5 of the Best Places to Make Money Selling Used Books Online

woman looking at books

A woman shops for used books. | Tim Boyle/Getty Images

You’ve finally accepted you’re never going to read Ulysses, and your college biology textbook is no more than dead weight. It’s time to clear off your bookshelves. But don’t send those unwanted titles to Goodwill just yet. You might be able to make good money as you declutter.

If you’re looking to empty out the attic, thin 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.

Start with scouting sites

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. These websites show what different companies will offer you for a given book. But be advised these rates are constantly changing with the market. It would be wise to make your book-selling project a one-day mission.

Take a book, plug in the ISBN number to a couple of scouting sites, 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, TextbookRush, and Chegg. Most of these sites are hit or miss depending on the book. Also, scouting sites can be unreliable, so check the actual buyer sites to confirm their rates.

Many book-buyback services require a minimum dollar amount or number of books to process your shipment. Always review the condition guidelines and other rules before shipping your books. Scouting sites will point you to dozens of different book buyers. The following are four of the most popular.

Amazon

Amazon website

The Amazon.com homepage | Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images

  • Buyback minimum: None
  • How you get paid: Amazon gift card

The Amazon Marketplace is mysterious and ever-changing. And you might not be able to sell all the books on your shelf. (Certain textbooks and popular novels seem to be in higher demand.)

However, the books you can sell could add up to a decent amount of Amazon credit, which nearly anyone could find a use for. Your books must be in good condition — no water damage, marked pages, or damaged spines or covers. But unlike some websites, if Amazon rejects your book it will mail it back to you for free. Plus, there’s no minimum order, so it’s a good option if you have just a few books to sell.

AbeBooks

used book warehouse

A warehouse full of used books | Matt Cardy/Getty Images

  • Buyback minimum: $15
  • How you get paid: PayPal or check

You can set up a professional seller account on AbeBooks. But if you only have a few titles to unload, using its book-buyback service might be more convenient. The site (owned by Amazon) claims to have the largest online buyback catalog. It says it “can usually beat your local college bookstore on price.” But you’ll need to have at least $15 worth of books to sell, and they must be in good condition. If your old textbooks don’t meet AbeBooks’ standards, they’ll be recycled, and you won’t get a penny.

Powell’s Books

Powell's Books

Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon | Powell’s Books via Facebook

  • Buyback minimum: $9 or seven books
  • How you get paid: PayPal or store credit

Powell’s, a five-store chain in Portland, Oregon, claims to be “the world’s largest independent bookstore.” It stocks over 2 million volumes and will buy your used ones to keep its shelves full.

Be warned that Powell’s “buyers are very particular about condition,” according to its website. Don’t try to send them former library books; advance reader copies; books with tears, broken bindings, or highlighting; or hardcovers without a dust jacket. (Powell’s website has a visual guide to problems that will cause it to reject a title.) Rejected titles are donated or recycled.

If Powell’s buyers do accept your book, you’ll get a better price if you take store credit. But they’ll also pay via PayPal.

Textbooks.com

textbooks

Used textbooks on a shelf | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

  • Buyback minimum: $10
  • How you get paid: PayPal or check

Don’t let the name mislead you. Textbooks.com buys more than textbooks, so don’t discount it if you have paperbacks to sell. The site also sells used books directly to students and offers a “guaranteed cash back” option on some titles.

If you buy the book and sell it back at the end of the semester, you’ll get back half of what you paid, provided it’s still in good condition. Unlike some other sites, your books don’t need to be pristine — some writing and highlighting or creased pages are OK. (Water damage, broken spines, and other problems will still get your book rejected.)

Used bookstores and textbook sites aren’t the only way to clear out your library. If you have a lot of books to get rid of, you might want to bypass the middleman and sell directly to other book lovers. Read on to find out how.

Become a professional seller

used bookstore

A used bookstore | David Ramos/Getty Images

Used books are big business. Smart traders in textbooks can make a profit by buying them in the summer when prices are low and reselling them in the fall when textbooks are in high demand. Others make money trolling thrift shops with scanners and smartphone apps that tell them the going rate for a book in the Amazon Marketplace.

If you are interested in dealing in the used-book business, consider signing up for a professional seller account with AbeBooks or Amazon. Fees for AbeBooks’ professional sellers start at $25 per month plus commission. On Amazon, you can sell as a professional for $39.99 per month plus fees, or you can list books individually for 99 cents each.

Another option is eBay, where you can get 50 free listings per month. You’ll pay a 10% fee only after the item sells. If you have vintage books to sell (especially those without ISBNs), you can open an Etsy store and pay a listing fee of 20 cents per item, plus fees after sales. Vintage items on Etsy must be at least 20 years old.

Megan Elliott also contributed to this post.

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