Book Sale Strategy Vital To Building Up Your Profitable Inventory Of Used Books To Resell Online

Mike @ wrote this excellent post back in September 2011, but his sound advice on developing your own library book sale strategy still rings true and should be required reading by all online booksellers:

You can find his post by clicking on the link below:
I've found dozens and dozens of high-profit items on the final "bag day" of local library sales, putting hundreds of dollars of profit into my pockets for just a little bit of work. Very easy work.
While the library book sales don't usually kick into gear until Spring in my region of the county (the Ozark Mountain region), this is still very good information to bookmark.

Not long ago I attended a Friends of the Library book sale in a town about 40 minutes from my home.
On the way, I noticed a large yard sale sign. I detoured to check it out, and, yes, there were indeed plenty of books loaded on top of a dozen tables toward the back.
I spent about 30 minutes gathering a pile of textbooks and old cookbooks.
I found two textbooks in great condition for 25 cents each.
I took my box full of old books to the checkout, and was told the books had been discounted down half price. So my textbooks were now going to cost me not a quarter apiece, but 12.5 cents each.
I thought that was OK.
I posted both the day afterwards. One is still listed for sale at $79. I bet it will sell during the next textbook season in early January.
The other sold for $39 the day after it was listed for sale. Plus I got a $3.99 shipping credit from Amazon. In the end, I earned about $30 from the sale of that one textbook. And, that revenue paid for all of the books I purchased at the yard sale and at the FOL sale I attended a little later in the morning.
Not bad for half an hour's work, I'd say.
Yes, it pays to keep your options open and have a flexible book buying strategy when you're heading out on sourcing trips, I'd say.

How To Turn Used Books Into Cash

Cash For Books - Where To Sell Used Books Online For The Best Prices
By Steve Johnson

It's still very easy to find the best places to sell old used books, because there are so few places online where large numbers of people who have money to spend are actually looking to buy.

Here is my updated list of some of the best websites where you can make extra money selling used books:

Amazon Marketplace - Easily the highest traffic of consumer book buyers. Easy to list. Free listings, only pay when your item sells. You get paid every two weeks. Their tools are pretty limited unless you pay $39.99 a month for a Pro Merchant subscription, which gives you a wide range of extra tools to sell your items. You'll need to be selling 40 books a month to make this worthwhile, however, so you should start with the free selling option and upgrade when you've expanded your inventory enough to make Pro merchant work for you. - Best place to sell rare and collectible books to the average consumer, and also a great way to sell a "Lot" of books -- that is, a group of books. This is something you cannot do on Amazon Marketplace. Since shipping 5-6 books is fairly inexpensive, you can give the buyer a great perceived value and you can move bunches of books quickly. One trick that seems to work well is to make one of the books a high-value book and surround it with lesser-value books. Of course, all books should relate to one type or theme that an individual is looking for. For example, a group of woodworking books, or a group of dog training books, or a group of fitness books. - High-traffic website for discerning book buyers. Often you can sell collectible and rare books and reach the right audience. Lots of used bookstores have gravitated to this site. You might forge some good face-to-face meetings with store owners willing to buy books from you. Typically, though, they will offer wholesale pricing since they need to turn a profit on the books they sell. But it could be a way to move a large number of books at once. - Selling locally should be easy. For me, it's not. I think because each city book selling listings are free, people are willing to ask crazy high prices, and the audience skips even searching for books. I have noticed that quite a few college textbooks do get listed, and probably do sell well at certain times of the year. Having no listing fees, final value fees or even shipping fees make it a cheap option. But, unlike the international audience of the previous four websites, you'll only be offering to locals. - Free place to list books (and hundreds of other items you want to get rid of) in your local neighborhood. You type in the city you are in and you're taken to that section on their website. My local webpage covers an area about 100 miles across from one side to the other, so you might find it a hassle to hook up with buyers after the deal is done. But it's free. On my local region, only two pages of books appears, so it doesn't look like it's a really popular destination yet.

How to find out how much your book is worth quickly

You can't judge a book by its cover. True. But with a couple of mouse-clicks and a fast Internet connection, you can judge if it's worth enough to take up your time buying and reselling a used book online.

Here are two websites which are targeting used book online sellers, offering a simplified way to research values of used non-fiction, college textbooks, and collectible titles. - BookScouter attempts to help you sell your books for the highest price by comparing prices from over 40 book-buying websites. They claim you can quickly find the right website willing to pay the most for your books by using their website. - Likewise, Booksprice compares online book prices to find the best price for new, used, rental books as well as college textbooks at major online stores. They note that their free 'Book Price Comparison' is objective and easy to use.

By focusing your time and efforts on these popular book-selling websites, and using free tools to help determine the current value of your used books, CDs and DVDs you want to sell for a profit, you'll be well on your way to earning a respectful extra monthly income working from home.

Steve Johnson is the writer and publisher who founded, which offers free "how-to" articles on a wide variety of do-it-yourself topics such as restoring good credit, reducing credit card debt and improving your personal finances. A free sample chapter of his newest e-book "How To Make Easy Money Selling Your Old Used Books On Amazon" (read free sample chapter here) is now available in the Kindle E-Book Store at Amazon.

Article Source: Steve Johnson

Amazon Putting New Limits On Your Ability To List Textbooks For Sale

Amazon is cleaning house again.

Or just regrouping.

Or, bottomline, closing a door to extra sales for online booksellers.

Finding, listing and selling old textbooks probably will be a lot harder now that the Amazon Marketplace is adding new restrictions, as noted at this website: The Book Flipper

If your business plan includes reselling used textbooks, read this article and start determining if sourcing textbooks is still worth the risk.

I used to be able to post DVDs and music CDs for sale on Amazon; but now, the ones I find and flip online go straight to Ebay. (Note: they are selling pretty well there, and for less money in fees too).

My thought is that Amazon is making these restrictions not so much to hurt booksellers or limit competition, but, rather, to avoid legal threats of copyright infringement or claims of counterfeiting (which, sadly, is a real thing).

They've already restricted most sellers form posting books in "New" condition unless you can produce invoices direct from a publisher (and you'll need to be an authorized dealer in most cases to make these purchases.)

In any case, our advice for now is to simply protect yourself from investing too heavily in textbooks so you don't get stuck with un-sellable stock.

Better to spend your money on good used non-fiction in ice categories -- the types of good used books that have long-tail appeal and sell for good margins online.

Check For Shipping Supplies In Clearance Section

I ran across a great deal recently...

While waiting to have new tires mounted on my car at Wal-Mart, I did something I seldom do there anymore: check out the clearance section.

This time around, I uncovered some super deals on padded envelopes.

I bought all they had. Large bubblewrap envelopes for $1.50/pack of 5. Smaller package of paperback-size bubblewrap envelopes for only 75 cents.

Why these were on sale?

Who knows. They weren't damaged. Or out-of-date. Or .... no reason at all.

Here's what I brought home for less than $6.00, including sales tax:

The takeaway lesson?

Give yourself two minutes to check out the clearance section at the back corner at Wal-Mart. You just might wind up finding a deal like mine and put cash in your pocket when it comes time to ship used books to your customers.

Who's Making Money From Penny Books Anymore?

While I'd never do it, there are examples of booksellers who do make a small profit from selling penny books on Amazon.
Who are they? How.... and why... do they do it?
Here's an article from several years back that delved into this mystery, and I think it's worthwhile to reflect on as pricing online has changed during the past year:
"Can you really make a living by selling used books on Amazon for a penny?" on the website.
Like I said earlier: I'd never do it. But some people are making money doing it. It's an interesting read. I especially like the story of how one seller got started with free book inventory.
I'd like to try that!

Another Thrift Store Score: Nice Return After Snagging These 4 Used Books I Bought For Only $1.75

Think it's too hard to find good books to resell? I live in a little town. I found these paperbacks (condition: used very good) in thrift stores close to my home while out sourcing inventory:

"White Horse Force" by M.A. Meehan
Purchased for 50 cents
Lowest price listed is $13.52
Will list mine for $12.99

"Beware The Third Circle" by Harriett Ford
Purchased for 50 cents
Lowest price listed is $39.88
Will list mine for $37.50

"National Pesticide Applicator Certification Core Manual"
Purchased for 50 cents
Lowest price listed is $38.16
Will list mine for $34.99

This book finally sold after 10 months. I had to lower my selling price down to $17.50 due to competition for this title. I didn't make as much profit as I original projected, but I'll still make a nice ROI on this book, as I only paid 50 cents for this paperback edition.
"Through Alien Eyes" by Wesley H. Bateman
Purchased for 25 cents
Lowest price listed is $15.59
Will list mine for $14.99

Update: This book finally sold after 7 months. My selling price went down to $11.50 because of competition. I'll still make a nice ROI on this book, since I only paid a quarter for the paperback.
Even though 2 of the books still sit on my bookshelf, this is a nice return on my $1.75 investment, and I'm sure eventually, both of those books will find a new home.
These four paperbacks represented a 1:30 ROI when I bought them. I had to drop the price to match competition. They still represent the good quality used books you can source quite readily and easily from thrift stores in just about any market. Even though I've had to drop the initial listing prices to get them sold, I still made a nice profit. You just never want to get disappointed and quit when the competition gets rough. I guess that is the lesson I'm trying to make in this post.

Returns That Left Me Speechless

I've meant to post this for the longest time. Just got busy I guess. Or, maybe I simply didn't know how to put these experiences into words. Here are a couple of book returns that stand out in my memory. Why post these? Maybe to share my experience with you; I've learned that you can never be prepared for everything. Sometimes you just need to go with the flow when running your home-based book business.

I remember one return a couple years ago, from a prison. The book I had shipped a few weeks earlier arrived in my mail. But needless to say, I was alarmed to be getting a package from a correctional facility. I opened it up and took out a book I'd recently shipped to that state, and a letter was included. I don't have the letter anymore. But it stated that the individual who had ordered it was not allowed books in his cell.


I researched the order, and I still couldn't determine that I'd shipped this book to a prison. It seemed like a perfectly ordinary mailing address to me.

I was puzzled: how do inmates order books? Or did someone order this book for them?

I refunded the order. But never heard a peep from any customer.

I don't remember what reason I gave Amazon for the refund because it didn't fit neatly in any of the usual reasons.

But that book went back into inventory and was sold not long afterwards. I wish I could remember the topic. I hope it wasn't on lock picking or building weapons (I did pick up a collection of 'Build your own silencer' books at one time; I disposed of them after this incident, just to stay on the safe side of the law).

In another book return incident that happened about 2 years ago, I shipped a carefully-wrapped college textbook by USPS Media Mail. Within a weeks or so the person who ordered the book sent me a return request, noting they needed a refund because they no longer needed the book (always brings a grumble out of me early in the morning!). I replied that I'd refund once they sent the book back via USPS Media Mail, as this is the cheapest way to ship books.

Well, nobody was listening.

Or else they wanted their refund back pronto.

I received this book back in a flimsy shoebox via Priority Mail. Here is what it looked like:

Surprisingly, even though the packaging looked like it had been in a train wreck, the book inside arrived in fairly decent condition in spite of the fact that it had not been wrapped to prevent scuffing or mangling. There was no protective covering. There was no bubble wrap or packing pillows to protect the book. It was simply tossed in the shoebox with the return authorization and dropped off at their local Post Office.

Yes, the refund went out. But the amount of the refund they received was actually less than the $9.00 they paid for Priority Shipping, so they would have been money ahead to simply keep the book, maybe give it to a fellow student. The cost for Media Mail through the US Postal Service is less than half that.

I braced myself for a blistering response from the customer. I fully expected to have to fight negative feedback.

But none ever came.

I guess they never realized that they'd overpaid for the book by choosing the wrong shipping method. Perhaps they were in a hurry to get to class. Maybe it was Mom & Dad's credit card that was paying for the shipping so they didn't care. Whatever the case, it made me change the way I respond to requests for refunds. I made it clear that the buyer needed to ensure they chose Media Mail for returns or they were liable for the higher costs themselves.

I've never had a similar problem since then.

So two refunds stories. A part of life of your business. People got in a hurry and ordered the wrong book. Or they changed their mind. Or their jailer intercepted their order before they got it. Whatever the reason: Don't stress out if a customer asks for a refund. From my experience they are few and far between, and it is better to refund and move on than to get in a spat with your customer.

I heard this state years ago, and I stuck with me ever since: "The customer isn't always right.... but the customer is always King."

College Students Getting Schooled On Saving Money; Told To Buy Used Textbooks Online

Even places like is telling college students the best way to hold down the cost of college is simple: buy used textbooks.

Their article, "The Quick Guide to Cheap Textbooks," offers both basic and specific ideas on how to buy used college textbooks online, like this selection from their article on their website, posted in early September 2014:

On a site like Amazon Marketplace, where you can see used book options from other sellers, evaluate the book’s condition and shipping times prior to purchase. To reduce shipping times, choose a seller that’s in your region. Students should also checkout the local, independent bookstores around campus, which often have stockpiles of used books from last year’s classes.

Here is the link to their article:

Amazon Marketplace has made it just a tad bit more difficult for us indie home-based booksellers to compete in the crowded arena of buying and reselling textbooks ... especially if their is an online access pass or a CD-ROM included in the original textbook that is now missing or not accessible because of prior use.

There is indeed money to be made in the textbook market. But be warned about new selling rules, and be advised that heavy college textbooks cost more to ship, especially if you opt to send the book in ways other than USPS Media Mail. Some sellers offer this option because the students need the textbook fast and classes are starting soon.

Amazon Changes Rules For Selling Higher-Priced DVDs On Its Website

Amazon is changing the way sellers list DVDs for sale online. The new procedures and restrictions and hoops to jump through means I will likely not list DVDs for sale any longer. I never have really had much luck selling pre-owned DVDs I've found at auctions or yard sales in the Amazon Seller Platform; usually, I've had more luck reselling them on Ebay. But, nonetheless, here is an email I received the other day from Amazon, notifying me of upcoming changes, and the steps I'd need to take if I wanted to keep listing and selling DVDs with retail prices suggested by the manufacturer (MSRP), or else I'd lose that privilege. The email reads:
As part of our ongoing efforts to provide a great shopping experience, beginning November 17, 2014, only approved sellers will be eligible to list DVDs with Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Prices (MSRP) of $25 or greater. We are implementing this restriction because these products may have a higher risk of authenticity issues.

Based on your current performance, you are eligible to apply to sell DVDs with MSRPs of $25 or greater. The application process is described below. You will not be eligible to list DVDs with MSRPs of $25 or greater after November 17 unless your application is approved. Your eligibility to list DVDs with MSRPs of less than $25 or Blu-rays is not affected by this restriction. (Underline is mine to show the exception of their new rules.)

Any listings by unapproved sellers for DVDs with MSRPs of $25 or greater will be removed on November 16, 2014. Relisting products you are not approved to sell or creating duplicate listings may result in the immediate suspension or removal of your selling privileges.

If you apply and you do not have an account with a Professional selling plan, you must agree to sign up for a Professional selling plan within 30 days after your application is approved. A Seller Support associate will follow-up to request additional information to complete your application. At that time, you will need to provide the following to the Seller Support associate:

1) Your primary source(s) of inventory
2) A minimum of three (3) invoices or purchase orders for inventory with MSRP greater than $25 that you plan to sell
3) A written summary of processes you have in place to prevent inauthentic goods from entering your inventory

Your application will be evaluated based on the information you supply.

If you use Fulfillment by Amazon, you will need to create a removal or disposal order for any DVD products you have not been approved to sell after November 17. We will waive fees for any removal or disposal order for these products starting now through January 16, 2015. For assistance creating a removal or disposal order, please review this Help page:

Note that removal or disposal orders received in the fourth quarter may require additional processing time.

As a reminder, sellers are responsible for ensuring the quality of their products and should carefully review all sources of inventory. For more information, see our policies:

Customers trust they can always buy with confidence on, and this listing restriction is intended to help preserve that trust. Seller feedback is important to us. You can provide feedback by emailing

To complete a preliminary application, please click the link below.

Thank you for selling on Amazon.

So, Amazon has apparently decided to implement some CYA for itself when it comes to sales of used DVDs. For me, I'll pass and adjust the way I resell DVDs, even music CDs, from now on.

I would recommend that you check out the websites where Amazon spells out policies for quality standards, as well as review the 'Help' page topics. Most of the stuff you'll find there will answer just about any question. You can always contact Seller Support via their online contact form; however, many times the responses are off-base. It seems like they merely scan your email and reply with a standard reply. If they are way off mark and you still need a solid answer, contact them again, tell them no, that reply did not answer my question, and politely ask for a clarification.

Post your personal opinion in the comments of this new DVD policy by Amazon. I'm curious what you have to say on the topic.

Vintage Magazines Yield Treasure Trove of Old Dr. Seuss Tales, Articles Compiled Into New Book

Here's a tale about someone discovering old magazine stories in 1950's copies of Redbook Magazine, and turning them into a new Dr. Seuss book that just hit the market this Fall:

Yet more proof that there is treasure in old magazines. Be on the lookout for old, collectible:

  • Vintage ads
  • Unique historical photos and articles
  • How-To features
  • Celebrity news that has been forgotten
  • War heroes
  • Little-known facts

These are treasure to collectors and historians, and can provide a steady source of profits to you.

Check out our latest e-book on "How To Make Easy Cash With Old Magazines: Make Money Finding, Listing & Selling Used and Vintage Magazines In Your Spare Time!" -- available over the next 60 days for you to read for free if you are a current subscriber in the Amazon Kindle Unlimited program, or you can buy it for just $2.99 as a Kindle Book right now... about the price of a cup of coffee at your neighborhood cafe.