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Selling Old Books on Amazon

AmazonI came across a video the other day on how to sell things on Amazon (yes, I’m late to the Amazon party). I’ve always used Amazon to buy things but never to sell anything.

For those of you who were clueless (like me) about selling things on Amazon, embedded below is a concise and informative video on how to do it.

The day before my power outage, I placed several books and DVDs for sale on Amazon. Amazon has a 60 day renewal time frame. In other words if it doesn’t sell in 60 days you have the option to renew the listing. 60 days seemed like a long time so I didn’t expect to sell anything for at least the first 60 days.

Imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning and received an email notification that one of my items sold! Granted, the book only sold for $5.49, but it’s better to sell it for $5.49 than have it sit on my shelf collecting dust.

Our local library has become somewhat picky about donations and I don’t blame them. They receive so many old donated books that they get a bit overwhelmed. This secondary option of selling them on Amazon isn’t so bad at all.

{ 39 comments… add one }
  • cashflowmantra November 3, 2011, 7:39 am

    I have also never sold anything on Amazon. I have been taking my old magazines to Half Price Books and getting a little for those. I have yet to do that with books, but it may be a good idea to sell through Amazon. I also have a lot of DVDs that were used for kids growing up. My youngest is now 11 so many could be sold. I may just work on that and use the money to pay off some debt.

    • Felicia November 3, 2011, 7:45 am

      Absolutely! I’ve got a ton of books, DVDs, video games and (dare I say) VHS tapes. I’m not so sure the VHS tapes will sell, but they are “collectors editions” of some of the Disney movies. The problem is, most folks don’t use VCRs anymore. I’ll put a few up there to see whether or not they sell. I’ll sell all but the Fantasia VHS. Just can’t part with that one. 🙂

      It is a painless way to help pay off debt.

  • Ken November 3, 2011, 9:56 am

    Hi all,

    I’ve done it before, especially with school books and other stuff laying around that I don’t necessarily want anymore. It’s difficult sometimes because your price has to be competitive (Amazon will show you the low and high price of the same item that others are selling) but also have to sell for a high enough margin to cover shipping, make a profit and have it be worth your time.

    That being said…it is highly worth it if you can sell more than one item at a time. That way you’re back and forth to the post office. I’ve made great sells there and some really bad ones. LOL…one of the books I have listed for $5.00 is competing with some that are being sold for pennies…literally.

    I told all the people I work with to bring in their old college books and what not and I was able to build an inventory that way. Some wanted a percentage and others didn’t want a thing except to get rid of…hey, you know what…this is a great “Work At Home Dad’s” post. I’m gonna’ shut up…LOL!

    • Felicia November 3, 2011, 10:11 am

      Yeah, it does make sense to sell more than one at a time. Just for that reason I’ve been exploring other shipping options. There are several options where I can have the package picked up from my house.

      Since this is my first sale, I’m going through the old fashioned drive to the post office routine. However, if I start to sell a lot of things, I’m going to have them pick it up.

      As far as the pricing goes, I see what you mean. There are folks selling things for pennies. Good for them. I’m not in a rush to sell these things so I list them at a fair price. The book I just sold for $5.49 was competing with the penny folks. Imagine that?

      • Dianne November 6, 2011, 12:22 am

        People probably didn’t trust the penny site, lol.
        I have some old textbooks that I want to sell but I didn’t know if Amazon was the right place for me. Your post is pretty encouraging.

        • Lissie November 8, 2011, 12:00 pm

          Wow the PO does pick ups – that’s service! There is a local NZ site which is NZ’s equivalent of eBay and I think it has single-handedly saved the NZ Post parcel service – because of the volumn of old books etc being shipped around the country!

  • Crystal November 3, 2011, 11:14 am

    Congrats on your sale! I’m going to have to look into this. My mom sold a ton of books through Amazon several years ago. She had so many, she used crates of books as a bed platform in the place of a bed frame:)

    Another way that I’ve sold a lot of books is through BookScouter.com. You just type in your ISBNs to see if any sites are paying for your books. Most of mine have sold to Powell’s, which also has an even cooler feature on their site that lets you type in your whole list of ISBNs at once.

    I’ve also traded books at TitleTrader.com. You don’t get money and you have to pay the shipping on the books you send out, but you get points for each send that you can redeem for books sent to you free. How does this fit in with getting rid of books? Well, I’ve gotten several new-condition books that I ordered as gifts. So for the price of postage (usually around $2) I have a nice gift. For instance, a couple of years ago I got age-appropriate copies of Chicken Soup books for the teen and preteen grandkids.

    • Felicia November 3, 2011, 11:32 am

      Wow, Crystal, I didn’t even know. This is a whole new world for me.

      I just came back from the post office. In total, my $5.49 book yielded me $6.27. It would have yielded $7.07 but I threw in the extra 80 cents for delivery confirmation. 🙂

      You’ve given me more stuff to check out. Thanks.

      • Crystal November 3, 2011, 11:48 am

        I also ALWAYS opt for delivery confirmation. Not sure how you could do this with your Amazon book sales, but if you can figure out to print prepaid mailing labels, the delivery confirmation should only cost 19 cents. I print prepaid labels through PayPal for things that are paid through them, which works really great beings I’m not usually the one taking my stuff to the PO. I think you can sign up and do the same thing on usps.com, however, but I don’t know how that all works.

        • Felicia November 3, 2011, 11:54 am

          Thanks, Crystal. This is all so new to me. I’ve got some learning and investigating to do. At least I know who to go to when I have questions. 🙂

  • Deb November 3, 2011, 12:17 pm

    I’m in the middle of packing up china I sold on eBay. Keep in mind, if you go this route, that those states where the truck has to go up mountains — cost a heck of a lot more. I just way undercharged on shipping and am having to eat it. I should know better.

    That’s great about your books!

    • Felicia November 3, 2011, 12:24 pm

      Wow, that’s something to consider. At this point in time I’m selling stuff that’s easy to ship; books, CDs, DVDs and the like.

      Before I went to the post office, I checked the US Post Office site for shipping rates and thought I had undercharged. I was ready to go back to all of my items and increase the price by $1.50, but fortunately, I didn’t have to. I was pleasantly surprised to find the actual shipping charges were cheaper than they had listed online.

  • Deanna November 3, 2011, 12:23 pm

    My daughter buys and sells many of her college books on Amazon – it saves quite a bit of money. I read a lot, so instead of buying and selling my books I trade them with other people on the site Paperbackswap. You only pay the cost of postage to send a book and then you get credits to order a book. They have sites for CDs and DVDs too. Since so many books today are trade paperbacks and cost up to $18 a book, swapping is a good way to read what you want without the high price. 🙂

    • Felicia November 3, 2011, 12:28 pm

      Boy, I’m finding out about so many great sites! Thanks, Deanna.

      I usually get 99% of my books from the library. I think I’ve got a great library system. For a while we were thinking of relocating. One of the prerequisites for choosing a location was the library system. I’ve gotten spoiled with ours. Needless to say, we didn’t move (not because of the library system).

      On rare occasions when my library doesn’t have a book, I order it on Amazon, but now that you guys have shared so many great sites, I might try those before buying the book. Although, there are some books that you need to buy and keep in your own private library forever. 🙂

      • Crystal November 3, 2011, 1:28 pm

        I’m also a member of Paperbackswap and have had good luck there, as well. Not so much in moving my books out, but in finding specific books that I wanted to read. All in all, however, I find TitleTrader’s system to be much easier to navigete so I usually spend more time there if I’m just browsing.

        Not to look like a total TitleTrader groupie but another thing I forgot to mention is that you can post all kinds of stuff. But I don’t know much about it as I’ve never done so from either the sending or receiving side.

  • Cassie Tuttle November 4, 2011, 4:31 am

    Hi Felicia!

    I have a stack of books sitting on my dining room table that I was going to list on Paperbackswap.com (mentioned above by Deanna). I like using that service because I can get free books in return. However, I like the idea of making a little bit of money, if I can. And based on the the video you posted, selling on Amazon looks really simple.

    I’m going to give it a try — with that stack of books in the dining room, as wells as various CDs and DVDs.


    • Felicia November 4, 2011, 6:17 am

      Cassie, I was surprised at how easy it was to list the items. Just list the ISBN and most of the work is done.

      I woke up this morning to find another book has sold. I’ve got two business days to ship the books, so I might wait until Monday to ship them (unless I’m in the vicinity of the post office over the weekend). Hopefully more books will sell over the weekend so I can ship them all on Monday.

      The convenient thing is the post office is located a block away from the library, and I’m frequently at the library.

      I’m really tickled about this book selling thing. 🙂

      • Crystal November 4, 2011, 11:04 am

        NOW I remember why I never tried to sell any books on Amazon – with a 50 mile RT to the PO, I just can’t commit to shipping within two business days. Thanks for mentioning that requirement, Felicia – you saved me the time of rediscovering it myself:)

        • Felicia November 4, 2011, 11:50 am

          Yowza! 50 mile round trip to the post office? Oh that’s sooo not worth it for you. My post office is about 2 1/2 miles away.

          • Crystal November 4, 2011, 12:13 pm

            Yes, the PO is quite a ways away. Someone always goes at least once a week to mail off the jewelry orders – except when we’re totally snowed in and they have to snowshoe 5+ miles to get to the paved County road (usually at least once every couple of years) or we have a 100,000 acre fire burning all around us (our fun fall 2006) – but there are so many things that can delay us here that I need more flexibility than Amazon offers. The beauty of living here, however, FAR outweighs any minor inconvenience:)

          • Felicia November 4, 2011, 12:37 pm

            Wow! I can’t even imagine a 5-mile snowshoe hike. In spite of it all, it sounds like you’re living in a beautiful area.

          • Crystal November 4, 2011, 1:13 pm

            Agreed and agreed, Felicia. Those grueling snowshoe trips are when I figure it’s a good day to be a girl:)

  • Lola T November 4, 2011, 8:54 am

    I’ve got a lot of books, and I’m still finding a book that I’ll enjoy reading it. Thanks for this post. I know where to buy books now.

  • Grandma November 4, 2011, 10:18 am

    You should be able to ship books at a low media mail rate if there is nothing “first class” inside, like a letter. Ages ago I sold a lot of books on eBay rather than trying for pennies at yard sales or resale stores. They were older books my father had collected and they sold for about an average of $10 each on eBay, some a lot more. One was even used in a Walt Disney movie, The Greatest Game.

  • Joni November 4, 2011, 1:47 pm

    I have made over $300 in last six months selling my books to Barnes and Noble and Cash4books.com. I have a LOT of books. I sold a lot of text books and literature books for B&N; especially literature books. English and psychology books last longer (there is not a lot of change). However I also sold “regular” books in both places.

    I tried a new place the other day called sellbackyourBook.com and made $20.00. They also have a sister site called sellbackyourDVDs.com (I am going to try that one today).

    I also made 15.00 on Barnes and Noble the same day.

    What is especially great is that they pay for postage! You simple print out the mailing label and put it on the box of books. I request for my payment to come to Pay Pal but you can get paid with a check. It takes longer for a check to be mailed to you.

    There is one hook: at Barnes and Noble you must have at least $10.00 worth of books. And at sellyourBook.com you must have $5.00 worth.

    But at Cash4books.com there is no limit. There are also many other places that buy books but when I checked them out they paid far lower than the three above.

    One more point, when I was selling like crazy 6 months ago, I listed all my books and some did not sell. But now, the ones that were not selling then have since sold. So I guess it is the demand. I have at least 200 books left so I am keeping a list of the title and ISBN so if they don’t sell now I’ll try again in a few months or go to Amazon and other places.

    It really surprised me that I sold so much and to me, the best part is the FREE SHIPPING. Depending on the amount you make you can choose the Post Office, UPS or Fed EX.

    Good Luck,

    • Felicia November 4, 2011, 1:58 pm

      Wow, Joni. My head is exploding. You guys have given me so many options. I feel like a kid in a candy store!

      I have a ton of books here that I can sell so I’m going to spread a few of them out over some of the sites you guys have told me about. I guess I need to get a bit more organized.
      I recently listed 44 books on Amazon and have sold 2 so far. Once I spread the love around over a few of the options, I can see which ones work best for the types of books I have.

      I think I’ve found a new hobby! 🙂

      • Crystal November 4, 2011, 2:59 pm

        This is great info, Joni! The lack of minimum at Cash4Books is really good news to me. There have been a couple of times when I’ve been known to sneak about the house looking for just one more book to meet a minimum . . .

        I’m glad to see that the sites you recommend are all listed as vendors on BookScouter. I really like being able to go one place and see what the offers are from multiples sites.

        The super-cool thing I noticed just now on the Cash4Books site is that they’ll consider matching a competitor’s price if you email a request. Also, for first timers, they say they’ll return your books at no cost if the books don’t meet their condition guidelines – again, you have to request it.

        Speaking of condition guidelines, a caution to anyone considering selling books this way – ALWAYS read and follow the guidelines, and don’t send any book that you are not 100% sure meets all the criteria. I had one book rejected by Powell’s that I am sure was perfect – and it was in demand at the time so I could have sold it elsewhere. But there’s nothing that can be done now as Powell’s (and many other sites) just dispose of rejected books.

        Well, my adult-onset ADD has a hold of me again! and I’m off to find some ISBNs to check!

  • Joni November 4, 2011, 7:27 pm

    I was finally able to help…it feels good…LOL. Also inre Cash4books, every few months they will send you a coupon if you have done business with them and it will say:
    Send Us At Least 3 books to sell and we will give you $5.00 extra. I have done that twice. A few times my ADD flared up and I forgot b/c they usually one give you a few weeks to do it.

    I have also downloaded a 500 book list from Cash4books and when I would go to yard sales, etc. I would look for them. They say their list is always changing depending on what is in demand. You can also buy books from them.

    This is interesting info. A few of the places ya’ll have mentioned I have not heard of before.

    I’m having fun on a Friday night….


    • Crystal November 5, 2011, 10:31 am

      Thanks for the additional info, Joni. Did you know they also have an affiliate program? And there’s an app to price check books that you can download to your smartphone, if you have one (I don’t and my phone still outsmarts me!). Also, the books for sale at the parent site, MKZbooks.com, are very reasonably priced and you get free shipping on orders over $25. This is all so exciting! Now I just have to remember that I’m supposed to be getting rid of books, not adding more:)

  • Duat Evelyn November 5, 2011, 7:37 am

    Selling old item’s through Amazon is a good experience thou I never tried it I know that many people will surely love it specially when they learn how things work.

  • Crystal November 5, 2011, 10:58 am

    Thanks to this post, Felicia, I’m finally getting a copy of “Who Moved My Cheese?” – for free! How cool is that? Long story short, I saw it while browsing MKZbooks and actually had my finger poised to press the order button when I realized I should check my swap sites. Duh. It was available on both PaperBackSwap and TitleTrader:)

    • Felicia November 5, 2011, 11:07 am

      Good for you. You’re going to enjoy the book. I just came across another book that’s an easy read with a poignant message. The name of the book is “Twelve Pillars” by Jim Rohn.

      Check it out if you get a chance.

      Edit: I don’t think you really need to read the book you because you seem to get it. When I say “get it” I mean you seem to understand the really important things in life. However, it’s a good recommended reading if you come across someone who looks like they need a quick lesson on life.

      • Crystal November 5, 2011, 12:43 pm

        Thanks for the suggestion! I checked on my book swap sites with no luck but will keep my eyes peeled for this book. I’d love to read it and can then pass it on:)

  • Gip @ So Much More Life November 5, 2011, 2:34 pm

    As you know, I made a career of selling on Amazon for about five years. At least most of my sales were on Amazon, but I sold on Half.com, eBay and lots of other places too.

    Like making money writing, it’s a bit addictive. And it can be lucrative too.

    • Felicia November 7, 2011, 6:08 am

      Gip, I knew you had a book selling business, but I didn’t realize it was through Amazon.

      Although I’m enjoying the ability to sell some of my old books, I’m not so sure if it’s going to be very lucrative for me. I’ve only sold two books so far which means two separate trips to the post office. I’m not so sure that traipsing back and forth to the post office is the best use of my time. I’ll see how things develop.

  • Cece November 10, 2011, 10:34 am

    Incredible info. Thanks so much, all of you. Here I am with a bunch of books, a boys’ unused xbox etc. video games, DVD’s, etc., my need for work from home. And I am an easy WALK to the P.O. I had no idea. You are precious gems!

  • Deb November 10, 2011, 4:36 pm

    I just made another $36. totally free — Any of you can do it. When I was teaching, I made a habit of cutting off those Box Tops for Education rectangles from toilet tissue, soup cans and other items. Campbell’s Soup, too. After accumulating them for a year or so, I just listed them on eBay. It’s amazing what mothers who don’t have time to save them or who just don’t cook will pay for them so their children can win whatever it is the schools are offering.

    I donated them for years and years. Right now, the schools where my nieces and nephews go aren’t collecting them — so it’s free money for me.

    Now, what to do with the $85. worth of frozen cookie dough that’s coming in this weekend from the school fundraisers I DID buy!

    • Felicia November 11, 2011, 8:06 am

      What an idea. I used to collect box tops for my kids’ school, but now that they’re older I stopped. That’s a nice suggestion.

  • ShelleyD November 22, 2011, 8:39 am

    In the past, I sold the majority of my college texts via Amazon. One thing you have to be careful of is that what I might deem in “good condition”, someone else might consider “poor”. There are guidelines, but it can often be a fine line. Negative feedback can hurt your reputation as a seller.

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