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How to Make Money Selling Your Used Books Online

FlourishAnyway is an Industrial/Organizational psychologist committed to uplifting and educating others to be reach their full potential.

Don't let your used books sit and gather dust.  Declutter and make money by selling your quality used books online. Here's how.

Don't let your used books sit and gather dust. Declutter and make money by selling your quality used books online. Here's how.

Trade Your Books For Money On-Line: Cash, Moolah, Dinero

I really should use the library more, but the problem is this: I covet hot-off-the press New York Times best sellers — nice, shiny new books with crisp pages that no one but me has touched before. Because I buy them from Amazon with my credit card reward points they even feel free. Or "free-ish." (Hey, no judgment!)

But that creates the dilemma of with what to do with them once I've read them. I lend the good ones with one or two people I know. Then the books just sit. As they collect dust, I move on to the next new thing. Shouldn't I be getting a better return on my investment?

I've recently entered the world of selling my used books on line, and I love it. Here's how you can join me in unloading your gently used books for cash.

Step 1: Gather Used Books for Resale

Selling used books online won't make you rich, but you can at least earn money for ... more books, right? It also reduces clutter and is an efficient means of recycling. If you're part of a charitable organization or school, selling used books online is an excellent fundraiser since there is power — and profit — in numbers.

Gather up all of your gently used best selling novels and recent textbooks, hard cover business books, and instructional books. Add SAT/ACT and Advanced Placement (AP) preparation materials and all those self-help books you no longer need. Get the word out to friends, relatives, coworkers, and people in your book club that you'd appreciate their used books. I've found that people are often more than happy to unload them.

"If you're part of a charitable organization or school, selling used books online is an excellent fundraiser since there is power — and profit — in numbers."

— FlourishAnyway

Make Sure Your Used Books Are Acceptable

Each website will specify the types of books that are unacceptable. Always read the terms and conditions before mailing your books, as they usually cannot be returned to you.

Books That Are Often UnacceptableBooks That Are Often Unacceptable

Books that are heavily highlighted or written in

Items without an ISBN printed on the book

Books with significant wear and tear

Items that are sexually explicit and/or offensive

Instructor Edition Textbooks

Rebound books

International Edition Textbooks

Partial or incomplete book sets

Teacher's Editions

Custom print books (e.g., for a particular college)

Books marked Advanced Readers Copy (ARC), free copy, sample copy, review copy, examination copy, complimentary copy

Books with stand-alone access codes that have already been used

Study guides with filled in answers

 

Don't let your page turners gather dust

Don't let your page turners gather dust

Step 2: Inventory Your Stash of Books

Create An Inventory Spreadsheet

I use an Excel spreadsheet to track my books. Avoid the temptation to skip this step.

Create an inventory of all of your sellable used books. This allows you to keep track of

  • books you have on hand
  • their ISBN numbers
  • where you've sold each book
  • when you mailed the books
  • when you received payment and
  • the price both offered and received.

The more books you have, the more important it is to keep an electronic inventory. Having an electronic record of books' ISBNs will save you the hassle of re-entering the ISBN into multiple websites. You'll also avoid accidentally selling a book that's already been committed for sale to another website.

Assess the Condition of Your Books

As you create your inventory, check the condition of your books to ensure they are gently used. Books that are highlighted, written in or which show significant wear and tear will either be rejected by sellers or the purchase price will be discounted. I find that such books are typically not worth the effort.

Experience has taught me to take a quick photo of each book to document its condition. These can help you in the unlikely event of disputes about the book's condition.

The Condition of Your Used Books Is Important

If your books show significant wear and tear, they may not be acceptable to used book buyers.

If your books show significant wear and tear, they may not be acceptable to used book buyers.

Quickly Obtain Multiple Bids for Your Used Books On Bookscouter.com

By using Bookscouter.com, you can get multiple bids on your used books.

By using Bookscouter.com, you can get multiple bids on your used books.

Scroll to Continue

Step 3: Compare Buyback Price Offers On Bookscouter.com

There are dozens of separate websites that exist for selling your used books online. They vary—sometimes substantially—in:

  • the prices they're willing to pay for your books
  • the types of books they prefer (e.g., novels vs. textbooks)
  • shipping policies (e.g., free vs. flat rate, what postal carrier they use)
  • the minimum purchase amount to qualify for free shipping (e.g., as low as $7.50 worth of books to as high as $20)
  • terms of payment (i.e., whether you'll be paid via check, PayPal, a gift card, or credit towards future purchases) and
  • customer service, including the speed of processing and responsiveness to your inquiries.

I use Bookscouter.com because this website conveniently consolidates as many as 40 separate websites, including Amazon.com. Enter the ISBN and you'll see purchase prices that various book-buying websites are currently offering. Prices on recent books commonly range from nothing to several dollars. Click "SELL" to visit the website and gather details on the terms and conditions of sale.

Cats make perfect book buddies.

Cats make perfect book buddies.

Step 4: Select Your Best Offer

Select the offer that is best for you. Your choice may not always be the highest dollar amount offered, however. I've found it challenging to reach the minimum sellback amount of $20 that websites such as CKYbooks.com require in order to qualify for their free shipping.

Prices offered are based on supply and demand, so as your books get older, the prices can drop substantially. For this reason, I now prefer to sell the book back as soon as I'm done with it. I also prefer sites with low minimum sellback requirements. SellBackYourBook.com, for example, has a $7.50 minimum to qualify for free shipping.

Step 5: Mail Your Books

Each website has specific instructions for mailing. Provided that you've qualified for free shipping, you'll have immediate access to a pre-paid shipping label and an invoice/inventory list to include in your package of books for mailing. Print these documents. Sites vary as to whether they use UPS, the U.S. Postal Service or FedEx as the shipping carrier.

Find A Sturdy Box

Find an appropriate heavy duty cardboard box for mailing. I've even used a large Bisquick box for shipping because it was sturdy and my books fit the container well. Note that FedEx does not accept items mailed in shoe boxes. If there are old labels on your box or hazardous materials stickers on your box, remove them.

Pack Your Books Carefully

Lay books flat in the box to avoid unnecessary wear and tear during transit. Use packaging material to position them in the box so they won't move. If you can shake the box and hear the books jostling, add more packaging material. There's no need to get fancy. For example, I've used cardboard toilet paper rolls, wadded up paper grocery bags and newspaper, recycled bubble wrap, and even plastic egg cartons as filler to ensure my books wouldn't move during shipping.

Add Your Invoice and Tape the Box Well

Next, add your printed shipping invoice and tape your box securely using heavy duty packaging tape. I prefer to over-tape the box, paying special attention to the seams of the box and its corners. In case of inclement weather, water should not be able to easily seep in. Additionally, ensure that the shipping label is fastened so that it won't rip off during transit.

There's no need to get fancy.  I've even used a Bisquick box for shipping.  Recycle as much as you can by using what you have.

There's no need to get fancy. I've even used a Bisquick box for shipping. Recycle as much as you can by using what you have.

Step 6: Wait to Get Paid

It typically takes up to two weeks for the book buyer to receive your books via FedEx, UPS or the U.S. Postal Service and to process them for payment. Some sites provide email updates to confirm that they've received your books, but you can also track shipment via the shipping carrier if you request a drop off receipt from the shipping carrier.

They'll also let you know about any deviations from your shipping invoice (e.g., books that are missing, damaged during shipment, or which are rejected for payment) and when they are issuing payment.

Allow up to two weeks for the book buyer to receive your books via FedEx, UPS or the U.S. Postal Service and to process them for payment.

Allow up to two weeks for the book buyer to receive your books via FedEx, UPS or the U.S. Postal Service and to process them for payment.

Step 7: Decide What To Do With Unsellable Books

Not all books receive buyback offers, so unfortunately, you won't be able to sell all of your used books. Or, the value of the offer may be so low that you prefer to do something else with your book rather than virtually give it away to a for-profit company.

I've received non-zero offers for as low as $.04. Sorry, but I'd rather give the book to a charity that can use it! Below are some alternate ideas for how to dispose of your unwanted books. Rather than let them gather dust, let someone else enjoy them!

This curious cat asks, "What will you do with books you cannot sell?"

This curious cat asks, "What will you do with books you cannot sell?"

Other Ideas For What To Do With Your Used Books

Always check with a charity or organization to ensure your donation is welcome. And ask a 501(c)(3) organization for a receipt for tax write-off purposes.

donate them to your local library or Friends of the Library group

sell your books at a yard sale or Half.com

donate them to the Adult Education/GED to encourage adults learning to read

donate age appropriate books to your local public schools, the YMCA or to day care centers

offer them to a local hospital as "free books" for their surgical waiting area

pass them on to a friend or swap them on Swap.com for games, movies, or other books

donate them to a charity thrift shop, church or shelter

arrange with a local veterinarian to set up a shelf of books for donations to the local animal shelter

hollow out a hardcover book to keep secret treasures inside (or make other crafts using books)

SellbackyourBook.com Is My Favorite Book Buyback Site So Far

This book buyback website offers prompt payment, courteous customer service, and a low minimum buyback to qualify for free shipping.  However, they may not always be the highest bidder on your used books.

This book buyback website offers prompt payment, courteous customer service, and a low minimum buyback to qualify for free shipping. However, they may not always be the highest bidder on your used books.

Review of SellbackyourBook.com

Positive Factors

I've used this website four times so far, selling over 100 books to them without a problem. They specialize in NY Times bestsellers. I particularly like that they require only a $7.50 minimum in book buybacks to qualify for their free shipping. Packages ship via FedEx or the U.S. Postal Service. I received the prices quoted for my books and in each case was paid within 10-14 days of shipping the item.

The website issues payment via check or Paypal, and the email address you use to create your account is assumed to be the same one you want to be paid through. This wasn't the case for me, but the issue was resolved quickly via email. There was good communication throughout the process to notify me that my books were received and where they are in process.

Negative Factors

Negatives included two factors. First, they won't take multiple copies of books without advance approval. Second, in spite of their claim that they pay "premium pricing for all of the books currently listed on the NY Times Best Seller List" and their "Get most of the price you paid back!" claims, I personally found that prices they offered on some books were low (e.g., $0.11).

Recommendation

Overall, I recommend this site based primarily on the promptness of payment, customer service, and especially the low $7.50 requirement to qualify for free shipping. I look forward to continuing business with them.

TextBookRush.com: No, Thanks!

Quick payment didn't compensate for negative factors of customer unresponsiveness,  failure to pay the quoted price on some items, and spammy emails.

Quick payment didn't compensate for negative factors of customer unresponsiveness, failure to pay the quoted price on some items, and spammy emails.

Review of TextBookRush.com

Positive Factors

TextBookRush.com touts itself as "your online campus bookstore," and the site specializes in textbooks. However, I was able to sell used popular fiction books to them.

The website pays via check, PayPal or store credit, and they use both FedEx or the U.S. Postal Service. I received payment for my items only 9 days after they were mailed—particularly fast since the time lapse included a big holiday weekend. The website advertises an app that may be helpful for high volume sellers.

Negative Factors

Although the TextBookRush.com website advertises that they pay "top dollar for your used books," some of their offers for my books were as low as $0.10. There is also a $15 book buyback minimum. Extensive instructions for how to "correctly" pack and ship your books gave me the impression that they were overly picky.

In addition, several of the books that I mailed were unpaid/the price was discounted substantially. Allegedly they were not the desired edition, even though I entered the ISBN exactly as it appeared on the back of the book. Unfortunately, it was my loss, as these books were supposedly discarded rather than returned to me.

The website provides the following disclaimers, and some of the on-line feedback that I read makes me wonder whether they are commonly used loopholes:

  • "Please note that the prices offered are a quote and are subject to change if the information provided differs from what is received."
  • "TextbookRush will grade the books we receive in the condition received and make any necessary adjustments to the amount paid."

Emails to their customer service requesting additional information about their refusal to pay me the quoted price were ignored. The website has also sent me frequent spammy emails trying to entice me to sell additional books, games, and electronic equipment.

Recommendation

I cannot recommend this site based on

  • the poor customer responsiveness I received
  • their failure to pay the quoted price on some items
  • and those annoying spammy emails to send more books.

Unfortunately, fast payment didn't compensate for these negatives.

© 2016 FlourishAnyway

Comments

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 20, 2020:

MG - The library is great.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on September 19, 2020:

Nice article, but personally I don't buy used books and prefer the library. Maybe I could try what you have done.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 19, 2020:

Peggy - Especially during the pandemic I've been reading and buying books for the teens in my life. Then I turn around and sell them back after family members have read them. Thanks for stopping by, and have a good weekend.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 18, 2020:

I still give my books to friends or charities, but this is good information to know. It is particularly helpful to know that free shipping is offered if the minimum requirement is met. Using items like empty egg cartons to keep the books from shifting in the package is smart!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on May 23, 2020:

Carrie - Good luck. I regularly sell my cast-off books and donate the ones that get rejected. Sometimes the ones they don't want now they will want later, even if it's just for a low amount. It can be a seasonal thing with some titles.

Carrie Lee Night from Northeast United States on May 23, 2020:

Thank you for sharing :) This was a very comphrensive hub :) Selling used stuff is an interest of mine :)

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 16, 2018:

Margie - The key is nott to keep them too long! I read books once then I'm done. I'm not the type to re-read something ever. That's what the internet is for! and I certainly don't want it cluttering up my house. Best of luck!

Margie's Southern Kitchen from the USA on March 16, 2018:

I have lots of books to sell, but my hubby thinks they are worth more than they will pay, most they do not want! I have tried some you listed, I am going to bookmark your article so I can have it for a reference. Thanks for awesome information!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 06, 2017:

K@ri - You probably could have done better on-line, depending on the age of the books. Sometimes there's no market for older books so the second hand dealership would be an excellent place to offload those. Thanks for reading!

Kari Poulsen from Ohio on September 06, 2017:

I need to look into this. I also prefer to buy books. I do re-read some books and have to keep them on hand at all times, lol, but many I could sell back. I recently sold a boat load of books to a second hand dealership in town. I bet I could have done better on-line. Thanks for the tip!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 17, 2017:

Ryan - My local library could build a new wing with the late fees I've paid, so I switched strategies am and now purchasing them, loaning, then reselling. I also have a thing about library books or other publicly shared items that have been through lots of dirty hands (e.g., Netflix DVDs). Ewww, the germs. Thanks for stopping by. With all the reading that you do, you should consider some book review hubs.

Ryan from Louisiana, USA on July 17, 2017:

I too love to read and have many used books. I normally sell that at garage sales or trade them for different books. I would join the library but I hate the pressure of having to return the book. Some books I keep for my collections. Thanks for the great ideas and advice.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 17, 2017:

Demas - That's such a kind compliment. You have made my day. Hope you are doing well and have a terrific week!

Demas W Jasper from Today's America and The World Beyond on July 17, 2017:

This sure doesn't look like the Hub you described as "a lonely Hub" just 12 months ago! Perhaps summer is not such a slow season for Hubs after all. This was indeed a comprehensive Hub, and anyone coming to learn about the topic received your reward!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 16, 2017:

Alun - You might consider donating some of those more useful textbooks to some of the other resources listed. It's a liberating feeling to clean things out and make room for new books!

Greensleeves Hubs from Essex, UK on July 16, 2017:

Very comprehensive coverage and clear advice Flourish, with some helpful illustrations to accompany it. I'm sure many people could use this advice to clear space and make a little money on the side too.

I have lots of old books because I'm a terrible hoarder, but unfortunately most of mine are not exactly in A1 condition and most are text books in which much of the information is now out of date (as I write this, I still have a Windows95 book above my computer!) Having said that, some of my books are so old maybe the info in them will now have a curiosity value for readers!

Nonetheless as I say, good information and a good idea for those who have no further use for their old books. Alun

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on August 21, 2016:

Norma - Although you're not going to get rich this way, it's better to offload them to a source who can use them than to have them gather dust. Best of luck.

Norma Lawrence from California on August 21, 2016:

Fabulous article full of great information. The pictures are also great. I never thought of selling my old books on line. Great idea. Thanks

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 21, 2016:

Happymommy2520 - I've found that one of the keys is not to let them get too stale. Best of luck in selling! Thanks for reading and pinning!

Amy from East Coast on July 21, 2016:

I am going to check out Sellbackyourbook.com. We have a ton of best selling books sitting in our basement. I was going to sell them at our next yard sale but I am going to try your method first. This was a very informative article. I like the way you were honest and to the point. I am going to Pin this one!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on June 29, 2016:

Demas - It's a lonely hub, but thanks for reading it! Have a great week!

Demas W Jasper from Today's America and The World Beyond on June 29, 2016:

Setting up the system is the time consumer. Then it's open season on clearing enough shelves to keep the dust cloths busy. You had a pretty good response to this Hub. How many Views has it had so far? All the best, D.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 30, 2016:

Shyron - I appreciate your stopping by! Have a wonderful rest of the week!

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on March 29, 2016: