It’s a bit of a horrifying experience the first time you walk into a college bookstore. I remember the first time saying to myself, “You want a $145 for that?” To say I felt ripped off is an understatement, which is why this side hustle I’m about to share is all the more exciting.
I’ve written previously about how I sell used books online for extra money (“How to Become a Used Book Hunter“), but that involves going to garage sales every weekend and sweating the summer heat. Today I’m going to show you how to buy textbooks online at sites like Ebay, and then how to resell them online for a profit at places like BookScouter.com. Consider it my sweet revenge against the bookstores that overcharged me as a college student. 🙂
[Editor’s note: Watch out for illegal or counterfeit copies of books; here’s how to spot them.]
Here’s how to do it…
There’s a handy little tool I use to make this work at BookScouter.com. Their site will let you plug in a book’s ISBN number (right next to the UPC) and then it will tell you how much the book is worth and which buyback company will give you the most money. I use this tool before buying a book to make sure that there is a company willing to pay more for the book than what the Ebay seller is charging.
Let me give you a couple of examples I found this week…
Here is a screenshot of an auction that just closed for the book “Fundamentals of Physical Geography.” It was sold for $52.50 (plus $3.99 for shipping) giving the buyer a total cost of $56.49. Using the tool at BookScouter, I see that Moola4Books.com is paying $61.25 for the same book and they will cover the cost of shipping if I send it to them, giving me a profit margin of $4.76.
Also on Rent Scouter, it shows that Amazon’s buyback program would be willing to give me a $71.77 Amazon gift card for this book. Amazon’s program also comes with free shipping so I would profit a $15.28 gift card. Not too bad!
Here’s another one:
After shipping charges, this book cost the buyer $37.11. BookScouter shows that it could be traded in for a $41.26 Amazon gift card, giving me a profit of $4.15.
As you can see the profit margins aren’t huge on a single book, because there are several other Ebayers playing this trade-in game. However, if you can average a $5 profit margin on each book, you only need to buy 5 books everyday to pocket an extra $750 dollars each month! Considering there are over a million textbook auctions on Ebay right now, it shouldn’t be too hard to find 5 books a day to resell.
If you do decide to sell textbooks for cash, there are a couple of things you need to remember:
- Be sure to check the condition of the book before buying it. Most buyback companies expect a little wear and tear, but if there are ripped pages or severe damage to the cover, they probably won’t accept your book.
- Pack your books carefully. Most buyback companies will give you a prepaid shipping label, but you are responsible for your own packaging. If the books are damaged during transit, you’ll have to eat the loss.
- Be careful of payment fees. If you are offered the choice of a Paypal payment or a check payment, keep in mind that if you choose Paypal, you will need to deduct those fees from your profit margin.