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Would You Make A Good Independent Online Book Seller and Buyer?

Updated on May 9, 2012

Where to begin...

As a book seller for almost a decade, my experiences have given me some insider knowledge that would be useful to anyone who loves books. Or at least I believe it to be so.

My hub is about book selling and buying, but this hub is more specifically about, how to determine if you are someone that should consider going into the independent book retailing business online. It can be done without ever paying a dime for a website, advertising, or any of the typical business methods most of us associate with selling things via the Internet. Ask yourself if you fit the profile of the book people described below, which ones, and if such activities might interest you. There will then follow some pertinent information about how to get yourself started, not everything you might need to know, but at least a good starting check list of information.

There are four main types of people who go shopping for books. There are those who are readers, those who are collectors, those who are students, and those who are book sellers or retailers. Each has certain motivations that make them different, but still they each have a common goal of finding their perfect book, when they want it and for the price they want to pay for it. There are a number of tips for each and every person who is interested in purchasing or selling books, but basically remember that all book seekers are cut of the same cloth, or this has been my experience through the years.

Each of these groups has another major thing in common, they spend a lot of money on books. If they each would learn how to save money on the books they spend, it will help cut their costs, yet still allow them to enjoy the books and acquire them for their particular reasons. All of the suggestions I am going to give are used by book sellers and retailers, so they maybe useful to every type of book enthusiast, but I mention them in reference to certain groups because they have particular advantages for them. So take note to some of these useful tips for sellers, students, collectors and readers of books in general.

Readers of Books

There are usually two types of book readers, ones that are interested in a particular genre and ones that are avid readers of anything. Both are very much the same, but it is important to make the distinction. Book readers sometimes have a personal library, but this is not always true.

Members of this group should always consider keeping your used books, as this is the best way to get the most value out of them, but that is up to the buyer to decide for themselves. The value of having your own reference library can be great, especially if you are going into a field that is devoted to study work. It is also a great idea for those going into the writing profession or anything related to writing or research work.

No matter what, saving or reselling books is good for the planet and very green friendly. Do not throw away those unwanted paperbacks, hardcovers or textbooks, but find someway to make use of them. Even donating them to your local library or thrift store can usually get you a tax break.

One of the best ways to always have new and interesting materials to read is by reselling your used books. You can do this through classified ads like, oodle via Facebook is another venue to consider, or small level third party reselling websites like thru eBay. You might want to sign up for an auction selling on website or a used book webpage. As a regular reseller, you will make back more of your investment than selling them elsewhere. Keep your books in good shape and you might even be able to make some real profits off of them.

Collectors of Books

Just like book readers, there are two main types of book collectors. Those who are interested in a certain genre and ones that are collectors of virtually anything with material worth or real world value. Book collectors will almost always have a personal library, this is the distinctive mark of the collector.

First know that you should price compare all your collectables between the listing on both small and larger websites. There are a number of websites that allow you to cost compare all the major book sellers for your paperbacks,hardcovers, and textbooks. The most popular and useful of these are named and You can put in the ISBN, title and other information on any book you are looking for. Once this is coded in, you hit enter and the website will show you every listing for the same book on the online market currently. Make sure you double check information on anything you buy, to be sure it is the textbook you want, and the same goes for reselling as well. Collectables are not always listed as such, so you will need to do your research to be sure about what is listed.

Next you should try shopping around on auctions. Listing on used book selling webpages are okay, but the best deals on collectable books are usually found by playing the auction market. Many expensive books can be had for pennies on the dollar via the auction listings, although on occasion you may find listings on sites with business ads for estate sales and bookstore closeouts. In these cases, you will probably have to buy the whole bulk lot, but there will be plenty of collectable titles in a thousand book bulk sale, trust me. These are usually higher quality books from actual book selling retailers, not just used independent sellers. A good book used is often great quality found on the auction block. Again always double check that you are dealing with a retailer of good reputation and standing, and always beware things that look too good to be true. They always are.

Student Book Buyers

All students must buy books and textbooks while in school. If they are a reader or collector of books outside of school, it will make a difference about how they use books after they are done with them. Students maybe inclined to be more reader-like or collector-like in their habits, but they have one advantage each semester, someone out there is usually looking for those books immediately for the coming school year.

Each semester you should consider selling your used books online to make cash, or to trade up for the next semester books on your curriculum syllabus. Next you should check the local classified ads to see if anyone is reselling their used books. If you are attending school for a few semesters, you should try reselling books, there are many websites to do this with students especially in mind, or do just like the students on websites with classified ads on do. Websites like ecampus, textsbooksrus, volare books, and cater to students customers nationally. Not all student book selling websites allow for international sales, due to language, publisher, and translation differences internationally.

If you find that no one is selling a particular textbook for a reasonable price, check for students that are reselling books on the classified ad websites. These books are often used, but used by a student. They may have highlighting, but it will be useful and not damaging. Often these books will have little or not use at all. The students just want to make a little better money, than the trade they would be offered by their local college bookstores. If you find this method successful, then you might want to sign up for an auction account with eBay or other websites.

If you learn how to save money on books or textbooks today, it can make school more cost effective throughout your college terms and is a way to make some groovy side money too. If you resell your textbooks, you are sure to make some money back each year in school. Book selling, reselling and used book buying is one of the best ways to save lots of money when purchasing books online today, but especially for the student who is online savvy.

Retail Book Sellers

Almost all book sellers started out as either avid readers, collectors, or possibly students. This is because most people who are book sellers started their journey into business, because they had a serious love of books, or at least it is a very common starting point. They also are likely to have used their personal collection as the starting capital to go into business for themselves.

Here are websites that will show you how and where to sell new and used books online. Some have already been mentioned, but now we shall discuss them from the purely retail perspective.

When you are looking for the best places to sell your used paperbacks, hardcovers, textbooks, and college books online, these tips should save you some time and effort. These are the basics of where to sell new or used books.

First it is best to evaluate how and where to sell the books that you have. This is made much easier by using online book price comparison websites, so that you can find the best place to sell your books. There are a number of online resource webpages devoted to price comparisons for books, videos, music, video games, and textbook buyback. In general there are two that are the most useful for selling of new or used books and textbooks.

One that is useful is which allows you to search and price compare college books to sell, rent, or buy. It has a very wide database that allows you to search by title, ISBN number, or author. Once you enter any of these pieces of information it will gather a database listing of comparisons on book pricing for buying, selling, or buyback. The only real disadvantage to is that it tends to be a bit skewed towards certain websites like and big auctions like, one can only assume due to their direct affiliations as companies. Also is geared more towards the new textbook market. Still it will give you a good idea what the selling price is and will let you know if someone want to buy your book or textbook immediately. Bigwords is not updated as frequently as some similar websites.

For a very viable alternative there is which is a true book selling and buying resource. This is the website that most online booksellers use for price comparisons. It allows the user to look up books by title, author, or ISBN number, but also has a few distinctive advantages. allows users to specify more detailed information such as condition of new or used books. It will allow the user to search for books that pre-date the use of ISBN numbers, so that you can research and find where the best pricing for very rare or collectable books are online. also has the only complete database of bookstores and online bookselling websites. Given enough information, you will be able to see every book like yours online that is for sale, its condition, asking price, and where you can sell it. It is updated almost hourly, but always daily.

Using either of these price comparison websites then you are free to register with individual bookseller webpages to sell your books. The top three retailers that allow third party bookselling are,, and

ABE tends to fetch the best prices, but may take time to sell.
Alibris has higher fees for selling, but tends to sell books quickly.

Amazon tends to encourage low pricing, but books can sell extremely quickly.

My suggestion is that you register and sell on several websites simultaneously, it takes a little organization, but is generally the more profitable way to go. You will need to read through the terms of service for each website and decide which one meets your needs. There are also book buyback programs that are offered some place.

Some final thoughts...

If you take on being a book seller and buyer with any degree of serious intentions, know that you are getting into a very competitive market. You will not get rich overnight, even if you have a few bursts of luck initially. This often discourages book sellers that are newbies.

My experience can guarantee you this, if you get a couple thousand books listed, then everytime you sell one book you replace it with two or more listings, and price your books will make sales every day a the 3000 book inventory mark. At 5000 book listings you will make about double that, and so on. This is just bread and butter money selling average price books.

Personally it was never my liking to sell collectable books. Many people disagree with me and have made good livings doing it. It makes sense, sell one book for a 1000 dollars each year, versus 1000 books for a buck over a years time. Still you make less on the third party website shipping reimbursements with a single book, but also it was my experience that collectable buyers tend to be too darn picky. They would return and cancel a sale for almost any whim or reason. So do as thou wilt, but it is something to be aware of in my opinion.

Other than that, it is my hope that some of you might find your way into the book selling and buying world, as I did for over a decade of my life. If you love books, know a little about shipping, and have a sense of how to acquire books, it might be a cool income booster for you. Good luck book lovers of the multi-verse.

Keep on Hubbing.


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    • blake4d profile image

      Blake Ford Hall 5 years ago from Now Rising Out of Phoenix Arizona Earthlings

      Thanx Yoginijoy. Glad you found the article informative, and yes I think you should give it a shot. Even just for fun. Keep on Hubbing. Blake4d

    • yoginijoy profile image

      yoginijoy 5 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      Interesting topic! As an avid reader, I do have my own library and would hate to part with my books. However, over the years there are more books now than space. Perhaps I will take your advice and look into selling a few. I agree it is better to donate or sell them used b/c it is much better for the environment. Voting up!