the wonderful price of .25 to 2.00, no shipping costs involved. In turn, I donate all my books to the library, to continue the cycle. If no one donates, I would have no books to buy. I love knowing that I am supporting my library when I buy these books and where else can you get such great prices.

  2. That is very true as well.
    Please note this is one person's opinion- our guest writer- and may not represent the views of others.
    Thank you for your comments.I used to get books at the library as well. I guess the writer is just trying to say if you want to make some money on the side, that you may wish to hang onto your books and try to sell them for some $$.


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