6 Ways to Make Money Off Your Book Obsession (Only One Involves Writing!)

6 Ways to Make Money Off Your Book Obsession (Only One Involves Writing!)

I’ve always loved books -- even before I knew how to read them.

I’d thumb through the Scholastic Book Club flyers and circle my most desired choices: “Britney Spears: The Story of Britney Spears” and the latest “Magic Treehouse” book. I’d buy big reference books from Sam’s Club because they were pretty, and I liked the weight of the pages.

As you can image, this obsession got worse as I got older. I made pricy trips to Barnes and Noble. I swore I’d read my stockpiled books. I made long reading lists.

I suppose this obsession has translated in “real life,” since I majored in English and became a writer.

But this isn’t the only way I could have made -- and can still make -- money off my obsession with books and words.

6 Ways to Monetize Your Obsession With Books

If you’re drowning in books and words, that totally makes my heart happy.

But it can also make your bank account pretty darn happy, too.

1. Sell Your Used Books

monels/Getty Images
monels/Getty Images

I have a closet full of stuff I just can’t part with, including a ton of books -- many I’ve read. Others I haven’t, like the copy of “Dear John” my high school boyfriend gave me. This also includes textbooks -- from both high school and college -- that I’ll never open again.

If you can relate, why not sell the things? Sites like Amazon, letgo and Decluttr -- among others -- make it super simple. (Enter PENNY10 at checkout to get an extra 10% for your trade-ins!) 

Our founder, Kyle Taylor, wrote about how he made $750 selling his used books online. He used this nifty tool called BookScouter, which allows you to search what other sites are selling textbooks for.

Go ahead and let the internet know you’re a packrat book-lover and start watching those crusty pages fly off the self.

2. Hunt for Other People’s Used Books

encrier/Getty Images
encrier/Getty Images

This sounds weird, right? But Kyle’s also written about becoming a “used book hunter.”

Basically, he says the first step is to clean out the books in your house. (See above.) Then go back to BookScouter and type in each book’s ISBN to see what it’s selling for.

Once you get the hang of it, hit up garage sales, used book stores, flea markets -- you name it. Find books on the cheap. Use your phone to look up what these books go for online. If the resale value is good, buy it!

My editor’s mom has actually done this. She stumbled upon two first-edition science fiction books at a thrift store -- $5 a piece. Turns out, “Fantastic Voyage” by Isaac Asimov goes for $295, and “2001: Space Odyssey” by Arthur C. Clarke goes for $260.

Finding these gems has to be thrilling.

3. Become a Reading Tutor

SamuelBrownNG/Getty Images
SamuelBrownNG/Getty Images

Like me, Joanne Kaminski struggled to learn how to read. That’s what inspired her to begin her online tutoring business.

She fired up the company in 2010 and slowly built her network. Now, she charges $75 an hour and rakes in $5,000-$6,000 a month.

And she does this all from the comfort of her home. She has two daughters, so she works around their schedules and sets her own hours.

The biggest perk? She shares her passion for reading (which started with “Anne of Green Gables”) to kids who are struggling. It’s a win-win.

4. Listen to Books


I know. This is another head-scratcher from our ever-so creative founder, but hold up.

If you haven’t heard of SwagBucks, go ahead and check out our beginner’s guide. It’s this super-awesome site that hosts a variety of rewards for online shopping, searching, watching videos and -- in this case -- listening to books.

Once you create an account (or log into your account), use the search tool to find “Audible” -- the home of online audiobooks.

With this current offer, SwagBucks will reward you 800 SB (translated to $8) for downloading Audible, which costs $1 a month. If you keep your membership for more than two months, you can earn 1,700 SB (translated to $17).

You can redeem this for money or giftcards, and you get to listen to your favorite books on your commute.

5. Self-publish an Ebook


I’m not brave enough to do this yet, but it’s certainly on my bucket list: Write a book.

Each time I read a memoir, I think about how neat (and terrifying) it would be to share some of my most vivid, learning life moments.

However, one of our contributors, Steve Gillman, took the leap. He wrote a book about ultralight backpacking. It only took him a few days (holy cow), and he had it published on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform.

Over time, Gillman’s banked about $2,000 from the ebook in a very passive manner with no promotion. He outlined how to get started with self-publishing for Kindle.

6. Become a Proofreader


Here’s yet another inspiring personal story. I love these things.

Earlier this year, we wrote about Caitlin Pyle, the “proofreading powerhouse” behind Proofread Anywhere, a blog she started in 2014. Pyle’s been proofreading transcripts for years, and she wanted other people to get in on the action.

Her blog offers a seven-day introductory course to get you started. She estimates you can make about 35 cents per proofread page. If you can get through about 50 pages an hour, you can bank $17.50/hour.

Check out all the deets on Pyle’s site.

Bonus: Reading list dried up? Dive into our favorite personal finance books.

Your Turn: What’s your favorite book?

Disclosure: Here’s a toast to the affiliate links in this post. May we all be just a little richer today.

Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. After recently completing graduate school, she focuses on saving money — and surviving the move back in with her parents.