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Side Hustle Series: Selling books for money

by J. Money on Thursday, August 11, 2011

books on shelf
(Guest Post by Kylie Ofiu, as part of our Side Hustle Series)

I am an at home mum (now also author) with various side hustles, but one of the easiest ones I do is selling second hand books. I once bought a book for $24 and resold it for $85! I knew I would get a big price for it, which is the only reason I bought it. I started with just selling what I had, then as they sold easily I decided to research more about what was popular and sell that.

Where I Find My Books

I source my books from second hand/thrift stores, garage sales and very occasionally buy them online to resell them online (weird, I know!) I have researched a fair bit to know what books sell well. I have found the best ones in my area are about money, frugal living, self sustainability, pregnancy and parenting as well as a few select cook books. I have found the popular titles by seeing what is popular or talked about in forums I visit and by checking what has sold on eBay and for how much.

I look for slim books as they are cheaper to send. In Australia postage is very expensive in comparison to other countries. In fact it is often cheaper for us to purchase from overseas and pay that postage than to pay to have something posted from the same state as us. Slim books usually only cost the price of a large letter to post, whereas books that are slightly larger, weigh more or are hardbacks often cost $6 – $15 to post, which is often more than the price of the book.

Where I Sell My Books

I sell my books mainly through book sites, eBay, private  groups on facebook and yahoo groups which sell to each other as well as some classified sites. It took a bit of time to work out which books do best where, but now I know, it’s easy.

For the most part, the books just sit on a shelf I have and as I sell I buy more as well as saving some of the profits. I do keep the books I am selling separate from my personal books as it is easier to keep track. I also keep proper records of everything with a spreadsheet listing the book, cost price, sale price, fees, postage, profit, where it sold and how long it was listed. This helps me see what has been worth it as well as what sells quicker than others.

How Much I Make Selling Books

I don’t make enough for it to be a full time thing, but then I am also not trying to make it a full time job; I just do it for fun. It’s also a great way to read books I am interested in, then sell them. Some weeks I make a few hundred, other weeks $10; but it averages out to be a few thousand a year. If I listed more than a few books at once or wanted to spend more than 10 minutes a week on it I could definitely make more. Seriously, I only spend 10 minutes a week on it or a few hours a year. Not a bad return on my time.

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Kylie Ofiu is the author of 365Ways To Make Money and blogs over at Kylie Ofiu about ways to make and save money, as well as what she is doing.

(Photo by somegeekintn)


{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ShoeGal August 11, 2011 at 11:20 am

Great post. I have a few books I want to get rid of. But they are nothing special and you can buy them at any bookstore. I have been meaning to do it for some time but am worried that it will be a waste of time. Where do you research the books?

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2 Elise Adams August 11, 2011 at 11:24 am

Do you have a guide or how-to article on your best tips for doing this successfully? (I’d even buy a guide like this–hint, hint ;-)

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3 Uncle El August 11, 2011 at 11:38 am

I do this as well but I sell my old text books after I’m done with each semester. Would like to get more volume with regular books. I guess Ill start looking for some deals to resell.

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4 Kody @ Financial Money Tips August 11, 2011 at 12:48 pm

I don’t like selling my books, i like keeping a collection. However, i never thought about buying a book to flip for profit. That is a really good idea! I need to show my mom this article, she is a bookoholic :) I don’t know why, but this method has never crossed my mind.

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5 Natalie @ Mango August 11, 2011 at 1:04 pm

I do this too, but I’d never thought of trying Ebay, which, now that I think about it, seems rather obvious. I guess it’s because where I live we have Half Price Books– in fact, it is just a few minutes drive from my house– so it’s always been the go-to solution. They’re a used bookstore, and they also sell games, DVDs, gifts, calendars, etc. And so, not only can you sell them your old (and, please, gently used) books, but DVDs and games too. It’s my favorite bookstore. I work at Mango Money’s blog and we’re always looking for great ideas like this, so thanks for sharing! Stop by and check us out! http://www.mangomoney.com/blog/

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6 cashflowmantra August 11, 2011 at 3:21 pm

This sounds like a great idea and something that you enjoy. Congrats on making some extra money this way.

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7 Brandon Checketts August 11, 2011 at 5:47 pm

There are a lot of companies that buy books and will pay you via PayPal or check when they receive them. I created http://BookScouter.com/ as a way to quickly compare prices from all 40+ companies.

You can also sell them on sites like eBay or Amazon, but you have to list them and wait for somebody to buy them, which will sometimes take a while.

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8 Jennifer G. August 11, 2011 at 6:11 pm

This is my side hustle too! I go to thrift stores (about 6 within 10 miles of my work or home…which are quite far away from each other) about once every 6 weeks and spend an afternoon buying. I usually profit about $200 per month.

I do DVDs too. I sell a lot more of them, but the profit margin is a lot smaller.

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9 Kylie Ofiu August 11, 2011 at 6:49 pm

Glad you all like the idea.
@ShoeGal I research by checking what’s selling on eBay, also what books are talked about in forums I visit, that sort of thing.
@Elise, I was thinking of doing a more in depth how to guide on my blog soon.
@Uncle El, text books are great as well.
@Kody, I love books too. I have so many, and keep my favourites. I keep them separate to my ‘for sale’ books.
@Natalie, we don’t have Half Price Books in Australia. I have found though, that by listing them online, a lot of my sales are from out of my state, so it wouldn’t matter if there was one near me.
@cashflowmantra Thank you.
@Brandon Checketts, thanks for the tip
@Jennifer G. I do DVD’s too, but yeah, they tend to be slower and less of a mark up. Still good though!

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10 Michelle August 11, 2011 at 9:47 pm

I always buy my books used from either half.com or amazon. Then I always sell them back immediately and I usually make my money back or I make a profit!

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11 KylieOfiu August 12, 2011 at 5:21 am

That’s great Michelle!

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12 Mike August 14, 2011 at 11:04 am

I too am selling books. I have made several hundred dollars in the past couple of months as part of a blog experiment.
I’ve mainly subscribed to those “Book of the Month” clubs.
The most lucrative has been INSIGHT OUT. You buy 4 books for $1 each, plus shipping and handling.
Then you are on the hook for two additional books, before you can cancel.
For the $1 books, I purchased expensive photography books, which re-sold on Amazon for $70 each. 70 x 4 = $280.
Then, I fulfilled the purchase committment, buying two $10.95 books. They resold too.

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13 J. Money August 14, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Thanks for sharing your side hustle with us, Kylie! Helped out a lot while I was away on vacay :) And all *great* info to know for anyone trying to get in the game! I’m too lazy myself (and just not all that interested), but it seems like you could really kill it once you got up and running smoothly. Congrats on workin’ it!

@Mike – That’s hot, man! Wow, good hustlin’ over there. Love that you made it a blogging experiment too – those are the best :)

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14 Kylie Ofiu August 14, 2011 at 6:48 pm

Wow Mike, that’s fantastic!

Thanks for having me J$

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15 diane August 20, 2011 at 9:48 pm

I am so excited with this article…i just sold 2 textbooks tonight and will make 50.00 :) If it wasnt for this article i would have never know about this. Thanks as I am struggling lately with a new baby due in January!

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16 diane August 20, 2011 at 9:50 pm

Also wondering besides text books…what else sells good?

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17 J. Money August 22, 2011 at 11:16 pm

Congrats w/ your $50 win! That’s great :)

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18 average guy March 8, 2012 at 12:17 pm

what was not mentioned…
there is/are a smart phone app that will scan the ISBN of a book and research its price on-line. So I see several people at book fairs, thrift stores, yard sales, used book stores, and when libraries sell off their unwanted books using their smart phones.

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19 J. Money March 9, 2012 at 9:30 am

Oh yeah, def. another good idea!

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