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How To Sell Books Online In 7 Simple Steps [(2024) Update]

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Is your home full of old books that you’d like to sell?

Do you have a knack for spotting price differences and wonder how you can profit by buying and reselling books?

You’re not alone with that, the online-book selling market is expanding, and it’s there to stay. So you might as well grab a piece of it.

We’ll show you how to sell books online to make a decent amount of extra profit.

And who knows, you might even be able to make an online business out of it!

Why You Should Consider Selling Books Online?

Selling books online is a well-established market, but what will you gain from joining it?

Here’s why it can be a good idea:

  • Low Starting Cost: Compared to bookselling in your local area, selling your books online is faster and more affordable. This allows you to begin even if you’re on a budget.
  • Ease and Convenience: Most platforms provide a user-friendly interface that allows you to sell your inventory in a few steps quickly. 
  • Bigger Audience: Selling books online will provide a much better scope of audience.
  • Scalability: Once you succeed online and secure enough funds, you can scale up your business by selling on more and more platforms. 

Problems With Selling Books Online

As appealing as the idea seems, it’s not a straight road to success. Here are the issues you might find with online bookselling:

  • Competition: Selling books online is a highly competitive market. There are hundreds of other sellers, some of which are already established and sought after.
  • Inventory Management: If you’re selling multiple books through multiple platforms, you’ll need an organized inventory system. Fortunately, this isn’t something to worry about too much initially, as you won’t need much space.
  • Shipping Costs: The shipping cost may not always be an issue since some platforms can cover that for you. However, that also means they may take a small portion of your earnings in exchange. Either way, you’ll have to set aside some money for shipping expenses.
  • Bad Reviews: When you get more exposure, you’ll be more susceptible to negative reviews.

What You’ll Need to Sell Books Online

Providing that you already have the books you want to sell, here are the other things that you’ll need:

  • A Platform of Choice: Various websites allow you to sell your books online, each with its own terms and conditions. The first step in online bookselling is finding a platform that’s suitable for you.
  • Advertisement: Your books could be of optimum quality, but they’ll get lost in the sea of other sellers if you don’t promote your business. You’ll need to invest in marketing to attract attention to what you do. Social media platforms like Facebook are excellent places to start. 
  • Shipping Materials: You’ll need boxes, tape, envelopes, and various other packing materials to keep your books in shape until they reach their customers. 
  • Inventory Management Space: Your home’s spare room may suffice at first, but soon you’ll be running out of space. Also, you’ll need inventory software to keep track of your stock, as doing so manually is time-consuming.

Where to Sell Books Online?

A good determination of how much you’ll make while selling books online comes down to where you sell the books. Here are a few of our favorites:

1. BookDeal

If you’re living in the US, BookDeal is arguably the best platform you can use to sell your books online.

The best thing about it is how easy it is for you to find a buyer. The customer service is also exceptionally fast, as you get a response within 10 minutes.

All you have to do is enter the 13-digit ISBN of your book into the website to get an instant quote.

The ISBN is a number you can find under the barcode of your book. BookDeal will give you a list of book buyers interested in your book so you can compare their prices.

Once you select the best offer, add your books to your seller’s cart, then select sell books. You’ll then be asked to choose the payment option that suits you best.

After you do that, print BookDeal’s shipping label and packing slip to enjoy their free shipping service. 

What Makes This Option Great

The best thing about BookDeal is how books already have buyers looking for them.

Once you add in the ISBN, you’ll instantly get a list of buyers. This will save a considerable amount of time since you won’t have to manually search for the best offer. 

  • Fees/Commissions: No selling or shipping fees as long as you’re using the BookDeal shipping label. If you want another shipping service, you’ll handle its cost accordingly
  • Payment Methods: PayPal (You’ll get paid five days after your books are delivered to the buyer), Venmo (Same payment processing time as PayPal), Zelle (Slightly longer payment processing time)

2. Amazon

It’s hard to talk about selling anything without mentioning Amazon. It may not be as free as BookDeals, but the audience is much larger, and the service is global.

And despite having a fee, you can easily sell all types of books, which is something you may struggle to do with BookDeals.

To sell books on Amazon, start by creating your seller account and selecting the suitable commission option (more on that in a second).

You’ll have to choose your fulfillment method; if you want Amazon to handle your shipping process for a fee, you can rely on the Fulfillment By Amazon or FBA plan.

If you want to handle everything yourself, choose the Merchant Fulfilled Network or MFN plan.

After that, you can proceed to the product listing and find a buyer. Once you have a deal, pack your books to the nearest Amazon fulfillment center to have them shipped.

What Makes This Option Great

Amazon is one of the biggest trading platforms on the planet. With some consistent effort, you can quickly start making a regular income by selling books there.

  • Fees/Commissions: $0.99 per book sale if you choose the individual plan and $39.99 per month if you choose the professional plan. The Amazon fulfillment fees, if applicable (based on the weight and dimensions of your product)
  • Payment Methods: Amazon Pay Account (funds get later deposited into your bank account)

3. BooksRun

Another fantastic option we have is BooksRun. It’s exceptional for selling or even renting college books.

Much like BookDeals, you’ll need the book’s ISBN to find your buyers. You get instant quotes, and the shipping is free.

And the payment time is shorter than that of BookDeals, as you can get paid just 2–4 days after the delivery of your books. 

The one issue, however, is how long the customer support team takes to respond.

With 48+ hours average response time, whatever problem you encounter will have to wait. 

What Makes This Option Great

BooksRun will serve you better than other online selling platforms if the majority of your books are school or college textbooks.

And since those aren’t sought after that much, you may find a hard time selling them anywhere else but not in BooksRun.

  • Fees/Commissions: No commissions or fees as long as you’re using the prepaid mailing label provided by BooksRun
  • Payment Methods: PayPal and Check

How To Sell Books Online: Step-By-Step Instructions

vector graphic showing an illustration of people learning how to sell books online

Here’s how to sell your books in seven simple steps. But keep in mind that each online platform may have its own specific step required.

Step 1: Secure the Books You Want to Sell

Whether by writing the books yourself, buying them, or trading them, you’ll need an inventory to get you started. 

If you’re not writing the books yourself and don’t have a stock of old books, you’ll need to utilize book flipping.

It’s a technique used by professional sellers where they seek books for sale at the lowest price (such as yard sales or thrift stores), then sell them back to someone for a higher price. It’s basically using the market difference to your advantage. 

The book conditions may vary, but it’s best to aim for ones with good conditions as they sell for extra cash. 

Step 2: Select a Platform and Find Buyers

You may select one of the bookselling sites mentioned earlier or settle for one of your own.

Finding buyers is more or less the same; you use the ISBN of your book(s) to find potential buyers who are interested in those particular kinds of books.

Step 3: Set Your Prices

Not every platform will allow you to set your own book pricing. Some of them will list the product price proposed by buyers, like BookDeals, while others allow you to determine the prices yourself, like Amazon.

While setting your prices, don’t forget to factor in the average price of that book in the market, the shipping price if applicable, and the fees/commissions of the platform if present.

Step 4: Start Selling

Most bookselling platforms allow you to place the books you want to sell inside the buyers’ carts. Once you do so, you may proceed to finalize the transaction.

Other platforms, like Amazon, don’t provide you with a list of buyers. Instead, they list your product online for those interested in buying it. Possible candidates would then add the books to the carts themselves.

Step 5: Advertise

Marketing your books can go a long way in raising awareness toward your trader name.

Advertising is especially important if you don’t add your books to the buyers’ carts like when you’re using Amazon, for example. 

Step 6: Pack and Ship

Once you secure a sale, it’s time to provide the goods. You may choose to handle the shipping costs yourself or utilize the platform’s free shipping service if applicable.

Step 7: Adapt as You Expand

Initially, you won’t have to worry too much about managing your stock. However, if you take online bookselling seriously, you’ll quickly find yourself running out of room and time.

You might need to invest in some storage space and inventory management software to keep up with your inventory needs. 

Things to Consider When Selling Books Online

Almost everything can be profitable if you follow certain considerations.

Here’s what you should keep in mind if you want your online bookselling business to prosper:

Target the Proper Audience With the Correct Genres

While any book type can be sold, not all books are in demand. Do your research to find the best-selling genres and focus your inventory around them.

Be Honest Regarding Your Books’ Conditions

Many online sellers overestimate the condition of their books. They’d misuse the fact that the buyer won’t be able to preview the books in person before delivery.

These can cause negative reviews to start piling up, and going back will be difficult.

Ship Your Orders on Time

If you’re not utilizing the platform’s shipping service, then you have to do everything you can for the delivery to be on time. Failing to meet your promises can result in negative reviews. 

Be Smart With Your Pricing

Keep your prices competitive. Monitor the book prices of the categories and genres you’re selling and try to give the customers offers they can’t refuse without hurting your profit. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Worth Trying to Sell Books Online?

Selling books online is guaranteed to be an extra form of income, so it’s mostly worth it.

However, unless you make an online bookselling business out of it, don’t expect it to be sufficient to be your sole income source.

What Type of Books Sells Best Online?

Non-fiction books like business, self-improvement, health, and cooking, as well as fiction books like romance and science fiction, seem to be the most sought-after genres of books online. 

Can You Make Money by Selling Old Books?

As long as the old books are in considerably good condition, you can make money by selling them, especially if they’re collectible books or antique books. 

Similar Tutorials to Check Out

If you’re interested in selling, but books aren’t your thing, check out these tutorials of other things you can sell for profit:

Wrapping Up

That was our quick guide on how to sell books online. The above guide is the fruit of hours of research, and should you apply it correctly, it’ll save hours of your own time.

Do let us know what you think in the comments. If this article helps you, why not share it and help someone else succeed too?

Leave a Comment

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