Can I Still Make Money Selling Used Books Online?

By Joe Waynick
August 1, 2013

A reader recently asked me if he could still make money selling used books because he was concerned about whether the business model was still profitable.

He had recently purchased my book, Internet Bookselling Made Easy! and he was trying to implement the fast-track program, but he was becoming discouraged because he wasn't immediately finding valuable books.

I always caution beginners that while I've done everything possible to explain how easy it can be to sell used books on the Internet, it's not a get rich quick scheme.

There's work involved and money isn't going to just fall from the sky. Yes, starting with your own personal library is a good idea. But don't expect miracles, you may or may not have valuable books sitting on your bookshelf. It worked out well for me and it works out well for many others, but everyone's circumstances are different.

If you're fortunate you'll find a diamond or two buried amongst your literary discards and you'll make money selling used books. If not, don't sweat it. Just go out into the field and find some as you learn how to sell used books. Now let me share with you the advice that I gave my reader…

Message from a Reader

Hey Joe,

I've got your book "Internet Bookselling Made Easy" here and am trying to do the first step. I've gone through 50 books that are relatively recent (post 1972) and are non-fiction (lots of self help and business books) and so far they can all be found for sale for a penny at addall.com. Has the game changed since 2011 when you wrote the book or am I just unlucky?

I know things on the internet change pretty quickly and I'm just concerned the system won't work anymore. I'm in a very similar situation to the one you described at the beginning of your book when you started your business. Not much to invest but a decent sized personal library.

Thanks for your help and for writing this book.

Sincerely,

David

My Response

Hello David;

Thanks for writing.

Don't get discouraged because the model still works. It's only been two years since I wrote the book and believe me the industry doesn't change that radically, that fast, so you can still make money selling used books.

You didn't tell me the total number of books that are in your personal library. But you're going to find that the majority of them sell for a penny on Amazon. What you're looking for are the diamonds, and those are always rare, otherwise they wouldn't be diamonds!

Generally, from a random sampling of books you can expect to find about five percent of them will have enough value to make them suitable for online bookselling. That's just a guideline and not a guarantee. Also, when you're researching your personal library use Amazon to do your searching.

That way you can also look at the sales rank and not just the lowest price. Frequently, even though the lowest price is a penny, if you scan further down Amazon's catalog page you'll find that the third or fourth next highest price can be $5, $8, or as much as $20. It all depends on the book.

As long as your listing is on the first page of the Amazon catalog you don't have to be the lowest price on the page. As a matter of routine, I always list my books somewhere in the middle of the page.

In other words, there are usually 10 listings on the page; so I price my books to be competitive with the fifth or sixth highest priced listing and ignore the lower-priced books. Although this slows down my sales somewhat, it also maximizes my profit and I still make money selling used books.

In short, I've made a conscious decision to accept slower sales in exchange for higher margins.

For more information you might want to consider joining my free Internet booksellers forum and pose your questions there and you'll get very knowledgeable responses from a number of experienced booksellers as well as from myself. Just click this Forum Guidelines link and follow the instructions to sign up for your FREE membership.

Good hunting.

Joe Waynick
Bookseller, Author, Mentor

Don't Get Discouraged!

Internet bookselling is a business that grows in slow but steady steps. Remember, you're only one person and the growth of your business is dependent upon your individual efforts.

To make money selling used books you can either increase or decrease your efforts. And the amount of energy you put into your business will directly affect your profits.

So don't get discouraged!

Develop relationships with every source of inventory mentioned in my book and get a competitive advantage over other scouters. Redouble your efforts and buy as many books as you can afford.

Then list them online as soon as possible—preferably the very same day, and start your cash flow machine rolling and watch the dollars grow!

* * * * *

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