If you are looking to make extra money or start a new side hustle, then flipping books for a profit might interest you.
And the cool thing about selling used books? Generally, anyone with a few bucks can do it and get started!
If you have access to yard sales, thrift stores, antique stores, or even something like Facebook Marketplace — you’ll have access to scooping up books for super cheap.
In this article, you’ll find tips, insights, and important things to keep in mind if you want to start making money selling books.
Table of Contents
Can You Make Money Flipping Books?
As with any side hustle or new business, flipping books is not solely passive income at the beginning. While it’s not as large scale as flipping houses, as your book inventory increases, so does the extra cash.
The profits you can make from selling books depends on the genre, alongside the book availability and the price you purchased the book. But if you choose the books correctly, you can get a decent profit margin compared to what you paid.
You can probably expect to make a few hundred bucks per month or even turn it into a business. For example, some successful individuals within this space are reportedly earning around $6,000+ a month just from flipping books!
How much time does flipping books take?
This really depends on how efficient your process is, and how much time you have to spare.
An experienced bookseller using all of the right software can spend approximately 1-2+ hours searching through books per day. And not just at random yard sales, profitable books can be in various locations or even online.
The research and finding books will be the most time-consuming aspect, until you get into a good rhythm and know what to look for. Additionally, you will spend time listing books, shipping or setting up an online marketplace to sell your secondhand books.
Once you have that set up though, you could begin to use the platform and extend it to flipping thrift store clothing, furniture, and more.
How to Choose Books to Resell for Profit?
Textbooks are a very popular book flip option. It works because there is new demand every single year for students studying the same courses, with the same recommended books.
Enabling book flippers to buy low (from the graduating classes), sell high (to the incoming classes). Plus, with 19 million+ students enrolling in colleges each year, the textbook choices are endless.
Back in college, I actually worked for a company that acquired textbooks from students. I got to scan the barcodes and then I would provide cash on the spot. I was paid a commission based on the number of books I bought back but was always a nice check for about two weeks of work each semester.
Most textbooks fetched more money than the book store, so word got around quick. Needless to say, the school bookstore was not a fan, but they shouldn’t have been ripping off students on ridiculously low buyback offers.
Where to sell textbooks?
First Editions & Rare Books
First edition books are another great choice, as they’ll often bring in higher profits than textbooks. This is because they are in low supply. But, not all first editions fetch high prices. So make sure you do your research before shelling out.
You can identify the first edition by looking for the copyright date, or the words “first edition.” But beware that paperback and hardback editions will likely have different “first edition” dates.
Rare books are also low in supply, which increases their demand. But again, you would need to ensure these are in mint condition to make the profit forecasted; as mistakes in this market could be costly.
Find rare books by searching on sites like Biblio.com, or scanning barcodes with a book app (there are loads on the app store!).
Where to sell first editions & rare books?
- Open Online Store
- Local used bookstores
What Types of Books Are Best to Flip?
- Educational books, such as textbooks: demand for these are pretty much constant unless paper copies are replaced by online copies.
- Religious books: people pay a lot of money for, let’s say, vintage copies of the Bible, etc.
- Arts and crafts books: seem to sell well especially now as more people are bored at home and looking to craft.
- Most non-fiction books: such as biographies, step-by-step learning books, travel guides, and history books.
Where to Find Books for Flipping?
So at this point, you know more about the process and where to sell books, still interested? Great, now you need to find books at good deals so there is profit to be made.
Going to a book store and buying books in bulk to flip is not going to work here. You’ll need to put in some effort going through places where books are cheap and the resell value is higher.
- Thrift Stores – You’ll find all sorts of things here, books included. You won’t always find books worth flipping, but there can be some hidden gems. Do a thorough search, there should be plenty of thrift stores near you.
- Garage Sales – Spend the weekend mornings going to a few garage sales in your neighborhood. Most people are just looking to get rid of stuff and may not realize some books could fetch more than the dollar they might be asking. You never know what you’ll find at garage sales.
- Antique stores – Similar to thrift stores, you may find some good deals on books at antique stores too. Although antique stores are not always selling things super cheap, you can still find some good deals.
- Craigslist – You might find some opportunities to pick-up books for free or cheap through Craigslist. You can also try other sites like Craigslist too.
- Amazon – You probably won’t find a good deal on Amazon for flipping books, but you can use it as a research tool. You might find a deal or two, but it should not be your first go-to source.
Lastly, you can always just ask friends, family, neighbors if they have books they don’t want. They may just hand them over to you for free or ask for a few bucks. Probably won’t have major book winners, but it is worth a shot!
Where to Check Book Selling Prices Before Buying?
You should always check the selling price of a book before you make the purchase. This way, you can calculate how much profit there is to be made; and avoid taking unnecessary risks on books that are unlikely to sell.
Here are a few places to check book prices:
- ScoutIQ: Specifically helps you find books for flipping on Amazon and integrates with the listing technology on the site to make it more efficient.
- BookScout: This allows you to set up alerts to get in before anyone else, and find out about new books that meet your specific search requirements.
- TexTrader: This option can help you scan barcodes on your screen to buy low & sell high. It works as a browser extension. While you’re buying books for flipping online, the extension helps you determine if a book can be profitable.
- eBay: For manual searching, eBay is a wide-scale site with one of the largest book selections on the internet. It’s especially great for secondhand books and to see average prices for your books.
What Should I Be Careful About With Flipping Books?
Like any side hustle where you are flipping stuff, there are things you need to monitor with books too. If you aren’t careful, you may end up start losing money.
Here are a few things to be paying attention to while you consider flipping books for profit.
1. Check the condition of the book
As previously mentioned; books that are not in mint condition will see a huge detriment to the potential sell price. This especially applies to rare and vintage books, such as First Editions.
2. Research the current selling price
Some books just aren’t worth much. There are a number of barcode scanning tools that will easily identify what the average sell price or cheapest sell price is on sites like Amazon. Use these tools to avoid being caught out and overpaying.
3. Ensure there are no cheap & available electronic copies
This is where many secondhand booksellers get caught out: prices and demand significantly decrease when online copies and ebooks are readily available. And this is especially true for textbooks.
4. Watch shipping costs
Heavy books will cost a lot to ship. These books can sometimes weigh up to around 20 lbs or more, and will often require extra secure packaging to protect in transit. Are you charging shipping separately, or including it within the selling price?
Flipping books for a profit can be a great way to make money. You can do this somewhat passively a make a few hundred bucks or you can put in more work and potentially make a full-time income!
Remember to do proper research, find books at a low cost in order to mark-up properly, and monitor any shipping costs.
Plus, make sure to be transparent about the book condition. The last thing you want is people returning your book because you weren’t upfront of any damage or condition.
Good luck on your book flipping endeavors!