Sell Your Used Textbooks and Old Books Online

Published 11/16/09 (Modified 3/8/11)
By MoneyBlueBook

Selling used books online is one of the easiest ways to significantly declutter your home and earn some extra money in the process. Although it might seem like the intellectual thing to do - to have volumes of books and textbooks lining your book shelves to offer up that desirable professional-looking scholarly facade, but chances are, after you've read those books once you're very unlikely to ever read the vast majority of them ever again. Thus in the name of decluttering and staying organized, why not try to downsize your personal library periodically, and make some extra money while you're at it by selling off some of your used books and textbooks?

As a part time personal finance blogger, book publishers and book authors frequently send me free personal finance books to read and review. After blogging about making money and a whole slew of financial topics for several years now, in this span of time I've probably received well over 30-50 books about money (the vast majority of them parroting and repeating the same material frankly). If I did not periodically sell them online or donate them away to friends and readers of this blog, the incredibly large pile of books would probably have winded up clogging a large corner of my house, gathering dust and taking up space.

College and graduate students in particular have the greatest to gain from not delaying in their efforts to sell off their old and used textbooks online. School textbooks are by their very nature profitable exchanges for the book authors and publishers who issue new editions every few years and force all current book owners to buy the new versions to stay current. Thus, limited in terms of value by short multi year lifespans, school text books are only as current and up to date as the next year's release date. That is why I always strongly recommend that students sell their books quickly and convert them back to cash form as soon as the school semester or school year is over, lest they delay and wind up in ultimate possession of yesterday's edition.

Where To Sell Your Used Books To Get the Best Price and Most Money Back

I started selling new and used books online back in 2000 when websites like eBay.com, Amazon.com, and Half.com were just gaining prominence. While I sold my fair share of unwanted books to local used bookstores, thrift stores, and even pawn shops for cash, I focused primarily on online selling due to the higher prices I could fetch over the Internet. Selling back used textbooks has always been a great way to recoup some of the expensive costs of expensive textbooks, but unfortunately, college and university bookstores these days continue to pay students the worst prices for book buybacks. In most cases, college bookstores usually only offer half or less of the original purchase price for buybacks so that they can in turn sell the used titles back to other students for huge markup profits. Today, there are many places over the Internet where you can sell your used books for much better returns - each with its own host of pros and cons.

1) eBay (Auctions) - If you're a regular consumer looking to buy a new or used book for cheap, eBay will probably be your best bet as auction deals abound there and final sale prices are incredibly low. However, if you're a seller of used books or textbooks, the general public perception that eBay offers super low prices definitely works against your favor. But due to eBay's incredibly large customer base and superb ease of use, it's an online book selling resource you simply can't ignore. eBay is one of the very quickest, easiest, and simplest ways to sell used books online. Oftentimes if you're listing an auction for a used book, you can simply utilize eBay's book template setup feature, punch in the book's ISBN number, and have an effectively designed eBay auction ready to go in just a moment's time.

Even if you don't always get the best prices for your books with eBay, it's almost a solid guarantee that they will sell (albeit at eBay market determined prices). If you're looking to sell an obscure, rare, or valuable book, or perhaps you're looking to capture high traffic volume for an auction involving a collection of books at the same time - eBay might be your best bet due to its ability to offer up maximum public exposure. But because eBay auction consumers have been conditioned and accustomed to seek out and demand almost unreasonably low prices for their bids for some time now, you're unlikely to make a tremendous amount of money with eBay book auctions if you're a seller. Ebay's continuously increasing listing fees and rising commission charges have definitely taken a serious toll on seller profit potential in recent years.

2) Craiglist.org (Classified Ads) - Craigslist is a very popular online classified ad listing website and is also truly the wild, wild west of market place transactions. The greatest appeal of Craigslist for online book sellers and buyers is that there are no commissions, advertisement listing fees, or special mandatory shipping charges required. Pretty much anything goes on Craigslist - with all transactional terms and conditions negotiated and worked out between sellers and buyers themselves. If you have used books for sale and do not wish to be constrained by the auction rules or regulated limitations of policed sites like eBay or Amazon, you might want to try out Craigslist. Prices vary wildly however - sometimes they offer prices higher than eBay listings while other times they're lower. But in terms of saving time and effort, if you're looking to get rid of your used textbooks or old book collections all at once in large parcels, Craigslist is ideal.

Here's a suggestion for Craigslist sellers - if you're looking to sell a large bundle of books at once, try putting multiple books together into a single collection and posting the listing for sale on Craigslist. If potential buyers express interest, try throwing in additional books to spicen up the pot in their favor if you're willing to do so. This type of book selling strategy works incredibly well for smaller and lower priced books that don't sell as well individually.

3) Book Buyback and Textbook Rental Websites - The biggest problem with utilizing do-it-yourself (DIY) type sites like eBay, Amazon, or Craigslist to personally list and sell your used books is the time and effort involved to list and market every one of the books for sale. Trying to keep shipping costs down and save money on the cost of packaging envelopes isn't easy to do if you're not an adept micro-tasker. One viable alternative to the do it yourself approach is to solicit the services of an online book buying website that will pay you a one time bounty for all of your available and aggregate used books in one fell swoop. Usually after you've provided the book buyback website the names and ISBN numbers of all of the books you have for sale, the site provides you pre-paid postage labels for you to ship the books to them via the postal service. With book buyback services, there is no need for you to manage auctions, handle customer service inquiries, or follow up regarding timely payment. Once the folks at the book buying firm have received your books and reviewed their condition, they usually issue payment directly to you in the way of a check, PayPal payment, or even a direct deposit into your checking account in some cases.

The biggest downside with these online book buyback websites is the incredibly low price they generally pay for used books and textbooks. Because they pretty much do all of the work for you, these companies generally pay only small fractions of the original retail price for these books. Rarely do their offers ever match or exceed the prices that used book sellers can fetch on their own via eBay, Amazon, or even Craigslist. While I don't necessarily vouch or recommend any one particular site for its quality or reliability - here are a few book buyback and book rental websites I've come across that you might want to follow up on - Chegg.com, eCampus.com,�� BookByte.com, Cash4Books.net, Barnes & Noble, TextbooksNow.com, Textbooks.com, BooksValue.com, WeBuyTextbooks.com, BooksValue, TextbooksRUs, and CollegeBooksDirect. Let me know if there are any other sites worth mentioning, worth reviewing in detail, or even worth criticizing.

4) Amazon.com Used Books and Textbooks (Recommended For Most Sellers)

Compared to all of the other online ways of selling used textbooks and old books, I prefer listing books for sale on Amazon.com because it is much more intuitive to use than other alternatives. Signing up for an Amazon seller's account is straightforward and listing your used books for sale is easy. You will be asked to describe the condition of your book, set your desired fixed price, and denote your available shipping options. Amazon.com ultimately reimburses sellers for their shipping costs but charges a $0.99 fee plus an additional fee based on a certain percentage of the final list price. Here are a few Amazon quick links for sellers that want to get started:

Over the years, I've enjoyed a lot more regular success and have earned more profit with Amazon than say, eBay or Craigslist. Quite possibly because Amazon.com started out as a book store and many people still see and trust Amazon primarily as an authoritative source for buying books at a reasonable price, it seems visitors to the site are more willing to pay a slightly higher price premium than at other websites. But perhaps the greatest benefit of using Amazon to sell books is the ability to take advantage of the natural flow of visitors coming to the site and looking to buy a brand new book. Because used book listings are displayed alongside the prices for new book titles, you may be able to siphon off new book seekers and convert them into buyers of used, lower priced versions. Rather than go to Amazon.com and shell out $25 for a new book, you may be able to successfully lure prospective buyers into going for your cheaper $15 used version instead.

Obscure, rare, and collectible books tend to fetch higher prices via an auction or free-for-all classified ad listing than you may be able to get by selling the title via a fixed price listing on Amazon. If you prefer to sell a whole selection of titles simultaneously as a pallet or collection, you might be better off using eBay or Craigslist. Non textbooks or expired textbook editions tend to sell much faster on eBay and Craigslist where aggressive deal seekers and bargain hunters abound. But if you're selling either a popularly used and update-to-date school textbook, or trying to sell an otherwise recognizable bestselling title, Amazon will probably be your best bet. So long as your textbook has not been discontinued due to the release of a newer edition, you should not have any trouble selling your new condition book on Amazon somewhat close to what you paid for it. Standardized books such as school textbooks and popular bestsellers almost always perform better on Amazon.com listings than on other alternative sites.

If you're thinking about selling used books on Amazon, here are a few important tips and pointers I've learned and picked up in recent years:

  1. Always list your used books for sale at prices lower than your closest competitor.
  2. Always track your used book listing periodically to ensure that it's being priced at the lowest it can be.
  3. If your competitors attempt to low ball their prices and undercut your title listing, instead of getting into a pointless price war, try matching prices tit for tat rather than beating them instead.
  4. List your used book's condition accurately. Even if your used textbook is really in "like new" condition, you might want to list it as "very good" instead. You don't want future potential buyer complaints to cause your Amazon seller rating to suffer.
  5. Keep your shipping prices low by utilizing free shipping boxes that you naturally come across, or buy them from deep discounters like Walmart, Target, or even your local supermarket. One great way to save a lot of money on packaging and shipping supplies is to buy them through eBay. For example, check out the following prices for eBay bubble wrap mailers, and eBay bubble envelopes.
  6. Always ship utilizing the cheapest method possible - For used books and textbooks, the cheapest way to ship is usually through the postal service's media mail option. However, with certain smaller books, it might very well be cheaper to go with First Class Mail - just ask the post office to ship using the cheapest way possible.

Regardless of which method you use to sell your used textbooks and unwanted books, selling back books (textbooks in particular) is simply a great way to recoup original purchase costs. But bear in mind, unless you are somehow a very large power seller with access to special shipping discounts and access to very cheap shipping supplies, you are unlikely to get rich or make a lot of money online through selling used books alone as a business form. Like those money making paid online surveys you always see, they may be otherwise legitimate ways of earning some extra cash back, but it's doubtful you'll ever become a millionaire in the process. It's theoretically possible, but highly unlikely.

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17 Responses to “Sell Your Used Textbooks and Old Books Online” 

  1. SSmith says:

    It's best to stick with Amazon and EBAY for your used book selling. Amazon is the best because it's predictable, easy to set up a price listing, and buyers go there to buy books at retail prices. EBAY is a good site to sell used textbooks, but be prepared to get price whipped by your buyers. Everyone on EBAY wants an unreasonably good deal.

    But for textbooks, I usually just stick with book stores. I know they are ripping me off but I just don't want the hassle of selling books online.

  2. Raymond says:

    Selling books online is best left to those willing to put in some effort to earn a better return on the books they sell. If you'd rather not be bothered by the apparent hassle of online book selling, I don't recommend bothering with it then. Or maybe you ought to consider these book buyback websites. Their buyback prices are not that great, but they frequently beat out the prices offered by used book stores and college book stores.

  3. Nathan says:

    It is possible to make money online by selling used books and textbooks but it's harder than in the past. Ebay used to work but with the new increases in fees, it's getting harder to turn a great profit.

    Best of luck to all book sellers. I got out of that a lot time ago to sell other more profitable things. I usually buy stuff on craigslist (believe it or not) or through pawnshops (probably from some desperate soul looking to get rid of his junk), and then I sell them for an upsell price on Amazon or even Ebay. It works sometimes

  4. Mrs. Money says:

    I love half.com because you can put books on there until they sell. That's my favorite place to sell!

  5. Bruce says:

    Both Amazon & Half are the best places to sell textbooks - And I have sold a tone of books using these tools -

    Easily calculate your selling price with the selling fees by profit margin or gross profit dollars for Google Checkout, Paypal and Amazon Marketplace.  Now you know what to charge a customer by using the following free tools, PayPal calculator, Google Checkout Calculator, and an Excel sheet that you can download that will be an Amazon Marketplace fee Calculator.

  6. Reading Destiny says:

    I have not yet sold my used books at Amazon or half.com...the much famous sites...But recently when i needed a management book at an affordable price i surfed almost the complete list of online bookstores and came across A1Books... After studying the prices I even sold some of my old books over there.....now since i am a regular buyer of both management books and fiction novels, i quite enjoy the experience of having the book door-delivered. :) But the point is i never find any site discussing about this website where such simple steps of selling and buying books has been explained .....Its high time that we look beyond amazon and eBay :-|

  7. Swiftjab says:

    Can you list the same book on different websites?

  8. Raymond says:

    I don't see why you would want to list the same book on multiple websites for sale. If all of the sale transactions go through, you'd be obligated to cough up books for delivery. Now if you're merely soliciting for price quotes from the used book buyback companies...that ought to be okay.

  9. William says:

    One of the best places I have found to purchase textbooks is Uloop - They connect students with other students so all transactions are local, which means you don't have to worry about shipping anything. Also, unlike Amazon & eBay they don't take a cut. This means books are cheaper (buyer) as well as more profitable (seller).

  10. Moneyedup says:

    When I was in school I used to sell my books back to the book store, who took a large cut and paid a tiny fraction of what I paid. The book store would then resell the books to other students, charging almost the original price. It's time that students cut the middle man and starting buying and selling textbooks from each other. You can sell them for more because students would still be buying them for prices lower than the bookstores. Most universities have a used book network where you can directly contact other students and set up your transactions that way. Posting on Facebook marketplace or Kijiji could also work too.

  11. Rick says:

    http://www.Moola4Books.com makes selling your books online easy. You are not going to find a complicated website or process when doing business with them. Moola4Books�� has streamlined their process to be a trusted and reliable solution to selling your books, and putting Moola back in your pocket.

    Every Moola4Books�� customer is provided a free pre-paid shipping label. There are no hidden fees associated with the use of their process. Moola4Books�� provides a low minimum order of 5 books or $8.00, and very competitive payout rates. Most customers receive their payment within 3 business days of Moola4Books�� receiving their books.

    Moola4Books�� is where you 'Get more Bang for your Book!'��

    It's as easy as 1-2-3 to get paid:

    Step 1: Enter the ISBN # from the back of your book in at http://www.Moola4Books.com

    Step 2: Accept the offer, Confirm, and Ship the order for free with the provided shipping label

    Step 3: Get Paid!

    Once they receive your package at their facility, your payment is sent to you via check or PayPal within 24 Hours!

  12. Devin Visocsky says:

    Maintain up the great function mate. This web site submit exhibits how nicely you realize and know this subject.

  13. Ms. Red says:

    Moola4Books is too good to be true. Don't be fooled. Sure, they give you the best value for your buyback books but then again if you don't mail your books to them within 48hours they will significantly reduce the value quoted. There's no clause or disclaimer on their website that they will reduce what was quoted. They just pay you less when they have your books. Another disappointing matter is they can reject a book even after they've already quoted it. It's just frustrating to sell books to Moola4Books.

    I highly suggest BOOKBYTE. They have more than 2weeks window of shipping your books. They will honor what was quoted and will pay you.

  14. Pissed Off! says:

    Moola4books is a ripoff and joke!! I sold them my new Financial Accounting book because they offered a higher payout for it, BIG MISTAKE!!!! After two weeks they are still lying telling me that they have not received my book and even went on to say that a shipment had arrived and they were all damaged, missing packaging slips, wth! First and foremost, I ship packages all the time and with my book, I used bubble wrap in bottom of box, around the book and on top, with slip inside! After I got the lame a@@ excuse about my order, I read some reviews about Moola4books(which I should have done first) and apparently these scammers have used this same m.o. on others. I sent them an email venting after reading this, because it was the same exact thing that I am experiencing and the reviews have since, mysteriously disappeared!

  15. Betsy says:

    As a full-time book seller I have used nearly every book buyback site offered on the web for the last 6 years. There are only a few worth mentioning as reliable.
    The quickest turnaround time, and the highest average payout for a newer
    student edition textbook will come from: http://www.moola4books.com

    I personally switched to using this site a while back because of the higher payouts and the paid FedEx shipping. I use Paypal as the payment method, I have received every payment within 5 days of shipping my package. To date I have sent in 408 books with no problems at all. I've doubled my income using this service.

    If you are trying to sell older books that may have no ISBN, the only reputable route that I have found to use is:
    http://www.abebooks.com

    Using Abebooks will not most likely create an instant sale, but the site does specialize in antiquarian books. They have developed a wide base of knowledgeable traders that recognize the site for the ease of finding or selling old books, valuable or not.

  16. say says:

    These people just fool you around.I had sent a book in an excellent condition,packed according to instructions,insured and had a delivery confirmation.But i never received a confirmation from moola4books.After repeatedly sending emails and calls each time all of them had the same answer that they havnt received any book.I also sent them an attatched copy of delivery confirmation but they have now even stopped answering my calls.This is really disappointing and frustrating,i know i have been cheated.

  17. evarun21 says:

    I sell my used textbooks to MyBookCart.com. They pay fast and offer free shipping. They also have a referral program where I get paid a 10% commission for each book buyback they receive from my referral code. They mail me free flyers that contain my referral code upon request, and all I have to do is hang them around campus and wait to get paid. http://www.mybookcart.com

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