A Helpful Guide on How to Sell Used Books Online and In Person

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There’s something about a full bookshelf that screams, “I’m educated, and I’m not afraid to show it!” But let’s face it — a lot of your books are just collecting dust.

But did you know you can sell used books online and in person? Whether you’ve got a pile of novels you read once and have no intention of reading again or a stack you’ve never read in the first place, it’s time to look at how you can make money by selling your books.

Where to Sell Used Books

We’ve found several platforms for selling books online and provided the scoop on each, including how much it will cost to make money with them and a few tips on how to get started. And we’ve rounded up another handful of ideas for selling used books in person, as well as places that take book donations.

They are:

Where to Sell Used Books Online

We know it’s not easy to part with books. If you have trouble doing this, enlist a trusted friend or relative to help you go through the shelves. Be merciless and realistic. Once you’ve got your stacks of books and are ready to start selling, consider these online options:

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The obvious choice for many is Amazon, but using this platform is also more complicated than the other options on the list.

How to Sell Books on Amazon

Open an Amazon seller account by entering your usual Amazon login (if you don’t have an Amazon account, you’ll need to create one here). Once you’re logged in, you’ll need to choose which countries you want to sell in. Then, you’ll need to provide personal information about your country of citizenship, country of birth and a form of ID, such as a passport or driver’s license number, as well as information about your bank account (for Amazon to pay you for your sales) and your credit card (for Amazon to deduct the selling fees). Amazon requires you to meet with an Amazon Associate to verify your info — that’s how the site helps ensure the legitimacy of all its sellers.

Next, you’ll select one of Amazon’s two fulfillment methods:

  • Merchant Fulfilled Network (MFN): You pack and ship every book that someone orders from you. Depending on the seller plan you choose (more on that later), you’ll either need to include shipping costs in the item price or set custom shipping costs separately.
  • Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA): You ship all your books to Amazon, and Amazon handles the packaging and shipping on orders. Choosing this option allows you to offer free two-day Amazon Prime shipping to your customers, which can help your listings stand out.

MFN requires more work on your part, but you’ll also have the freedom to choose your own shipping service, which could save you money.

Once you’ve set up your account and listed the books you want to sell, customers can find them using Amazon’s search bar.

How Much It Costs to Sell Books on Amazon

An Amazon seller account offers two plans:

  • The Individual Plan: This costs 99 cents per unit sold and is best for people who sell fewer than 40 books a month.
  • The Professional Plan This costs $39.99 per month and is best for people selling more than 40 books a month who also want to advertise. The fee will be charged every month you have active listings on Amazon.

For every item sold, Amazon sellers pay the company a referral fee, which is a percentage of the total price. For books, the referral fee is 15%. You’ll pay that in addition to the selling plan fees.

If you choose Amazon FBA for your fulfillment method, you’ll be charged a monthly fee for storing goods at an Amazon Fulfillment Center. The fee depends on how much inventory you’re sending them and the time of the year. More information here.

In addition, you may end up with refund fees, high-volume listing fees or a rental book service fee. A full breakdown of the other costs can be found here.

What You Need to Know Before You Start

  • Follow listing guidelines. Be as specific as possible about the condition of your item so customers know what they’re buying.
  • Be honest. If you list a book incorrectly on your seller account (for example, by saying it is in like-new condition when it shows signs of wear), you’re more likely to get negative feedback, which can lead to your removal from the platform.
  • Figure out your prices. Many sellers recommend adding up all of your costs and comparing that total to the book’s original value.

Who Should Sell Used Books on Amazon?

If you have a lot of new or gently used novels, children’s books or nonfiction books to sell, Amazon may work for you. However, if you only have a handful to unload, you may want to look elsewhere, as Amazon can end up costing you more in fees than you’d make from sales.

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Sellers who use AbeBooks are responsible for setting up their listings, storing their inventory and shipping their items.

How to Sell Books on AbeBooks

First, you’ll need to decide if you want to pay for a professional account or just sell a few items through the website’s Book Buyback section.

To do the latter, you then have to choose between Ziffit or TextbookRush as your partner. Unless you want to sell textbooks, your best bet is Ziffit.

You can search Ziffit’s database through its website or using its free app. You’ll either type in the book’s 13-digit ISBN or scan the barcode with your smartphone.

Once you find the book in the database, the service will display an offer.

How Much It Costs to Sell Books on AbeBooks

If you want a professional AbeBooks account, you’ll have to apply for it then pay $25 or more a month.

The free option is to sell your books through TextbookRush or Ziffit. Neither TextbookRush or Ziffit require you to pay for your shipping label — every book buyback gets a free trackable FedEx mailing label — but you’ll have to provide your own box.

What You Need to Know Before You Start

  • Keep your shipping label receipt. This is proof of shipping so you can use the free drop-off service at your nearest FedEx.
  • Sell frequently. Those who choose Ziffit get paid weekly either via PayPal or direct deposit, so selling more will get you a higher weekly payment.
  • Use the app. If you want to quickly scan barcodes rather than type in the entire ISBN, the Ziffit app is available on Google Play or the Apple App Store.

Who Should Sell Used Books on AbeBooks?

AbeBooks itself is known for selling rare or collectible books, so if you have any of those in your collection it’s worth considering this service. TextbookRush is ideal for selling textbooks (shocker!), while Ziffit is a good option for books that don’t fall into either of the aforementioned categories. Because Ziffit and TextbookRush are free to use, listing your books or opting for textbook buyback here is a good money-saving option if you don’t want to pay fees to sell books.

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You already use it to shop for cute, handmade goods, but you probably didn’t know there’s a whole community of people selling books on Etsy.

How to Sell Used Books on Etsy

Use your Facebook, Google or Apple login to create an account, or set one up using your email address.

Set up your shop by choosing a name, the currency you’ll accept and what items you want to list (including photos and descriptions).

You can choose to offer free shipping or have buyers pay for it. If you pick the latter, you can choose a rate or have Etsy calculate it for you.

The Seller Handbook has hundreds of informational articles to help anyone who is starting out.

How Much It Costs to Sell Books on Etsy

There are a few costs associated with selling items on Etsy.

  • Listing fees: You’ll be charged 20 cents for each item you list for sale.
  • Transaction fees: When you make a sale, you’ll pay 6% of the price you display for each listing.
  • Advertising and promotional fees: You can purchase paid advertising on Etsy. Learn more about those fees here.
  • Shipping fees: Etsy lets sellers in certain areas buy shipping labels to fulfill their orders. If you are outside these areas, you’ll have to pay for your own shipping label.
  • Etsy Plus: Sellers who are in good standing can sign up for Etsy Plus for $10 per month. Etsy Plus provides a variety of tools to help sellers grow their brands, as well as offers customization options and discounts on items like shipping materials and business cards.

What You Need to Know Before You Start

If you opt for free shipping, you’ll take the brunt of that cost yourself. But if you make buyers pay for shipping, they may choose a different vendor that offers it for free. It’s important to weigh both options to see which makes the most sense for your situation.

Who Should Sell Used Books on Etsy?

As with Amazon, using Etsy to sell secondhand requires more of a time investment, so it’s a good option for people who have a room full of titles rather than a shelf’s worth to list.

It’s also worth considering Etsy if you’re offering rare titles that also are in great condition.

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Decluttr uses both an app and a website to sell books and other used goods.

How to Sell Books on Decluttr

Either download the app or go to Decluttr’s website and click the “Sell Books” tab.

Next, enter your book’s ISBN and click “Add” to get an instant price the website will offer you for your item. To complete your order, your basket must contain at least $5 worth of items and include at least 10 media items or one tech item.

After you’ve met the criteria, you’ll pick one of three options to get paid: direct deposit, PayPal or donate to charity.

You can earn even more on Decluttr as a Penny Hoarder: Use the code TPH10 to get an extra 10% cash on all your media sales.

Finally, print your free UPS shipping label, pack the items in a box, label it and drop it off at a UPS Store, Customer Center or Authorized Retail Outlet.

How Much It Costs to Sell Books on Decluttr

Decluttr is one of the cheapest platforms on this list because it’s nearly free to use, including shipping. You just need to supply the box.

What You Need to Know Before You Start

With Decluttr, you can only make money if you have a lot of books to sell, so consider another platform if you only have a few to purge.

Who Should Sell Used Books on Decluttr?

Use Decluttr to do what the name suggests — declutter your house — but don’t expect to make much more than a few bucks.

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Unlike the other sites listed in this article, BookScouter will scout several book-buying websites and let you know how much each is willing to pay for your titles.

How to Sell Books on BookScouter

Simply go to the website and enter the ISBN of each book you’re selling, then click “Scout.” The website will then show you a list of buyers along with the price they are offering for that specific title.

Once you’ve reviewed the offers, you can click “Sell” next to your chosen buyer and you’ll be directed to that buyer’s website to complete the process.

How Much It Costs to Sell Books on BookScouter

You can search BookScouter offers for free, but, depending on the offer you choose there may be some associated fees.

What You Need to Know Before You Start

BookScouter only shows you offers for your books from third parties. Before completing a sale, make sure you check the seller out to confirm they are legitimate.

Who Should Sell Books on BookScouter?

BookScouter is a good option if you have a small collection of books to sell. If your collection is larger, it might be better to go with a bigger platform like Amazon or Etsy.

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Where to Sell Used Books in Person

If selling online isn’t an option, you can find places to sell your books locally. Here are some common places you may be able to make some money on your pre-loved books (or, failing that, where you can donate your books to give them a second chance at life).

Used Book Stores

Depending on where you live, you may have several choices of used bookstores. Places like Half Price Books (or some Books-A-Million stores) will value your books and make an offer based on how much they think they can get for them.

You could make a bunch of money or just a few bucks. And you can usually opt for store credit rather than cash if you prefer.

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Garage Sales

A garage sale is a good place to try and sell books you couldn’t sell online or at a secondhand bookstore. You probably won’t make a ton of money; most shoppers at yard sale and estate sales want a quick bargain.

Depending on where you live, you may be able to join a citywide garage sale to catch as many potential buyers as possible.
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Secondhand or Indie Bookstores

If you don’t have a Half Price Books physical location in your area, you can ask around at your local secondhand or indie bookstores to see whether they have any book-buying programs. If nothing else, they might have some good advice on where to sell your used books that you hadn’t thought of before.

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Places to Donate

If you didn’t get any bites online, at a secondhand store or at a garage sale, you can donate your books at the following places. Yes, even books that aren’t worth selling given their condition.


Libraries are always looking for book donations. They will either add the books to their collection or sell them at a Friends of the Library sale to raise money for the library.

Your neighborhood also may have a Little Free Library system where you can drop off your books. These typically have both books for children and adults that you can take or leave as you please.

Children’s Hospitals

If you have used children’s books you want to get rid of, consider your local children’s hospital. Reading is a great way for kids to spend time when they are hospitalized.

Local Charities

You can donate your pre-owned books to a charity like Goodwill or churches that have thrift shops. Many local charities have thrift stores that partially fund their programs through sales. Books in good shape are welcome.

Prison Libraries

The Books to Prisoners website allows you to donate books to local correctional facilities to help prisoners learn and pass time while incarcerated.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Selling Used Books

Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about selling used books.

What is the Best Way to Sell Used Books?

If you want to get into the secondhand bookselling business, you’ll probably make more money with an online platform like Amazon or Etsy. But if you only have a few books to sell, a secondhand bookstore or an online platform like Decluttr might be a better option. If you want to sell old textbooks, the best option may be TextbookRush through AbeBooks.

Where Can I Sell My Books for the Most Money?

If you have a large collection of good-quality books and want to try being a professional seller, you can make a decent amount of money using a platform like AbeBooks or Amazon. But if you’re just trying to sell a few dog-eared paperbacks, you’ll need to reset your earning expectations. You can take them to a secondhand bookstore to see how much they will pay, but it’s unlikely you’ll make any serious money.

How Much Does Books-A-Million Pay for Used Books?

Some Books-A-Million locations buy pre-owned books through the BAM! Used Buyback program. Books-A-Million pays out based on book condition and demand, so your offer will vary based on these factors. If your books are obscure and don’t have much of a market, they may return them to you with no offer. 

Contributor Catherine Hiles is a British writer and editor living and working in the U.S. She writes about finance, cars, pet ownership and parenting. Niki Kottmann is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.