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How to make money Flipping books

Updated on May 26, 2016

Introduction: Who am I and why should you listen to me?

As a broke college student I'm always finding new ways to make some extra cash. A few months ago, an article introduced me to flipping books for profit. With a very small amount of investment and no knowledge on how to do it, I started buying and selling books to see if I could turn a small lump of cash into something more respectable. After a lot of mistakes and losing time and money I have reached a profitable system to make real money flipping books.

Looking back at when I started I realize that I knew very little of what I was doing. There were small little things here and there that would end up ruining that flip. Over time I have learned a few things that I would like to share with everyone else so that you can avoid the same mistakes I have made in the past.

What is flipping books?

Flipping a book is like trading stocks. You buy low and sell high, it’s as simple as that. Books, like stocks, change prices over the course of time. Companies buy books from other retailers in bulk and hold onto them until the school year kicks in and students needs them. They then jack up the prices to what they believe is fair and what a student will pay. Now every company isn’t the same so their price points for selling and buying a book are different. This is where we make our money.

You buy a book at a low price and sell it to another company for a higher price and in turn make a profit. The good part of this is that you’re selling it to a company that’s just waiting to buy your book. You’re not selling it to the consumer. This makes it an almost risk free investment. Sometimes the margins are thin, ($2-$5) sometimes they are pretty big($40-$60). We are all obviously interested in the big margins, but there are some very small things that can make you lose money which is why I decided to write a all inclusive guide.

Real life example

This is a flip I did earlier this year. I'm sharing this because people love to ask for real examples and want to see real numbers so here goes.

Ordered the book on 1/25/2016

Book arrived on 1/29/2016 which was 4 days later

I bought the book from AbeBooks for $39.8

I Sold it to Chegg for $106.64

I sold the book and shipped it the same day

I received payment from Chegg on 2/3/2016

Profit made : $66.84

Whole thing took 9 days, I spent about 2 hours in total. This includes looking for the flip, buying it, packaging it and taking it to the post office

Basically made $33.42/hour sitting on a laptop

Things you will need

Access to a Computer

Smartphone - this isn’t necessary but it makes things easier

A Spreadsheet for accounting - just makes life easier

Access to a printer

Paypal account - if you don’t have one sign up right here

A bank account

A debit or credit card

A roll of clear tape

Box Cutter

Most Importantly an account with Flippiness

What is Flippiness?

Flippiness is website that gives you all the information you need to flip a book. Basically it tells you where to buy a book and at the same time tells you where to sell it.

It's literally the EASIEST way to flip books there is online. You don't have to sit around for hours punching in ISBN numbers all over the place all day. Flippiness will give you ALL the information you need all on one platform.

The fine print here is that Flippiness does require a certain fee upfront to use their service. Regardless it’s not an expensive venture and you can make a decent profit over time.

Currently they have 5 subscription options:

Bronze - This costs $25 a month and they give you information for flips that will make no more than $5 - essentially you’re looking at about 5 flips before you start turning a profit every month. You also get access to their forum with this.

Silver - This costs $50 a month and they give you the flips which make no more than $20 per flip. So you need about 2-3 flips to break even. With the silver tier you will get advanced filtering and sorting, which means you can do a simple search for the most profitable flips and you also get e-mail support from Flippiness.

Gold - This costs $100 a month and you’re given the flips that make the highest profit. But you’re already $100 in the hole when you start and with my experience the books tend to be upwards of $40 dollars so you’ll turn a profit for sure but as a beginner you want to know what you’re doing before you get to this tier. With this tier you get a personalized e-mail everyday with the most profitable flips, you get personal access to the Flippiness team and they prioritize your e-mails over everyone else.

If a month is too long of a commitment for you, they also have a Gold Subscription for 1 Day which is $25 and Gold for a Week which is $50. This is perfect if you want to try it out for a Day or just a Week. This is located on their Dashboard section of the website and not on the main page.


My Recommendation

If you don’t know whether or not this is for you, I would highly recommend the Bronze tier. You’ll have access to it for a month, the books generally are cheaper so you’re looking at spending about $8-$-15 per book. So to make your money back you’d have to make about 5-6 flips. Which comes out to $40-$75 which isn’t that big of an investment.

Total cost of trying out the bronze tier will be about $100. If you make your money back you’re golden, just keep at it until your subscription runs out and then take a step back and ask yourself if you want to keep doing this. Do you see yourself keeping track and actually making flips?

If you are like me, are highly motivated and serious about it. Go with the Silver tier. $50 won’t break the bank, your investments in the books won’t be as high as it would be for the Gold plan. And you’ll make your initial investment back in less number of flips than it would with the Bronze plan. This gives you more time to make more money in order to turn a profit for yourself and not just make your initial investment back.

If you have the resources to buy the Gold plan then by all means go for it. My only recommendation for you is that you be extra careful especially if this is your first time, because you will very easily lose a lot of money.

Cost Breakdown

Plan + Cost
Average Price of books
Number of Flips to break even
Bronze $25
Silver $50
Gold $100

Other Resources

BookScouter, this is a website that finds you the best place to sell you book. Think of it like the KAYAK of selling books. Very resourceful. I will talk more about this in Step 4.

Step 1 - Create a Budget

Set aside a certain amount of money to invest in buying books and stick to it. Don’t go overboard especially if this is your first time. It’s very easy to lose money when you’re doing this if you don’t pay attention. I would start with about $100 and cap it at that.

Step 2 - Sign up for Flippiness

If you haven't already here's a link:

Sign-up for Flippiness

Step 3 - Browse for profitable Flips

Login to Flippiness and check out the interface, it’s pretty easy to navigate to be honest so I won’t really go over that. Now start looking at links to buy books.

Remember: Do NOT buy a book until you know where you’re going to sell it. Prices change all the time and Flippiness isn’t ALWAYS accurate.

Firstly, while browsing for books, firstly make sure the price isn’t for a rental. Just because Flippiness says you can make $40 on a flip doesn’t mean it’s necessarily true.

Secondly, READ THE DESCRIPTION OF THE BOOK. This is time consuming but it will save you time and money in the long run. Only buy books that are in GREAT or NEW condition.

I emphasize on reading the description of the book because the company you will be selling it to can reject the book based on the condition and if it isn't up to their standards you can lose money.

Lastly, make sure the book you're buying isn't an international edition. Almost every company doesn't buy international editions of books.

Exercise Caution

Step 4 - Find a place to sell your book

So you’ve found a decent book you want to buy. The condition is Good or New, it’s not an international edition, and you know how much it’s going to cost you to buy it. (Don’t forget about shipping, it’s usually just a couple more bucks. The price on Flippiness includes this so don’t worry about it, it’s usually $2.99 - $3.99 in my experience)

The next step is to find a place to sell the book. Usually the website that Flippiness will recommend is the best one however it's always beneficial to double check with BookScouter

Just locate your ISBN on the book you want to buy and plug it into BookScouter. If you get a better deal from another company then make a note of it on your spreadsheet.

The last part of Step 4 is very important. Whichever company you decide to go with, before you buy your book I want you to go to their website and either find the FAQ section, HELP or BuyBack policy and read through it. (Note: When I say BuyBack i'm talking about the company that's buying your book from you).

Make sure the book you are going to buy is going to be up to the standards of the company you are selling it to. The reason behind this is that some companies will not send you the book back if they don't think the condition is up to their standards. They state this in their policy. My recommendation is to not do business with such companies however if your book is in a NEW condition you shouldn't have any problems.

Step 5 - Buy the book!

This is simple

Step 6 - Check the book

Once your book arrives. Open it, don’t rip it apart, use a knife or a box cutter so you can re-package it back into the box it came in.

Open the book, flip through the pages,look for any damages, look for any tearing any sort of marking inside the book. Also, some companies leave little notes or coupons inside the book. Remove all receipts and coupons etc.

Step 7 - Smile for the Camera!

Once you have opened your package and the book is in good condition. Whip out your phone and take a couple of pictures of it. This seems unnecessary but there are instances where some shady companies will try to tell you that the book they received was damaged in all sorts of ways. It's happened to me before, so as a safety measure take a few pictures of your book.

Step 8 - Finally, the money making step

After your photoshoot, head on over to your computer or smartphone and check bookscouter again. Compare the highest buyback price to what you have on your spreadsheet. It's a different company? No problem click on the link and sell your book to that company instead.

It's the same company? No problem continue with your sale to that company.

Once you've made your order, print out the required documents which will usually be a free shipping label and another piece of paper that you will have to place inside the book or package.

Tape that sucker up and head on down to Fedex, UPS, USPS whatever company they tell you to go to and just drop it off.

Pro Tip: Don't wait in line, just drop it off and walk away.

Step 9 - Money Money Money Money Money!

Now wait a few days for your package to arrive at the buyers location. Some of them have free tracking some don't. Keep an eye on your e-mail and PayPal account. Most times the package will arrive and you will get paid a few days later.

If you opted for a check then your wait time is much much longer.

So there you have it...

Follow each of these steps and you should be able to turn a decent profit. It takes time to get the ball rolling so be patient if you’re looking to do this seriously. First timers be careful with your money, it’s very easy to lose money flipping books. Remember to log everything in your spreadsheet. This will make it much easier to track all your purchases. Please leave a comment or let me know if you have any questions.


  1. Create a Budget + Stick to it
  2. Sign up for Flippiness
  3. Browse for profitable flips
  4. Read Description on book + make sure it's not an international edition
  5. Find a company that will buy your book
  6. Double check with BookScouter to make sure you're getting the best deal
  7. Read BuyBack Policy, FAQ or Help section of the website you are doing business with
  8. Buy Book
  9. Once the package arrives, open and remove any receipts or coupons
  10. Take pictures of the book
  11. Re-package, sell, print out postal material + ship
  12. Wait for money
  13. Repeat


I bought a book and the price changed dramatically by the time it arrived what do I do?

I would suggest you check out and their BuyBack Price history on that particular book. Scan the prices and see if you see a pattern. If you do then sell the book at another time be it a month or two from now. If it doesn’t change then list the book on Amazon,ebay and try to sell directly to the consumer. This will take up more time but atleast you’ll lose as little money as possible. If you can’t get rid of it then just chalk it up to a loss.

I sold a book and the company won’t send it back because they said it was counterfeit or damaged.

This happens from time to time. It's happened to me a few times already, expect this and always take precaution. Always take a picture of the book before you send it. If you haven’t an e-mail to them will be sufficient for them to send you your money back. Sometimes telling them to make an exception might help. I usually don’t do business with companies that don’t send you your book back.


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    • profile image


      17 months ago

      Some buyback sites have minimums in either dollar value or quantity. Just make sure you read the sites requirements first

    • my2165 profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago

      Hey Amanda108, thanks for the comment. It's actually a great way to make some extra cash if you have a good system in place. eBay is nice but I feel like there's a little more stability in selling books especially with this method. Feel free to ask me any questions if you have any.

    • Amanda108 profile image


      2 years ago from Michigan, United States

      Huh, I'd never heard of this! I assumed that book flipping would refer to the old buying lots of cheap books and reselling them on Amazon; your information was totally new to me. It's interesting as I used to resell toys on eBay, but moved away from it. Lately I've been thinking of researching online book selling methods, however. Thanks for the tips!


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