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Clever Places to Sell Used Books Online and In Person 


There’s something about a full bookshelf that screams “I’m educated and I’m not afraid to show it!” But let’s face it — a lot of your books are just collecting dust.

Whether you’ve got a pile of novels you read once and have no intention of reading again or a stack you’ve never read in the first place, it’s time to look at how you can get paid by selling your books.

Where to Sell Used Books Online and In Person

We’ve found five platforms for selling books online and provided the scoop on each, including how much it will cost you to make money with them. And we’ve rounded up another handful of ideas for selling used books in person, plus places that take book donations.

They are:

Where to Sell Used Books Online

We know it’s not easy to part with books. If you have trouble doing this, enlist a trusted friend or relative to help you go through the shelves. Be merciless and realistic. Once you’ve got your stacks of books ready to sell, consider these online options:

Amazon

The obvious choice for many is Amazon, but using this platform is also more complicated than the other options on this list.

How to Sell Books on Amazon

Open an Amazon seller account, then choose which countries you want to sell in. Then select one of Amazon’s two fulfillment methods:

  • Fulfillment by Seller (FBS): You pack and ship every book that someone orders from you.
  • Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA): You ship all your books to Amazon, and Amazon handles the packaging and shipping on orders.

FBS requires more work on your part, but you’ll also have the freedom to choose your own shipping service.

How Much It Costs to Sell Books on Amazon

Amazon offers two selling plans:

  • The Individual Plan: This costs 99 cents per unit sold, and it’s best for people who sell fewer than 40 books a month.
  • The Professional Plan This costs $39.99 per month and is best for people selling more than 40 books a month who also want to advertise.

For every item sold, Amazon sellers pay the company a referral fee, which is a percentage of the total price. For books, the referral fee is 15% in addition to a $1.80 closing fee. You’ll pay that in addition to the selling plan fees.

Fulfillment Fees depend on which fulfillment method you choose:

  • Amazon FBA: The monthly fee for storing goods at an Amazon Fulfillment Center depends on how much inventory you’re sending them. More information here.
  • Amazon FBS: Shipping costs are charged upfront, but Amazon will also charge a fee based on the product category and shipping method, which will then be passed on to you as a credit. More information here.

In addition, you may end up with refund fees, high-volume listing fees or a rental book service fee. A full breakdown of the other costs can be found here.

What You Need to Know Before You Start

  • Follow listing guidelines. Be as specific as possible about the condition of your item so customers know what they’re buying.
  • Be honest. If you list a book incorrectly (for example, by saying it is in like-new condition when it shows signs of wear), you’re more likely to get negative feedback, which can lead to your removal from the platform.
  • Figure out your prices. Many sellers recommend adding up all of your costs and comparing that total to the book’s original value.

Who Should Sell Used Books on Amazon?

If you have a lot of new or gently used novels to sell, Amazon may work for you. However, if you only have a handful to unload, you may want to look elsewhere.

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Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

AbeBooks

Sellers who use AbeBooks are responsible for setting up their own listings, storing their inventory and shipping their own items.

How to Sell Books on AbeBooks

First, you’ll need to decide if you want to pay for a professional account or just sell a few items through the website’s Book Buyback section.

To do the latter, you then have to choose between Ziffit or TextbookRush as your partner. Unless you’re selling textbooks, your best bet is Ziffit.

You can search Ziffit’s database through its website or using its free app. You’ll either type in the 13-digit ISBN or scan the barcode with your smartphone.

Once you find the book in the database, the service will display an offer.

How Much It Costs to Sell Books on AbeBooks

If you want a professional AbeBooks account, you’ll have to apply for it and then pay $25 or more a month.

The free option is to sell your books through TextbookRush or Ziffit. Neither TextbookRush or Ziffit require you to pay for your shipping label — every book buyback gets a free trackable FedEx mailing label — but you’ll have to provide your own box.

What You Need to Know Before You Start

  • Keep your shipping label receipt. This is proof of shipping so you can use the free drop-off service at your nearest FedEx.
  • Sell frequently. Those who choose Ziffit get paid weekly either via PayPal or direct deposit, so selling more will get you a higher weekly payment.
  • Use the app. If you want to quickly scan barcodes rather than type in the entire ISBN, the Ziffit app is available on Google Play or the Apple App Store.

Who Should Sell Used Books on AbeBooks?

Several seller reviews on Trustpilot said the service is great at paying sellers promptly, so AbeBooks is a good choice if getting your money quickly is a priority for you.

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Etsy

You already use it to shop cute hand-made goods, but you probably didn’t know there’s a whole community of people selling books on Etsy.

How to Sell Used Books on Etsy

Use Facebook or Gmail to create an account, or set one up using your email address.

Set up your shop by choosing a name, the currency you’ll accept, and what items you want to list (including photos and descriptions).

You can choose to offer free shipping or to have buyers pay for it. If you pick the latter, you can choose a rate or have Etsy calculate it for you.

The Seller Handbook has hundreds of articles for anyone who is starting out.

How Much It Costs to Sell Books on Etsy

There are a few costs associated with selling items on Etsy.

  • Listing fees: You’ll be charged 20 cents for each item you list for sale.
  • Transaction fees: When you make a sale, you’ll pay 5% of the price you display for each listing.
  • Advertising and promotional fees: You can purchase paid advertising on Etsy. Learn more about those fees here.
  • Shipping fees: Etsy lets sellers in certain areas buy shipping labels to fulfill their orders. If you are outside these areas you’ll have to pay for your own shipping label.

What You Need to Know Before You Start

If you choose to make shipping free, you’ll take the brunt of that cost yourself. But if you make buyers pay for shipping they may choose a different vendor that offers it for free.

Who Should Sell Used Books on Etsy?

As with Amazon, using Etsy to sell second-hand requires more of a time investment, so it’s a good option for people who have a room full of titles rather than a shelf’s worth to list.

It’s also worth considering Etsy if you’re offering rare titles that are also in great condition.

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Decluttr

Decluttr uses both an app and a website to sell books and other used goods.

How to Sell Books on Decluttr

Either download the app or go to Decluttr’s website and click the “Sell CDs, DVDs, Games & Books” tab.

Next, enter your book’s ISBN and click “Add” to see how much the website will offer you for your item. To complete your order, your basket must contain at least $5 worth of items and include at least 10 media items or one tech item.

After you’ve met the criteria, you’ll pick one of three options to get paid: direct deposit, PayPal or donate to charity.

Finally, print your free UPS shipping label, pack the items in a box, label it, and drop it off at a UPS Store, Customer Center or Authorized Retail Outlet.

How Much It Costs to Sell Books on Decluttr

Decluttr is one of the cheapest platforms on this list because it’s nearly free to use, including shipping. You just need to supply the box.

What You Need to Know Before You Start

With Decluttr, you can only make money if you have a lot of books to sell, so consider another platform if you only have a few to purge.

Who Should Sell Used Books on Decluttr?

Use Decluttr to do what the name suggests — to declutter your house — but don’t expect to make much more than a few bucks.

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Letgo

With Letgo, you pick the price you want to list your book for and wait for an offer.

How to Sell Books on Letgo

After creating a free account, list your books by selecting the “Other” category and dragging a photo of the item into the designated box. Choose a price, create a title and write a description.

When someone contacts you to say they’d like to make a purchase, you’ll determine how the item will be delivered and sold to the buyer.

How Much It Costs to Sell Books on Letgo

Creating an account is free, and when I tried out the site by posting a book, I was not required to give any money to Letgo. Most sellers use the app to sell items locally, which bypasses shipping costs.

What You Need to Know Before You Start

Make sure you verify your buyer is a real person and double-check the payment method you’ve agreed on. If you’re going to meet up in person for a transaction, do so in a public place with a friend or family member present.

Who Should Sell Used Books on Letgo?

If you’re an experienced seller looking to make a little money by selling to people in your immediate region, this could be a great platform for you.

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A man goes through his book collection.
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Where to Sell Used Books in Person

If selling online isn’t an option you can find places to sell your books locally and in person. Here are some common places you may be able to make some money on your pre-loved books (or, failing that, where you can donate your books to give them a second chance at life).

Used Book Stores

Depending on where you live, you may have several choices of second-hand or indie bookstores. Places like Half Price Books (or some Books-A-Million stores) will value your books and make an offer based on how much they think they can get for them.

You could make a bunch of money or just a few bucks. You can usually opt for store credit rather than cash.

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Garage Sales

A garage sale is a good place to try and sell any books you couldn’t sell online or at a second-hand bookstore. You probably won’t make a ton of money; most yard sale shoppers want a quick bargain.

Depending on where you live, you may be able to join a citywide garage sale to catch as many potential buyers as possible.

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Ideas for Places to Donate

If you didn’t get any bites online, at a second-hand bookstore or at a garage sale, you can donate your books at the following places.

Libraries

Libraries are always looking for book donations. They will either add the books to their collection or sell them at a Friends of the Library sale to raise money to help run the library.

Your neighborhood may also have a “little free library” system where you can drop off your books. These typically have both children’s and adult books that you can take or leave as you please.

Children’s Hospitals

If you have used children’s books you want to get rid of, consider your local children’s hospital. Reading is a great way for kids to spend time when they are hospitalized.

Local Charities

You can donate your pre-owned books to a charity like Goodwill and to churches that have thrift shops. Many local charities have thrift stores that partially fund their programs through sales. Books in good shape are welcome.

Prison Libraries

The Books to Prisoners website allows you to donate books to local correctional facilities to help prisoners learn and pass time while incarcerated.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Here are a few of the most common questions asked about selling used books.

What is the Best Way to Sell Used Books?

If you want to get into the business of selling second-hand books, your best bet is to use an online platform like Amazon or Etsy. But if you only have a few books to sell, a second-hand bookstore or an online platform like Decluttr might be a better option.

Where Can I Sell My Books for the Most Money?

If you have a large collection of good-quality books, you can make a decent amount of money using a platform like AbeBooks or Amazon.

But if you’re just trying to sell a few dog-eared paperbacks, you’ll need to reset your earning expectations. You can take them to a second-hand bookstore to see how much they will pay, but it’s unlikely you’ll make any serious money.

How Much Does Books-A-Million Pay for Used Books?

Some Books-A-Million locations buy pre-owned books through the BAM! Used Buyback program.

Books-A-Million pays out based on book condition and demand, so your offer will vary based on these factors. If your books are obscure and don’t have much of a market, they may return them to you with no offer.

Selling books online or in person is a great way to give new life to your well-loved books while making a few bucks on the side.

Contributor Catherine Hiles is a British writer and editor living and working in the U.S. She writes about finance, cars, pet ownership and parenting. Niki Kottmann is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.




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