How to Sell Your Old Books Online for Cash
Dear Rich Lifer,
In the early days of Amazon, a bell would ring in the office every time someone made a purchase. Employees would gather around to see if they knew the customer.
After a few weeks of this, the bell was ringing so often they had to turn it off. That first month, Amazon sold books to people in all 50 states and in 45 different countries.
What started as a modest online bookstore has grown into the third largest brand in the world.
What does this have to do with you selling your old books?
A lot of people go to Amazon to buy books, but many people forget you can sell your used books through Amazon’s marketplace.
If you’re like us, you probably have a lot of books lying around your house that you’re never going to read again. If you prefer donating your books, local thrift stores, schools, and homeless shelters are great places to start.
But, if you’d like to make a little bit of extra cash, you can always try to resell your old books online.
In the past, if you wanted to sell books, you’d have to take them to a used bookstore or auction them off on eBay.
While you can still sell books this way, there are a few more options that make selling your old books easier than ever before.
The first place we recommend you start is on bookscouter.com. Plug in your book’s ISBN number — found on the back of the book on top of the barcode — and click search.
Bookscouter.com searches 30+ online book vendors to find you the best offers for your book. There’s even a free mobile app you can download that makes the process faster.
The app is great when you’re out shopping at thrift stores, yard sales, or estate sales. In a few seconds, you can scan ISBN barcodes of several different books to find out how much you could resell a particular book for and whether you’d make a profit.
The app also has a price history tool so you know exactly what a particular book has sold for in the past. And the best part about bookscouter.com is shipping is free.
The “Everything Store”
As we said before, Amazon began as an online bookstore. Now, you can buy pretty much anything you want on the platform. But buying and selling books remains a staple of the behemoth.
Here’s how you can sell your old books on Amazon:
First, you’ll have to create an Amazon seller account. Amazon offers two different seller plans:
The Individual Plan: This costs $0.99 per unit sold, and it’s best for people selling fewer than 40 units a month.
The Professional Plan: This costs $39.99 per month and is best for people selling more than 40 units a month who also want to advertise.
Amazon will also ask you where you want to sell your products. There are several different countries to choose from, but you’ll want to stick to selling in North America since it’s the biggest market.
Next you’ll choose a fulfillment method. Amazon offers two ways to fulfill customer orders:
Fulfillment by Seller (FBS): You’ll pack and ship every book that someone orders from you.
Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA): You’ll ship all your books to Amazon, and when an order is placed, Amazon handles the packaging and shipping.
There are pros and cons to both methods so you’ll have to weigh these for yourself.
Since you’re tapping into Amazon’s marketplace, every book you sell Amazon will take a cut. Which is a percentage of the total price — including item price, shipping cost, and any gift-wrapping charges — or a minimum amount, whichever is greater.
For books, the referral fee is 15% in addition to a $1.80 closing fee. You’ll pay that in addition to the selling plan fees.
Check out Amazon’s FAQ section on Seller Central for more details on referral fees and selling plan fees.
The bottom line: Amazon is a massive marketplace with tons of people searching for books every day. Once you’re set up as a seller, you can quickly list and sell your used books in a matter of minutes. Just be honest with the condition your books are in so you avoid returns and bad reviews.
Not a lot of people know that AbeBooks.com is owned by Amazon. AbeBooks is a global marketplace for used books, fine art and collectibles. You’ll often find books selling for $2-5 on the site.
How can that be profitable?
If you decide to sell through AbeBooks, you’re responsible for setting up your product listings, storing inventory and shipping items. But you also get to set your own shipping rates and speeds.
Often you’ll see books with a list price of $1-2 and $10-13 shipping.
How AbeBooks works:
The first step to selling through AbeBooks is choosing your account. A professional seller account will run you $25 a month.
If you plan to sell only a few books, the Book Buyback section is where you should go. Depending on the books you sell, you’ll have two choices of partner websites to work with through the Book Buyback section: Ziffit or TextbookRush.
Ziffit has a minimum $15 total item value for every trade in. All books must meet the following standards:
Have an ISBN number that matches the ISBN you submitted.
Include all original supplements (such as CDs) and its dust jacket (if it had one).
Has a cover free from heavy damage and no water damage at all.
Has all pages intact with no writing, annotation or discoloration.
Once your books have been valued and you’ve reached the $15 minimum, click “complete the trade” and you’ll be given the information you need to package and send your items securely.
Neither Ziffit or TextbookRush require you to pay for postage. Every book buyback gets a free trackable FedEx shipping label.
Other important tips:
Always keep your shipping receipt. Keep it as proof so you can use it at the nearest FedEx drop-off counter.
Sell frequently. Ziffit payments are scheduled on a weekly basis, so if you want a steady stream of extra income, then sell as often as you can.
Download the app. Similar to BookScouter’s app, with the Ziffit app, you can quickly scan your books’ barcodes instead of having to type out the ISBN every time.
Some books are worth keeping to re-read every so often. But most books you own can probably go without you missing them. Give one or all three of these platforms a try to resell your old books and turn a small profit.
To a richer life,
The Rich Life Roadmap Team