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One of the quickest and easiest ways to make money is by selling books online. I’m not talking about writing a book, I’m talking about selling used tangible books. You can always sell books you already have to get started, but I’m going to show you how to scout for books to BUY (or how to get them for FREE) and then RESELL them for a profit.

First, it’s best if you have a few bookshelves in your home that will be dedicated to the books you will be selling.

Make sure everyone in the family knows that those books are off limits so that when you sell one, you don’t spend an hour tracking it down.  This special spot also ensures that the books remain in the same condition as they were when you list them for sale.

Next, you will want to source your books.  

Some places I find free books are:

  • Craigslist
  • Freecycle
  • Library Sale Leftovers

For cheap books check places like:

  • Garage Sales
  • Library Sales
  • Thrift Stores (the dinkier the better!)
  • Homeschool Book Sales
  • Craigslist for bulk lots

A standard rule of thumb that I use is NEVER PAY MORE THAN $1.00 PER BOOK.

Secrets of Successful Side Hustlers

Even if the book isn’t in great shape, or it’s fairly common, you can still usually sell them for at least your purchase price of $1.00 (this way you aren’t losing any money).

You might be wondering what kind of books sell well.  Most of the time hardbacks fetch a better price than paperbacks, best sellers are usually sure bets, and non-fiction tends to do better than fiction unless it’s a classic or has won awards.

There are several ways you can do your research from your phone if you’re unsure of how popular a book is and what it’s going for.

  • Half.com  This is where I usually sell my books, but you can do a quick search to see what books are listed for and decide how you want to price yours.  The minimum is 75 cents.  If I got my books for free and can list 10 in 10 minutes, I just made $7.50 for 10 minutes of time, or $45.00 an HOUR!
  • Bookscouter is an app that can snap a picture of the book with your phone and tell you how much it’s worth.
  • Amazon is another place you can check and is helpful to see how popular a book is.

Decide where to sell your books

I pretty much always use Half.com, Ebay.com or Etsy.com (for vintage books).  You can sell on Amazon, but unless you are doing this in high volume and full time, I’ve found it’s hard to make money and it’s more hassle than it’s worth.

Another tip I have is to really get to know homeschool curriculums well.  They sell like hot cakes and if you come across any popular titles at a thrift store, you can make a ton.

Shipping your books

Don’t get taken by shipping charges!  Here are my tips for keeping your shipping costs as LOW AS POSSIBLE.

  • Get a digital scale.   I don’t use a postage scale because I’ve found them to be either too expensive or unreliable.

I actually use this food scale

(it even comes with the batteries!) because it goes up to 11 lbs and does double duty for measuring liquids and ounces when I’m making recipes and diy beauty products.

  • Reuse boxes and envelopes you already have for shipping OR save paper bags and/or scrap paper to wrap your books in!  I save all of my paper grocery bags and just wrap and tape with shipping tape.  If I run out of bags, I will take scrap paper and tape a few pieces together to fit around the book and wrap it with that.   Wrapping your books with paper and taping is helpful for keeping your shipping weight light.
  • Laser printers will cost WAY LESS for printing shipping labels than ink printers.  If you have an ink printer, at least go into your printer settings and change the setting to the lowest quality.  I picked up this high-quality multifunction scan, fax, copier and laser printer on craigslist for $50 and I love it.  Half.com produces shipping labels for you so there is no typing anything in except for the weight of your book.
  • Always choose media mail as your shipping option.  Even when I am shipping 15-20 books, my costs are under $10.

Getting Paid

This is the best part!

  • If you sell on Half.com, you will get paid twice a month.  I usually sell 10-20 books every two weeks and bring in about $50 a month.  The money is going directly into your bank account.
  • eBay auctions will be paid via PayPal as soon as the buyer pays and then you will need to transfer the money to your bank account.
  • Etsy.com will send your money via PayPal.
  • Anything that doesn’t sell in a year, I review, re-price and then sometimes sell as a lot on craigslist.  This makes room for more saleable books.

All in all, with about 10-20 minutes of time invested per week. you can expect to make an easy $50-200 a month or more depending on how often you source books and how cheap you can get them!  That will pay a utility bill or two and is another great way to make it pay to stay.

What other ideas do you have for selling easy items online for extra money? Please share your ideas in the comments below!