Selling used books is a good way to declutter your home and get some money for books that you probably won’t read again. This is even more important for college students because you could sell textbooks for a lot more than normal books, but you’ll have to do it quick because textbooks become outdated and thus worthless very quickly.
Places To Sell Your Used Books And Textbooks Online
Last week, I received the following comment from LuLu Malou regarding selling used books on Amazon on my income ideas article:
Selling on Amazon.com used to be a good idea but now they take most of your profits. I’m looking for a better alternative to Amazon. Any ideas?
In response to her question, I did a bit of online investigation and did the comparisons below. Please note these sites work well for your typical textbooks and books, but not rare books.
Scenario 1 – Selling three textbooks:
- 0131747428 – Developing Management Skills (Paperback)
- 0072826959 – Dinosaurs: The Textbook (Paperback)
- 0470078359 – Management (Wse) (Hardcover)
|Amazon, used lowest||$65.00||$55.00||$65.79||$61.93|
|We Buy Your Books||$21.13||$16.50||$21.38||$19.67|
From the table above, it appears that Amazon still offers the best price for selling used book. But remember that you are not guaranteed a sale when you are using Amazon because you are only using it as a marketplace — i.e., you are not selling to Amazon directly. Secondly, it’s worth shopping around when it comes to selling used textbooks due to the price variation. For example, note that BookByte.com offers the best average price, but not the best prices on all three books. Lastly, there are other factors not included in this study — i.e., shipping costs (some offers free shipping), payment options and promptness, customer service, etc.
Scenario 2 – Selling three regular books:
- 0312339879 – The Only Guide to a Winning Investment Strategy You’ll Ever Need: The Way Smart Money Preserves Wealth Today (Hardcover)
- 0553805096 – The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life (Hardcover)
- 047015263X – The Panic of 1907: Lessons Learned from the Market’s Perfect Storm (Hardcover)
|Amazon, used lowest||$5.21||NA||$15.96||$10.59|
|We Buy Your Books||$1.56||$10.92||$7.34||$6.61|
Note that there are fewer places that accept regular books. This is expected due to low demand and resale value of most books. Again, Amazon seems to be the best place and there are a lot of price variations.
Other Things You Could Do With Your Books
Of course, you don’t have to sell your books and there are plenty of things you could do:
- Keep them. Of course!
- Give certain ones away as gifts to friends and family.
- Swap your books with others: PaperBackSwap.com, BookMooch, etc.
- Sell your books at local bookstores
- Sell or donate your books at thrift stores
- Donate your books to charities
- Donate your books to libraries
Here are ideas so that you don’t have to buy books in the first place:
- Use your library
- Borrow from friends and family
- Rent your textbooks instead of buying
- Read stuff on the Internet
That’s it! If you have additional ideas on where to sell books, buy them cheap, or get them for free, please share with us!
Pinyo Bhulipongsanon is the owner of Moolanomy Personal Finance and a Realtor® licensed in Virginia and Maryland. Over the past 20 years, Pinyo has enjoyed a diverse career as an investor, entrepreneur, business executive, educator, financial literacy author, and Realtor®.
Even though places such as Amazon and eBay take a pretty good cut of your sales, it’s usually worth going with them, because they attract the largest market, and you’ll move your books faster. Go where your customers are, they say.
That said, I usually just dump my books on the library or take them into the used bookstore. 😉
I have a huge library of books in my cube at work full of text books that i used during undergrad and a bunch I have been using for grad classes. People always walk by my cube and comment on how many books I have, thus, creating a false perception. HAHAH. Regardless, I have tried dumping them on eBay and Amazon but to very little success. Most of my textbooks end up being older editions by the time I sell them. Boo to the college textbook system they need to put stuff online more for classes but then they would… Read more »
I remember (I’m dating myself a bit here) back in college trying to figure this out because the internet wasn’t SO hot yet and I recall seeing flyers around campus to sell the books back to the bookstore at like 15% – everyone just gave in because SOMETHING was better than NOTHING. The bookstore just turned around and sold them again at 90% of what they originally sold them for. Grr….
@Lindsay — Yeah, it’s hard to beat Amazon to get your books in front of potential customers.
@Doctor S — Yeah, textbooks get out-of-date very quickly by design. Both the professors/authors and the publishing house definitely has it all worked out very well for them.
@Hank — Campus store is the worst place to buy/sell anything — sorry. 🙂
You can use bigwords.com to compare a bunch of places at once. You can use that site for either buying to selling. Half.com is also a good place to sell books and as of the last time I checked, they take less of a cut than Amazon.
Bookmooch rocks (I only use it for non-textbooks)!
If you are an avid reader in multiple genres and don’t always want to read only the latest bestseller its a better deal.
@Frugal Vet — bigwords.com looks good aside from the mild usability issue. Thank you for sharing.
BookScouter.com was created specifically to do these price comparisons quickly. It compares prices from all of the sites you mentioned here (except amazon) plus a bunch of others. Although you seem to have included all of the major ones.
@Brandon — Thank you for sharing. I think your site is better for buying as opposed to selling because you show the purchase prices, but I’d still have to visit each vendor to check how much I could sell the book for.
@Pinyo – BookScouter is specifically for selling books, and doesn’t have any prices for buying them. I’m not sure how you got the impression that it was for buying books. Is that unclear on the site?
Okay, I see that now. I thought the “Price” was the buying price and I had to click on the “Sell Here” to check the sell price. Good job Brandon!
The problem with BookScouter is there’s no way to tell which will pay promptly if at all. The top payers can be real problems.
@Elgin – BookScouter does have user-submitted feedback, which does a decent job of letting you know which sites are questionable. There is getting to be enough sites listed on there now, that I’m thinking of only listing the most reliable ones by default, but still allowing the user to view all of the others with another click.
I will pipe in for bookscouter, it is a great site to compare since buyback websites change how much they pay often. Although amazon will get you more, the book can sit on the shelf for ages and not get bought, and if you think about the shipping supplies you will need to package a single book, opposed to selling many books to one buyback site. Also amazon charges commision and a per book charge, so if you sell a book you will pay $.99 plus 15% to amazon on ever single book you sell, if you sell 10 books… Read more »
Thank you so much for such a thorough discussion on this topic!
Nice comparison. If I’m reading the chart right, these are the sale prices pre-commission (which applies to at least some of the sites)… I wonder to what extent that would affect the rankings.
Powell’s Books online
Not just some faceless internet megastore. Particularly good for selling obscure academic titles. For example 0-12-544420-6.
Sorry for the previous bad example ISBN. 0070728070
I can suggest another option for selling non-text books that I have used with much success in the past. Put a collection of books together and post them as a lot on craigslist. This works well for books that you can’t sell individually because they just aren’t worth anything. Plus there are no commissions or shipping charges for craigslist. It seems to work well if you can put together something that has a theme, like a mystery box or a literary classics box etc. You still won’t get a lot of money for them, but if you just want them… Read more »
It’s kind of weird, but people just jump on this. And it is actually less of a hassle than dealing with them individually, since they all go in a single transaction. Plus you don’t have to wait to get paid, you get cash in hand when you turn over the box. I’ve done two boxes this way (~60 paperbacks total) and I’ve got another box I’m going to post next week.
Being a college student, I have found that either way you get ripped off 🙁 …needless to say after I have sold to places like amazon and the local bookstore I found the best to be @ osochill.com/textbooks. Check it out, hope you get more cash for your books like i have! 🙂
Actually, there is a web community http://www.bookletin.com that helps students to sell and buy their textbooks in colleges. it’s a free service and easy to use.
What if you have books pre ISBN? I have about 100 ranging from religion to poetry, fact and fiction as well as old school library books on various subjects, mostly books on snakes. Most still have the library stamp and some have the check out cards. Any ideas on where to sell these besides eBay and other sites that take what little money you might make on the sale? Thanks all, Anton
Another place to check out: http://studentsmetro.com/textbooks/ If you search for a book, it shows Amazon and Ebay results with textbooks that re for sale by other students.
Selling used books on net has always remained a question with a big confusion for me….i went through the ratings of different sites above and figured out that http://www.a1books.co.in, a US based Indian online book market’s name has not been mentioned.
about 2 months back I sold my “Advanced Architecture” book which was in pretty good condition and I got the price I wanted for it….I just couriered it to them.
Happy selling guys….go beyond the amazon thing and try the new players…they are giving out there best to beat the competition….take the advantage… 🙂