Selling Used Books on eBay

Used books are big sellers on eBay and this is a very easy way to make money on eBay –and its an easy business to start. There are dozens of sellers on eBay making over $1000 a week selling used books.

Unless you are an expert, forget about novels, literature and rare expensive books. Any used book store owner will tell you their daily bread & butter is non-fiction books on art, antiques, collectibles, photography, crafts, cooking, history, regional subjects, sports, cars, trains, motorcycles, music and children’s books. The same is true on eBay. You can buy plenty of these books at garage sales, flea markets, and thrift stores.

The best books to sell are the large “coffee table” editions on transportation and sports. I recently purchased a beautiful history of Porsche motor cars at a local thrift shop for $1. It sold on eBay for $29. I was browsing the closeout table at Barnes & Noble just after Christmas and bought a brand new marked-down History of The Superbowl for $5.99. It sold on eBay for $17.50.

Stay away from book club editions and series books such as The Time-Life books, unless you have a complete set in perfect condition. I once found the complete Time-Life Photography series at a used bookstore for $65. I sold it on eBay for $122.00. That was less than I hoped to get –but still a nice profit.

Other good books are the “How to draw” or How to Paint” instructional books, Children’s pop-up books (only in perfect condition) and hardcover books about quilts and quilting.

Buy only books in good condition, preferably with an intact dust jacket. Never pay more than 30% of what you think they will sell for, and no more than 20% of the original cover price. You can find plenty of books at garage sales for less than $2 that will sell on eBay for $10 or more. Stay away from books that would sell for less than $10, otherwise you will have to sell dozens of books every week to make a decent income.

A great way to find books to sell is to place a small classified ad in your local paper that says:

Local dealer will pay top dollar
for used non-fiction books in good condition.
Call Sarah at 666-555-1111

Other places to find books are thrift shops, book fairs (buy in bulk to get good prices), local auctions, estate sales and used book stores.

Used book stores sell books at close to the value they would sell on eBay, but they always have bargains if you know what to look for. For example, people who live in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest collect books on regional subjects like local history, geography, American Indians from that region and Eskimos.

If you find a book in a book store on those subjects in Chicago or Pittsburgh they will sell for very little because there is no local interest. But when you put those books on eBay people from Washington, Oregon and Alaska will buy them for top dollar. I once found a beautiful book on the history of Rodeo in a used book store in Boston that I bought for $5 – I guess not a lot of people in Boston follow Rodeo. I sold the book on eBay for $37 to a collector in Arizona. He emailed me back and told me that the book sold for over $50 used in Tucson bookstores and he was all excited to get it for $37.

I also often see great books selling on eBay that go for much less than they are worth because the seller didn’t describe it correctly or used the wrong keywords in the title or had the auction end in the middle of the night when no one was awake.

Here is an example. I had a very poor copy of a famous book on Sailboat racing. I had paid over $10 for it on eBay. Later I saw a perfect copy on eBay and managed to buy it for his starting bid of $4.99. I kept the perfect copy which was worth over $25 and sold my old copy for $12.65. The seller did a poor job of describing the book. I had to send him 3 emails to get all of the information I needed to learn it was really a perfect book and a first edition, which my copy was not. No one else bid. In this case I wanted to keep the book, but I could have easily sold it on eBay for $25 or possibly more.

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