What I've Been Doing with Our Extra Books: Selling Them on Amazon

One of the first things I remember admiring about my husband, back when we first met, was his love for reading. I remember listening to him share what he had learned in this book or read about here and it felt, only two days after our first date, like a kindred spirit already.

When we got married, this love for reading became evident in our collection of books that easily filled our bookshelves—taller than we were—and spilled their way into the other shelves throughout our apartment. But it really hit home when we were making our grand Grand Rapids-to-Atlanta move and had to haul all those books that 800-mile stretch of highway and up two flights of stairs.

With my muscles pleading for mercy, I knew we needed to whittle those suckers down. Not only did we have duplicates of some of the same books (see, I told you we were kindred spirits!), but we had collected many books that we would honestly never read or reference again.

So, I decided to look into selling them online, something a few other bloggers I follow seem to have had luck with. I was a little weary of this at first; I've only ever bought a couple things off eBay to begin with. But I figured it was worth a try, so I crossed my fingers and threw some books up for sale on Amazon, using their "used" section.

Within days, books started to sell; five in the first week, two more the week after. In the first month, we made about $75 profit selling books, dvds and cds. (Want to see what is currently up for grabs from our Amazon shop? Check them out here.)

Especially exciting was one book I'd picked up a few years ago at a dollar store with intentions of giving away as a gag gift. It was this retro-looking book called "How to Be a Man" with tongue-in-cheek advice about being macho and masculine. Anyway, when I looked it up, other sellers were hawking it for upwards of $60! Since I'd only paid $1 for it, I put it up for $24, unsure if anyone would even pay that much for it. What do you know, but someone did snatch it up, stretching that dollar investment much further than I'd ever expected!

I've been selling our extra books on Amazon for more than a year now and have used it as a nice little way to add some cash to our savings accounts, although sometimes it's only $5 or $10 a month, depending on how many books we manage to sell. You can read more about how to sell your books and other media through Amazon here.

If you're interested in trying to sell books on Amazon, here are some tips:

Know that they do take a commission off the sale. I've found it's usually between $3 and $6 off every book. So even though you put in a sale price of $5.99, after they take their commission and you pay to ship the book (I also make sure to include delivery confirmation on every package), you're only left with about $3.50. To me, if it's a book I didn't want or need anyway, that's still a better price than I would get if I took the book to a resale shop or tried to sell it at a garage sale.

You aren’t going to be able to sell every book. This is especially true with bestsellers or classics because tons of people are already selling them for pennies, which you can’t compete with at all or you'll lose money.

You have to package and ship the books yourself. That can be a bit of a hassle, and you'll have to provide your own shipping supplies.

An alternative way to make some extra money. If you don't need the money immediately and are willing to wait for your books to sell, it can be a potentially profitable way to get rid of media that’s just eating up space on your shelves and make more money than you would taking your stuff to any resale shop.

(Get more details about how to sell your books and other media with Amazon here.)

Have you ever sold anything on eBay, Amazon or Etsy to make some extra cash? What's been your experience? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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  1. I need to get back into it, but I used to enjoy selling stuff from Salvation Army/Garage Sales/etc. I once bought an old sewing machine for $10, and sold it to a woman for $100. She drove 2 states away to pick it up, so I'm guessing it was worth even more. :)

  2. Awesome idea. I never really thought about who all those used book sellers were who I'd been buying from!

  3. Absolutely! We sold a lot of textbooks as well on Half.com this way and raked in over $500. What a great feeling. I didn't even think about selling our CD's and DVD's though. We gave most of them away to the public library or Goodwill.

  4. Wow, some of you have had some great successes reselling stuff! It's true that one person's trash can be someone else's treasure!

    Abigail, yep, sometimes they're just regular folks like us! :)

  5. I've been meaning to do this for a while, and this was the final push. I just listed my first item on eBay (a brand new, new used Windows phone for about half price, if you're in the market: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=280817171401#ht_500wt_1156 I've got small apartment; read, not a lot of room for extra stuff. And a little extra income never hurts! Thanks for the motivation, all! Hopefully, it will be a positive experience. ;)

  6. My cheese grater's never been so clean.

  7. Whoops, the above comment was supposed to be posted on your homemade liquid soap post! I'm not grating my books.




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