Many of us have loads of books on our shelves that go largely untouched. We pledge that someday we’ll read them, and then we pack them up in heavy boxes and haul them with us every time we move. Instead, why not lighten the load and make some easy money in the process?
Some people are in the business of buying and selling used books. When it comes to textbooks, smart traders can make a profit by buying them in the summer when prices are low, and then re-selling them in the fall when textbooks are in high demand. Others even succeed in making a living trolling thrift shops with laser scanners that tell them the going rate for a book in the Amazon Marketplace. These scanners can even be equipped with apps so that traders can create a custom algorithm, instantly notifying them of whether a book is worth buying to re-sell.
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 AbeBooks and/or Amazon. 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.
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.
But for those who are just looking to empty out the attic, thin out a book collection, or make some easy money, there are countless options for online selling. Here are your best bets for selling your unwanted used books online.
Scouting sites are an excellent tool if you want to find the best buyback price quotes across several sites with one click. BookScouter.com and BookFinder.com are two good ones to start with, and there are many others. These websites show what different companies will offer you for a given book, but be advised that these rates are constantly changing with the market. It would be wise to make your book-selling project a one-day mission.
One by one, take a book, plug in the ISBN number to a couple of scouting sites, as well as the sites below, and label the book with the best prices on a sticky note before you make your final counts. These scouting sites might direct you to sell your books with dealers such as ValoreBooks and Chegg. Most of these sites are hit or miss depending on the book.
TextbookRush tends to accept quite a few titles that others don’t, but often for only $0.10. Think about whether this is worth the effort. You may want to make a rule only to sell a book for a dollar or more, and then donate the rest. Also, be aware that scouting sites can be unreliable, so check the actual buyer sites as well to confirm their rates.
Many used book buyback services require a minimum dollar amount or number of books to process your shipment. See the full list of condition guidelines and rules for all services via their websites.
The Amazon Marketplace is mysterious and ever-changing, so you may be surprised at how few titles are available for trade-in. However, the few you can sell could add up to a decent amount of Amazon credit, which nearly anyone could find a use for. If Amazon decides to reject your book on the basis of condition, it will mail it back to you for free.
- Minimum: None
- Payment type: Amazon gift card
- Shipping: Free via USPS
Abe’s frequently offers good prices via its buyback service, particularly for textbooks. Just watch out for the high minimum bid and know that if any of your books aren’t eligible, they will be recycled.
- Minimum: $15
- Payment type: PayPal or check
- Shipping: Free via FedEx or USPS
Powell’s, a chain of independent bookstores in Portland, Ore., often pays quite well for used books online, but it is a stickler for condition and does not return rejected books. Powell’s does not accept ex-library books, books with rips or taped pages, or books with notes or highlighting. It would be worthwhile to read the full condition guidelines. If you take the virtual store credit, you’ll get a better price, but Powell’s will also pay promptly through PayPal.
- Minimum: $5 or 3 books
- Payment: PayPal or store credit
- Shipping: Free via USPS
Despite its name, Textbooks.com does not only accept textbooks, so don’t discount it, even for paperbacks. It could be the service that takes several of your books that no one else will. Textbooks.com may even offer you a superior bid here and there.
- Minimum: $10
- Payment: PayPal or check
- Shipping: Free via UPS