Most of the time it’s not worth the trouble to try selling books online.
The vast majority of books don’t bring a lot of money. And the ones you think might be worth the most (John Grisham novels, books by Oprah’s trainer) are actually worth the least because there are so many of them floating around.
However, there are some books that are worth taking the time to list, sell, and ship, and if you remember heading to the campus bookstore hoping to sell your textbook back after the semester ends then you’ll realize I’m talking about textbooks.
I was reminded of that yesterday when I sold this health textbook on Amazon for $74.99.
Yep, textbooks can definitely be worth the trouble.
How to Find Out What Your Textbook is Worth
You can get a rough idea of what a textbook is worth by looking it up on Amazon or eBay. Check the used prices on Amazon and the completed (sold) listings on eBay.
Generally speaking, the more current a book is, the more it will bring. With each revision the book undergoes, your version becomes worth less.
So get textbooks listed as soon as you’re done with them. And know that your accounting textbooks from 20 years ago probably aren’t worth anything.
The book I sold was for a online health class that my son took in order to free up room in his high school schedule for music and Student Council. The minute his counselor told me that he had received credit for the class, I listed the book.
Where to Sell and How to Price Your Textbooks
Honestly, entire books have been written about where to sell books online and how to get the best price. I certainly don’t have all the info and — even if I did — I couldn’t begin to cover it here.
The truth is, I’m mostly interested in getting the book out of my house and pocketing a little money in the process. I’m going to assume that’s what you’re after too.
With that in mind, I can tell you that what works for me is using Amazon to sell textbooks. It’s incredibly easy to list a book at Amazon and that’s where most of the book buyers are too.
Regarding price, I look at what other books exactly like mine are listed for and I list at the low end of the spectrum. That’s the sum total of my strategy.
Other Things to Consider
- Describe your book accurately. I tend to believe that the more detailed your description, the more you will stand out from other sellers. I know I trust a seller more when they give me a lot of info.
- If your book is from a smoke-free or pet-free home, say that. If it’s not, don’t mention it.
- If you ship your books via the US Postal service, you can use book rate postage, which is cheaper than other forms. Just make sure your buyer hasn’t paid for expedited shipping.
- If you sell via Amazon, the postage reimbursement amount is set for you. The amount I pay to ship a book usually doesn’t match the amount I was reimbursed for postage. Sometimes I come out ahead, sometimes I don’t. I don’t sweat it.
- Package your book well for shipping. I used padded mailers or bubble wrap and large envelopes.
- If you’re shipping the book Priority Mail, you can schedule a free pickup online from the post office. And — you didn’t hear this from me — but my mailman will even pick up a non-Priority package if I schedule it as a Priority pickup. I’m usually not a rule breaker, but I make an exception when standing in line at the post office is involved.
Do you have money hiding in your house in the form of a textbook? Have you sold any online? What strategy has worked for you?
This post is part of Frugal Friday.Note: I'm no longer adding new posts to The Family CEO. I am, however, writing at Creating This Life, where we talk about home, books, travel, and other life stuff.
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