Selling books for fun and profit …


I don’t consider myself an “expert” by any means on bookselling. I have made an ENORMOUS amount of mistakes doing it but can now say I am having more successes than failures.

Anyway….here is the knowledge I have acquired in the last ten years.

Can you make a living  selling books?

Perhaps. If you have enough time and energy to invest into it, you could PERHAPS live decently.  BUT…that being said…. the people who live solely off of  “book sales” are few and far between. I don’t want anyone running to their boss tomorrow and yelling “I QUIT! Someday you’ll work for ME Mr. Bossman!”

I personally don’t make a “living” doing it. I do, however, make a nice supplemental income. By supplemental, I mean, I can pull in about $1,500.00 + (after expenses) in a good month…and about $750.00 (after expenses) in the slower months (usually summer). I also do this more “part-time” in terms of the hours I put into it.  If I invested more hours…I perhaps could make more money.

From what I have seen, the few people that can comfortably support themselves usually deal in the high end, very rare books. They are very good at what they do,  know a tremendous amount about these books, and know the people who are actually interested in buying those books…or the auction houses that will auction them.

Where can you sell books?

Online: Ebay, Amazon, your own website, other bookselling websites.

Scouting: Basically,you have clients that you find books for (i.e. history buffs, museums, book collectors, sporting fans, etc.) You find…they pay.

Bookstore: Own a bookstore and sell ’em.

Auction houses: This really is for higher end, rare books. But if you have them, they can find the right market for you.

Those are just a few examples. I sell books online on Ebay. I’m not saying thats the best site for bookselling..but it has worked nicely for me to this point.

Do you have to have a lot of money to start bookselling?

Honestly…not really.

The most expense comes from the shipping supplies/internet/gas/etc. The actual buying of the books is pretty reasonable.Once you figure out how you are going to sell your books (internet, scouting, bookstore,etc.)…you can begin figuring out your expenses in which to acquire,store, and then sell the books.

I often take less that $50.00 with me when I go out book hunting. It helps me be more selective.

I also stick to a few genres I know…I’ve learned I can end up with some real duds when I travel outside my expertise.

So bottom line….you don’t need a lot of money to BUY books.

What books really sell well?


It’s important to do your homework before you buy books or you are going to end up with a lot of “doorstops” sitting around your house. A good place to see what is selling is Ebay, in my opinion. It, at least, shows what the market wants and what they are willing to pay.

I would encourage anyone who is interested  to find a genre that either they know already or would like to know. It keeps it interesting and it can make you more of an expert in no time at all. So if you like sports….look for sports books. Like woodworking? Go for those. Always loved science fiction? That’s where you should at least start.

Also…be on the look out for books that look like “nothing”. Read this article if you really want to catch the “book bug”.

Where can I find books?

Tons of places! Garage sales, estate sales, flea markets, thrift stores, auctions, antique stores/malls, library sales, book sales, online…just to name a few. There seems to be a  neverending supply of books…seriously.

There’s a great website: that shows book sales in your state. I use it all the time.  If it says BIG SALE…that’s a good one!

Let friends/relatives know that you are bookselling….a lot of times they may be waiting to get rid of load of books they don’t want anymore.  Also, I find a lot of great opportunities through word of mouth.

How do you know what a book is worth?

Ebay, and can give you an idea of what the book may be going for. is good for really rare books. Simply type in the name and see what the prices being asked are for that book.

Some people have little computers that can scan ISBN numbers that work with software that can give a price range. I personally don’t use one of those. I have all I need up in my noggin.

Bottom line, selling books can bring in some extra cash. It has proven to me to be almost recession proof and “Kindle” proof as well. People love books. People love information. People love buying both.

Good luck and happy hunting!

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comment section!

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