How to Sell Used Books Online

by Stephanie Dube Dwilson; Updated September 26, 2017

You can turn used books into a source of extra income with just a little research and creativity. Some sellers use third-party sites exclusively to sell their books, while others may create their own websites to avoid third-party fees. Still, other sellers are a little more creative and turn their used books into unique craft projects. Whichever route you choose, you likely won't see a huge profit unless you really commit to a large number of used books.

Third-Party Sites

Third-party sites such as Amazon or eBay are a popular means of selling used books. To sell on these sites, you'll need to create a seller account. Make sure you post high-quality photos and good descriptions of your used books, including if you would classify them as vintage or antiques. Add the ISBN so shoppers can find the book easily. Make sure you include a shipping price, unless you want to offer free shipping in order to attract more buyers. With Amazon, you can choose an option called Fulfillment By Amazon, so your books are stored at Amazon's warehouses, shipped by Amazon and eligible for free Prime shipping. To use this option, you'll have to pay storage fees until the books are sold.

Remember, you don't have to limit yourself to Amazon or eBay. Before deciding where to sell your used books, you can use an app or website like BookScouter.com to check the book's current selling price on a number of popular websites. Simply input or scan the book's ISBN, and the app will then display what the selling price currently is on a number of websites. For example, a book selling for $52.50 on eBay might be fetching $62 on Moola4Books. BookScouter can help you determine which site will bring you the most profit for your used books.

Unique Websites

Many third-party websites charge fees based on a percentage of your sales. If you want to avoid some of these fees, you might consider creating your own niche website for selling your used books. However, keep in mind that avoiding third-party website fees doesn't mean you'll necessarily be making more profit. If you're Web-savvy, you can set up your site to accept payments through credit card transactions, but you'll still have to pay credit card fees. An easier route might be to accept payments via PayPal. However, PayPal also has fees. According to PayPal, every transaction charges 2.9 percent of what you receive, plus 30 cents.

In addition to transaction fees, you may have to hire a Web designer to create a niche website for selling your used books, unless you know how to design websites yourself. You'll also need high-quality photos and descriptions of your books. Frequent blog updates can help your site rank higher on Google. However, you'll be starting from scratch gaining website visitors rather than working with a website that already has an established audience. Before choosing the niche website option, weigh your pros and cons to make sure it's the best option for your business.

Creative Projects

If you want to sell used books, you don't have to limit yourself to traditional reselling methods. If your book is more than 20 years old, you can sell it as a vintage item on Etsy, or get even more creative than that! Some sellers turn their used books into creative craft projects. Your audience for these types of sales might be vastly different from the audience for typical used books. Rather than selling to the person who would be interested in reading the book, you'll be selling to the person who will want to display this type of art in her home. For these projects, your audience will be shopping on craft sites like Etsy, where handmade items are commonly sold. Post your item under categories such as art and collectibles, prints, vintage book, upcycled book print, mixed media and collage or book art. You also can tag the gift according to holidays it fits with, such as Valentine's Day, paper anniversary, dating anniversary, or gift for newlywed. Using categories like these will help you find your target audience.

You have many choices when turning used books into crafts. For example, some particularly creative sellers turn their used books into folded book art. This is when the pages of a book are folded to create a 3D image of a word or picture. Also popular are pieces of artwork that use a page from a used book as a backdrop, with a printed or drawn image on top. These pages often are taken from used dictionaries. Other creative sellers may take a used book and cut out the pages inside to create a hidden compartment that can hold a small item such as a key. Before starting one of these types of projects, which can be more time-intensive, look at what else is out there and see if similar projects are selling well.

Whatever method you choose for selling used books, the process isn't without risks. However, if you research the used books before you buy them, you can make sure you'll make some profit off the purchase.

About the Author

With features published by media such as Business Week and Fox News, Stephanie Dube Dwilson is an accomplished writer with a law degree and a master's in science and technology journalism. She has written for law firms, public relations and marketing agencies, science and technology websites, and business magazines.