The used book market continues to be a highly profitable sector, even with the emergence of digital and audio books. This is because some people still need physical copies of a book for school or work purposes, or simply because they like the idea of holding and turning the pages of a real book. For all of these reasons and more, print books remain in high demand, making it still very possible to flip books on the internet for huge profits.
In this market, used book sellers are at an advantage. There are so many places to get used or free books both online and offline, that can then be listed and sold online for huge profits. However, to be the most successful at used book sales, you have to know where to look to get the best deals that can give you the best return.
While you probably already know some of the more popular sources to buy used books, such as Amazon, eBay and other online sources, there are some other less mainstream, unconventional ways you can gather books to resell for a profit online:
Check out your local libraries:
While libraries are primarily known as a place where you borrow many types of books at no cost, many libraries offer book sales on occasion, as they attempt to get rid of some of the older books to make room for newer ones. Library sales can be one of the best places to get great deals for buying used books. At these sales, you are more likely to find hardcover books, such as textbooks and reference books in great conditions, and at bargain prices. Libraries also tend to sell good quality fiction books that they may have in surplus. If you are going to a library sale, be prepared to put in some effort into finding the good books — while typically, library staff may organize books in a meticulous order, at a sale, they are more likely to throw the books together into a jumbled up pile. Contact the libraries in your area to find out when the next book sale may be.
Go dumpster diving behind large bookstores (at your own risk):
Book stores, just like most other large stores, write off unsold items. Some of the more larger bookstores will take a loss on some of their unsold books. Sometimes, if it costs too much for the book store to ship the books back to the publishers, they may just dump the books instead. The condition of the books you find here will vary. Some bookstores have been known to rip the front cover off the books, and some will toss them out in good conditions. If you are up for the challenge, it would be a good idea to attempt to dumpster dive for books after the store has closed, rather than during shopping hours.
Go to yard sales:
Yard sales are a great place to find a large number of books at crazy low prices. Most times, the sellers are just trying to get rid of their old stuff, and are unaware of the potential values of the items. Go early to get the best selection.
Shop around at estate sales:
Similar to yard sales, estate sales can have a large amount of used books available for purchase. As a tip, seek out high-end estate sales in your area, as wealthier people tend to have lots of high value used books. Books from estate sales tend to be in really good conditions, and are ideal for online book selling. You can typically find information on upcoming estate sales from ads in the local newspaper.
Contact your local elementary and high schools
As newer versions of textbooks, and other reading materials are released, schools may update their stock, leaving a wonderful opportunity for you to acquire them at low prices (or even for free). This may not happen frequently — maybe every one to two years, but it is a good idea to contact schools in your local area to find out if this is a possibility.
Contact publishing warehouses:
At publishers’ warehouses, you’ll find the surplus stock of books with discounts off the original list price. At these sales, you can expect to find a wide-ranging selection of books – anything from hardcovers, bestsellers and out-of-print books can be found. As a tip, you may be able to save time by contacting the warehouse before you take the time to visit, and asking them about any specific titles you may be looking for. Be sure to also ask them about upcoming sales.
Ask friends and family:
When you’re thinking of sourcing used books, friends and family may not even come to mind, but they can be a terrific source of books.
Find them on the street:
While this is a more spontaneous way of finding books, if you live in a bigger city you may be able to find free books on the street. They are usually bundled with a sign that says something like “free books! take one.” You might be surprised at what you could find.
Put an ad up on Craigslist (or other local online classifieds site):
There are two ways you can go about sourcing used books through these sites. The first is to check the “Free stuff” section daily for book giveaways; the second way is to create your own posting advertising the fact that you will pay persons for their unwanted books.
Now that you’ve found all these cool and interesting ways to gather books at relatively inexpensive rates (or even for free), try it out and see how easy it is to can start earning money as an internet bookseller. All you need is the small investment of your time and the cost of a few cheap used books.