How to Make Money Selling Books on Amazon

by heather

Ok, so as you regular readers already know, I’ve been on a decluttering binge lately. And one of the things I’ve been getting rid of is books.

Normally I donate my books to my local library. But last week I decided to try selling some on Amazon to just see what happened.

Know what?

I’ve already made $75 in less than a week. And it was ridiculously easy to do.

This Could Be the Start of a Beautiful Relationship…

Selling used books online is an incredibly easy way to earn some side income. Used books always sell well, especially when the economy is down. So if you’re looking for ways to make some extra money, this could be the perfect avenue.

I’m so geeked that I’ve made this much with practically zero effort that I’m seriously thinking about turning this into a side business. I’ve always dreamed of selling books, but shied away from online listing simply because I hate taking pictures (like you have to do on eBay) and listing everything. It was just so tedius.

But Amazon has made it super easy to list books. There’s no picture taking, and the listing page is really intuitive. I figured it out in a matter of seconds.

Selling Used Books on Amazon

To start selling used books on Amazon, you first need to have books. Obvious first step, I know, but hear me out here.

All books are not created equal. This means some books give you a much higher profit than other books. If you go out looking for books to sell and you buy the wrong ones, you’re only going to add to your clutter and lose money.

So which books should you be buying, or bother selling?

Well, fiction will usually have the lowest profits. What will you really earn the most on? Let’s enter the world of non-fiction.

  • Business
  • Art and photography
  • History
  • Cookbooks
  • How-To
  • Sports
  • Medical and legal
  • Illustrated
  • Textbooks

If you have boxes of these kinds of books in your garage, basement or attic, then you could be making money.

I think it’s important to focus on niche books. But you have to be careful here.

For instance, I have a pristine copy of David McCullough’s Pulitzer Prize winner, “John Adams”. This book falls squarely under “History”, which I just listed. But it’s an incredibly popular book. It’s selling used on Amazon for $2.36.

So for me, I’ll get more if I donate it (I get a $4 tax write off for each book I donate).

As you can see, it’s important to research before buying a book to see if you can actually make money on it. If you’re lucky enough to have a smartphone with Internet access, this is a great tool to use when you’re out and about. You can simply look up a book online to see what its used price is selling for.

Getting Started

To get started selling on Amazon, head over to their Sellers page. As you’ll see if you click the link for Individual Sellers, listing books is super easy. All you have to do is put in the title, make sure you have the correct version of the book, and then describe its condition and name your price.

When it comes to naming prices, my strategy is this: I simply list 25 cents lower than the cheapest price already up. And, my books are selling fairly fast.

Amazon’s Fees

There are fees for listing with Amazon. The site takes 99 cents per sale, as well as 15%. So, it’s a chunk. But the advantage is that everyone buys books on Amazon. So you get a massive audience.

You can, of course, sell books on eBay and I’ve bought books on both of these sites (although I haven’t sold there).

Their fees are slightly lower, but vary depending on the price you list at and the price the book sells for.

For instance, eBay will charge you 50 cents to list a book over $10. They also take 8% of the sell price.

Another thing to consider is the caliber of pricing.

For instance, I did a quick search for “Eat, Pray, Love” on both Amazon and eBay. Amazon’s average price for this book, used, was $7.29. On eBay, it ranged from $2 to $7.

You’ll have to check for each book, but you might get more for your book if you list on Amazon. But I’m sure this isn’t true in every case.

Finding Books

So where can you find books to sell?

  • Library book sales
  • Garage sales
  • Thrift stores
  • Used book stores
  • Flea Markets

And of course, don’t forget your own books and those of your friends and relatives who simply don’t want to be bothered with selling their own books.

Last Word…

Do any of you sell used books on Amazon, eBay, or If so, do you have any tips for me and other readers? I’d love to hear them!

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September 8, 2010 at 3:57 am


Alicia Young September 8, 2010 at 7:19 am

Thanks for the other places that we can donate to and other ways we can help end this tragedy in the U.S. I have, on more than one time in my life, had to depend on an agency to get food to feed my family. There is also a great low-cost alternative for those who can’t afford to shop in regular grocery stores every week, and I have bought from them many times – Angel Food Ministries. It is a combination of bulk dry and fresh food that “feeds a family of 4 for a week.” The cost is about $30 and they have added many alternatives including a Vegetarian package, after-school snack packs and more. There isn’t an income limit either. (I’ve used your ideas on my blog as well, with a link back to your site, of course.)

Caitlin September 8, 2010 at 11:18 am

I used to sell my books all the time when I was in college. At that time I had mostly textbooks and history books (history was my major). I definitely got more money selling on Amazon than I would have returning the books to the school bookstore. Amazon was also a great place to buy some of the books I needed for class.

I still get things off Amazon occasionally, but most of the books I have now don’t sell for as much so I use local used bookstores or to trade books I’ve finished for ones I’d like to read. Selling books as a side business sounds fun though!

Christie @ Tree Hugging Mom October 16, 2010 at 1:07 pm

I’ve used and just posted a few on ebay. I really like except for one thing. charges the buyer one price for shipping but only reimburses you a portion of that. I find that I lose about $.19 per sale on shipping so I have to adjust my prices to counterbalnce that.
Also, only processes seller payments twice per month so you are out the cost of shipping until you get reimbursed.
But otherwise, it’s very easy to use and I have no other complaints.

Rose December 18, 2010 at 7:39 pm

I’m also new to online selling. I have listed a variety of things on Ebay including books. I was considering but the prices on the books are so low, I don’t understand how people are making money. I have sold a cookbook and a Narnia book and that was only a 7 day auction. I also considered Amazon and actually have a few things listed but no luck yet on Amazon. Currently Ebay is waiving a lot of fees so I haven’t really paid anything yet. I was considering purchasing a scanner but they are so expensive. Love the tips! Good luck with your selling!

Catherine Chandler February 28, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Thank you for writing about this! It finally gave me the courage to sell a bunch of books cluttering the house, and it’s working! It feels so good to be rid of clutter and be making money 🙂 Plus, I make way more than I would if I were to take them to the local Powell’s to sell.

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