How I Sell Books Online

After writing about my 2012 online income I received a question about selling books and thought I’d write a quick post to answer it. Last year I earned just under $125 selling books to book buying companies. (The numbers in my original post were slightly off.) I also earned an additional $24 selling books on eBay.

I sold a total of 35 books, which resulted in a piddly average of $4.25 earned per book. In actuality I sold some for over $10 and one for as little as $2.16.

I received the majority of books directly from publishers. They send me a book and I write an honest review of it. It’s a win-win situation, publishers receive additional press and I receive free books to read. I also won a couple of books in online blog contests and received some as gifts from friends and family.

Okay, so now you know that I didn’t pay for any of these books. They come free in one form or another and I typically sell them to book buying websites. I prefer these sites to Amazon and for two reasons. First, I can ship the books without waiting for someone to buy them. I know this may sound like a silly reason, but my husband and I travel back and forth to North Carolina quite a bit. I don’t want an item to sell while I’m away and unable to ship it. Second, after I subtract the fees from many of these sites my net result is similar to the amount of money I would have earned through direct sales.

I believe and both charge 15% for online book sales and eBay charges at least 9%. Add to that the fees deducted from PayPal payments and it’s usually only a dollar or two difference between selling directly and shipping all my books off at once to a book-buying service. Amazon discounts books a lot these days so in general I find books selling for less and less in the secondary market.

There are a ton of book-buying sites out there, so I use to figure out which sites will pay me the most money. Simply enter the ISBN of one of your books and it will scour 44 sites to find the best price. Last year I sold primarily to four sites including BookJingle, SellBackYourBook, Cash4Books and TextBooksRUs. Most sites will match prices, but for the most part I find that during any particular point in time one site will offer higher prices on almost all of the books I’m trying to sell.

I’ve been selling books like this for years and I’ve encountered a problem one time. I once sold a large box of books to Powell’s and did not receive payment for one of the books I shipped. Powell’s doesn’t pay much for books, but it does take a lot of novels that other sites don’t seem particularly interested in.

All in all selling books earned me an easy $150 last year. I may have been able to earn even more by selling directly via or Amazon, but it certainly wouldn’t have been as easy.

What do you think? Do you sell your books online and if so where do you typically list them?

5 thoughts on “How I Sell Books Online”

  1. I cannot thank you enough for this post!! it is so timely as just this past weekend i was thinking i need to sell my books! this is great and I will be able to get rid of them faster. i had no idea about selling books on any site other than so I’m looking forward to trying this out.

  2. I used to sell books online but I found that the hassle was hardly worth it so I switched to Paperback Swap.

    As someone who works in publishing, though, I’m sad to hear that you are selling books that are sent to you for free. My policy on books I get for free is to pass them on for free – I don’t make a profit on them.

    • Actually I used to list them on, but someone who used to select my books once emailed me and said that people search that site for books to sell. They list books that no one will buy, but request books that still have a decent resale value. I figured if someone was going to make a profit off of them it might as well be me.

      Your industry must be suffering though. Amazon prices seem to be dropping significantly.

      • I can’t figure out how Amazon makes any money at all. I read an article that said Amazon lost tons more money in 2012 than they made!! Regardless, I am an author (just novice, self-published), but I would not think ANYTHING of someone receiving my books as gifts then reselling them. I think it’s fine and anything in your possession is yours and you can do whatever you want with it, by law and by life.

        thx for posting this as I have been trying to sell on amazon and it’s taking me forever to get customers. I think I’ll stick around this blog a while.


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