Sell Books Online for Extra Cash Each Month
I love books. All books. Fiction, nonfiction, biographies, how-tos, self-helps, textbooks—seriously all books. Sometimes I buy books just because I like the cover.
And sometimes I buy books because I know they’re worth something. That’s right, I’ve turned my love of books into a money-making hobby. From textbooks to out-of-print novels and hard-to-find hardbacks, there are many books you can sell online for a profit. Sound interesting? Find out how I earn an average of $300 each month for just a few hours of work.
How I earn $300 each month by selling books online
I didn’t set out to turn my hobby into a money-making opportunity. While doing some spring cleaning, I decided to see how much a web design textbook was worth that I had bought at the Goodwill for a few bucks. A quick Google search later and I found many sites that let you sell books online for cash. I chose one, typed in the ISBN, and found (to my surprise!) the book was worth $54.
Granted, that’s not a ton of money. But considering I had bought it for just $3 and read through parts of it to learn about HTML, I considered it a double win (like getting paid to learn something!).
After that, I looked at my overstuffed bookshelves in a new light, not as gigantic dust collectors, but as five-tiered shelves packed with $20 bills. I learned that was a bit optimistic. Most of my collection was worthless. But there were many others that were of some value.
All in all, that weekend I freed up shelf space and made just over $500.
Since then, I still have my love of books. But now, when I’m book shopping, I also keep my eyes peeled for titles that can make me some extra cash, too.
What books sell?
That’s hard to say. There are some books I think are a guaranteed $50, that aren’t worth anything just as some books I think are worthless fetch $20 or more. There’s no set standard for book prices. Generally speaking textbooks, out-of-print, and non-fiction titles do the best.
No matter the type of book, there are some things you should know before deciding to sell books online for cash.
Condition is Key
Only buy books that are in good condition or better. This means no stains, loose bindings, missing pages, or excessive highlights. Most of the valuable books are going to be textbooks for students and out-of-print books bought by collectors—two very discerning groups of buyers!
If you buy books that are in fair to poor condition (or worse!) you’ll waste a lot of time and money.
Find the ISBN
The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a unique number given to each book. This system was introduced in the 70s with a 10-digit system (today ISBNs are 13 digits). Books dated pre-70s are likely to have just a 9-digit number (in this case, add a zero to the front of it to get a modern ISBN recognized by most online book buyers!).
Sometimes you’ll find books that have a new barcode placed over the ISBN (typically for inventory purposes at a particular store). Make sure you peel this away in order to locate the book’s true ISBN. The ISBN is important. It’s the number used to give you a price quote.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
Thankfully, technology has made it considerably easier to find out which books are worth anything. ISBN scanners make it simple and quick to get buyback price quotes from multiple vendors at once.
I’ve used BookScouter with pretty good success. It’s like a book buying database that has over 50 vendors’ prices built into one place. Simply download the app, find a book, scan the ISBN, and a few seconds later you have several price quotes to choose from. They also have a website you can use.
Plus, there’s an option to manually enter ISBNs for books that don’t have a barcode or won’t scan for whatever reasons. Remember, you won’t actually sell your books through BookScouter. You will use BookScouter to find out the buyback prices from vendors. (Screenshots of BookScouter vendor prices and ISBN feature)
Shipping Your Books
Once you’ve found books you want to sell and decided where to sell them, you will need to pack the books up and ship them out.
Most vendors will provide you with a free prepaid label to ship the books to them. Usually, you’ll have a set amount of time to mail the books out once you’ve accepted a buyback offer (typically a week).
After your books arrive to the vendor, they’ll be inspected and you’ll be paid (usually via check or PayPal, your choice!).
Where to find Used Books for Cheap
Your local Goodwill, Salvation Army, or other secondhand stores are a good spot. Garage sales and library sales can also yield many valuable books (twice a year my local library does a massive sidewalk sale to generate money and free up shelf space).
If you download an app like BookScouter, you can scan ISBNs on the spot to decide whether or not a book is worth purchasing and flipping for cash. Most of the times books can be had for $3.00 or less at thrift stores and other sales, so it’s up to you to decide which books are worth flipping based on their buyback price.
Just this past weekend, I came across two textbooks at Goodwill that I found were worth more than $100 thanks to scanning their ISBNs with BookScouter. I spent around $6.00 for them both and was only at the store for about 45 minutes (not too bad!).
That’s all there is to it. If you have a ton of books on hand (like me) you can start going through your personal collection to find some that may be of value. And the next time you’re at your local thrift store or garage sale, don’t forget to take your ISBN scanner with you! You may just find a new hobby that also happens to make you a little extra cash each month (win-win!).
Looking for more ways to earn extra cash each month? I’ve compiled a list of 101 Ways (and counting!) to earn extra money from home.
This post contains affiliate links. Please see the disclosure for more information.
Grab Your Free Guide
Subscribe now to get your free copy of the work from home quick-start guide.
You'll also receive weekly updates specifically meant for out-of-the-cube thinkers, like you.