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Extra Income Ideas: Selling Used Books


Selling used books is a simple way to generate a second income stream for your household. If your shelves are overflowing with used books, or if you have boxes of them piling up in your garage, you're already well on your way to getting a startup business up and running.

Where to Sell Books

Amazon now allows people to sell their used books through its website. It's a simple process and takes a few minutes to set up a seller account. For every used book you sell, Amazon takes a small percentage for allowing you to utilize the service. There is also a fixed fee for hosting your account. You also get a shipping credit for each sale, to pay for the postage on the book. Amazon only collects its fee when a book sells.

Ebay is another option, but it should be reserved for books that are rare, autographed, or otherwise collectible.

What to Sell

As a rule of thumb, used fiction books don't sell very well. Another note: bestsellers don't sell well through Amazon or Ebay (fans of these books generally like to buy them new). Non-fiction, children's books, and textbooks are where you'll be able to get the most sales in a startup book business.

List Your Inventory

This process takes just a few minutes on Amazon. When you sell your used books, try to choose a price that's fair. In some cases, you'll notice that sellers have listed a used book for a penny. Don't be discouraged by this. List your book for a fair price. You don't have to offer a book for the lowest price in order to make a sale.

Supplies You'll Need

This will be your biggest initial cost. You need a supply of padded mailers and envelopes to ship your books in. When a book is sold, you just print out the invoice, package the book nicely, and ship it to the seller's address. Keep in mind that if you have a lot of large books, you'll need mailers that they'll fit in.

Where to Find More Used Books

Yard sales are a great way to find more second-hand books. If you want to get the most bang for your buck, find books that are thin. They weigh less, and therefore they'll cost less to ship (which increases your profits). Craigslist is another place to check. People will sometimes try to get rid of that box of books in their garage, and sell the whole thing for five dollars. Your local freecycle group on Yahoo! is another great option. Ask other freecyclers if they have any used books they'd be willing to part with.

Don't get too carried away with this. As you learn the process, you'll build up inventory and learn to be discerning when it comes to acquiring more books to sell. You don't want to fill your house up with used books that no one wants to buy.

With a little patience and perseverance, your used books can turn into a nice little income stream for your household. Selling them through an online site is a simple and easy process to generate some extra income.


Daphne Mallory, Esq. is the co-owner of Mallory Writing Services and has written more than 100 articles helping home based business owners and entrepreneurs start and market their business. You can learn more about her here.

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