How to Make Money Selling Your Used Books Online
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.
Selling Used Books: It's All About Supply and DemandClick thumbnail to view full-size
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
Books That Are Often Unacceptable
Books 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
International Edition Textbooks
Partial or incomplete book sets
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
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 web sites. You'll also avoid accidentally selling a book that's already been committed for sale to another web site.
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
What Is an ISBN?
Since the 1970s, each published book has received an ISBN, which stands for "International Standard Book Number." It is a 10 or 13-digit number that identifies a specific book title or edition.
Get Multiple Bids for Your Used Books On Bookscouter.com
Step 3: Compare Buyback Price Offers On Bookscouter.com
There are a 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 Book Scouter 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.
Tips for Selling Your Books Online
1) When you originally buy your books, avoid special copies and book club editions (like at Target). They may be unacceptable as buybacks.
2) Keep an inventory.
3) Open a PayPal account.
4) Take a photo of each book before mailing. Documenting its condition can help you with any disputes.
5) Follow all mailing instructions. Pack your books carefully, avoiding shoe boxes to mail books.
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 purchase amount of $20 that websites such as CKYbooks.com require in order to qualify for 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 purchase requirements. SellBackYourBook.com, for example, has a $7.50 minimum to qualify for free shipping.
Pack Your Books With CareClick thumbnail to view full-size
Step 4: Mail Your Books
Print Your Shipping Label
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 or 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 their 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. There is a tendency for shoe boxes to be flimsy and crushable when combined with larger boxes, potentially spilling contents during the shipping process. 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.
Step 5: 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.
Step 6: 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!
Other Ideas For What To Do With Your Used Books
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
Review of SellbackyourBook.com
I've used this website four times so far, selling over 20 books to them without a problem. They specialize in NY Times best sellers. 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.
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).
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!
Review of TextBookRush.com
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 which may be helpful for high volume sellers.
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 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.
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