I Can Make $750 a Month Buying and Selling Books?!

After starting my own business for Uber didn’t quite work out, I came across this idea on another blog, The Penny Hoarder, titled “How to Make $750 a Month Selling Used Books.”

It seemed like a pretty easy idea so I spent a morning on eBay looking for used college books. I had 2 tabs open; 1 was eBay, the other was Bookscouter* which that post suggested.

I didn’t know where to begin my search so I searched for “college textbooks” on eBay and close to 80,000 listings showed up. Man, I’m gonna be here a while!

The process for me was straight forward: click into an eBay listing, copy the ISBN number, and paste it into Bookscouter. I soon realized that older books were getting horrible values through Bookscouter. (No, I don’t want to sell a book for $0!) If you want to lose lots of money real quick, buy a bunch of old college textbooks!

So I refined my search to “college textbooks 2014” and “college textbooks 2015” and have had better success.

The less than $5 profit that The Penny Hoarder article talks about sucks so I go for books that have a higher margin than that.

Here’s how the process works:

  • Open 2 tabs: 1 being eBay and the other Bookscouter*.
  • Use search criteria such as “college textbooks 2014” and “college textbooks 2015” under the “Books” category.
  • Click a listing on eBay, copy the ISBN number, and paste into Bookscouter.
  • There are as many as 3 options to buy a book on eBay, depending on how the seller would like to conduct business. If it has a “buy it now” price, you can buy the book right then and there for that price. If it has a “best offer” option, you can offer the seller a price that they’ll hopefully accept and you can make a profit on. If its just a straight auction, you’ll have to bid on the book and only once the auction is over can you buy the book.
  • Pay for it on eBay and lock in a price quote on Bookscouter*.
  • You’ll be forwarded to the specific buyer’s website and you’ll deal with them from there.
  • Print out the free shipping label they provide.
  • Ship out your book.
  • Wait for them to receive it and get paid!

Some things to consider:

  • You’ll go through hours of listings the first day so you can get a lay of the land and see what all is available. After your initial day of searching, there’s an option on eBay where you can filter “newest listings.” This way you only search through new listings and not the ones you’ve already looked at. The time spent looking at books a day will be under an hour once you get good at this.
  • Price quotes can change. I’ve seen that they can change daily. Sometimes they increase but usually, they decrease. Keep this in mind!
  • Avoid “Instructor’s Edition” books and “International Edition” books. Buyers don’t want these and you’ll have a book that you can’t sell to them!
  • Be careful reading descriptions and what conditions the books on eBay are actually in.
  • It’ll take time for the book to arrive to you from the seller on eBay. It’ll take time to get from you to the buyer who ends up buying your book. It’ll take time to receive your payment. Cash flow is slow and inconsistent. It all depends on where the buyer is located. It was a lot quicker to ship the book to a buyer in Kentucky than a buyer in Oregon.
  • Auctions usually take a week to end so this is time that you have to wait before you can turn a profit. Not a good way to make money if you need it fast!
  • You probably won’t be able to consistently buy 5 “profitable” books a day. This can be a nice supplement to your income.
  • If you get paid through PayPal there can be fees associated with this.
  • Different buyers require different shipping methods. One I used through UPS and the other was through FedEx.
  • You’ll have to pay for shipping material to pack your books in and you’ll have to deduct this from your “profit.”

Here’s how much “profit” I made: I spent $138 to purchase 2 books and sold them for $171.38. I spent $20 on bubble mailers so my profit is $13.38. Now that I have a shipping supply, I won’t have to spend money on this for a while. I shipped off both books on June 1st. I have a check on its way from one buyer and the other book just reached its destination earlier today, June 8th. (as of initial writing)

Have you tried doing this before? Feel free to ask any questions!

Note that there will be an update to this post coming soon.

* This is an affiliate link so I make some spare change if you click the link. Thanks for the support!