How to Sell a Used Book on the Internet

Is your book collection getting out of hand? You can clean house and make some extra cash by selling your books online. The tremendous reach of the Internet can allow you to sell more books more quickly than you could sell locally, and you'll likely receive higher prices as well. It only takes a couple minutes to list a book for sale, so why not give it a try today?


  1. Image titled Sell a Used Book on the Internet Step 1
    Compare online booksellers. There are a number of websites that allow you to list and sell your books online. Some specialize in textbooks, while others sell all sorts of books. For choosing the best fit for you, consider:
    • How much you have to pay the site: Some booksellers charge a flat fee per book, while others charge a commission on the selling price; still other charges a membership fee instead of, or in addition to, a commission. Shop around to find the best deal for your particular situation, and make sure you understand exactly how much you'll have to pay when your book sells.
    • The site's shipping policy: You'll have to ship the book when it sells, so make sure you understand any requirements for shipping. Most sites require that you ship via a tracking service, for example. Also, find out how shipping is factored into how much you get paid. Do you have to pay shipping out of the book's sale price, or is there a shipping allowance that's added to the price?
    • How you get paid: When someone buys a book, the website will pay you, usually either by direct deposit into your bank account, by PayPal, or by check. Some may pay you immediately, while many pay sellers once or twice a month.
    • How easy it is to list your book: Selling your book online is usually extremely easy. Once you have a seller account at a site, you may be able to simply enter the ISBN and the condition of your book and sell it without entering any additional information. That said, you may want to add more information, and on some sites your ability to do so is limited.
    • The reputation of the bookseller and the amount of exposure your book will get. Most big online booksellers have a good track record, and you can get comparable exposure at most of them, but do your due diligence.
  2. Image titled Sell a Used Book on the Internet Step 2
    Open an account with one or more online booksellers. Choose a site on which to sell your book, or choose a couple if, for example, you want to sell a specialty book and a more general book. You'll usually need to provide your bank account information and/or credit card number, so once again, make sure you feel comfortable with your choice.
  3. Image titled Sell a Used Book on the Internet Step 3
    Find your book's International Standard Book Number (ISBN). The ISBN is a 10-digit number--it will change to 13 digits in 2007--that identifies a particular title and edition. You can usually find it on the back of the book, near or on the UPC code, or on one of the first few pages of a book, where you can also find the copyright date and library classification information. The ISBN system has been used on all books sold internationally since the 1970s (that is to say, most books your will encounter).
  4. Image titled Sell a Used Book on the Internet Step 4
    Find the book online. Enter the ISBN (without dashes) into the search bar of the online bookseller you've chosen. You may also want to get a comparison of prices at other booksellers, either by searching them yourself or by using a free service such as or If your book doesn't have an ISBN, search by author or title.
  5. Image titled Sell a Used Book on the Internet Step 5
    Set your price. In general, set your price about equal to the price that other copies of that book in comparable condition are going for. If you want to make a really quick sale, set your price lower than any other comparable copies; if you just want to get the best price you can and aren't concerned about how long it will take to sell (or if the book is in very high demand), set your price a bit higher. Also consider your expenses (i.e. shipping and commission) and your time when setting the price. Sometimes it just isn't worth it to sell the book if you can't get a decent price.
  6. Image titled Sell a Used Book on the Internet Step 6
    List the book. Follow the directions on the site on which you've chosen to list the book. You probably won't need to enter much information, and there will also likely already be a picture of the book on the site. If you have relevant information or a picture you'd like to add, go ahead, but don't spend too much time on it.
  7. Image titled Sell a Used Book on the Internet Step 7
    Wait. Books in high demand, such as current textbooks and bestsellers, may sell on the same day you list them. Other books may take days, weeks, or months to sell (there's no guarantee you'll sell a book at all). Be patient, and consider lowering your price, revising your listing, or listing the book on another site if you feel like it's taking too long.
  8. Image titled Sell a Used Book on the Internet Step 8
    Ship the book. When the book sells, you'll get a notification email from the site with the buyer's address. Ship the book promptly within the allotted time frame and via the shipping method that the buyer selected.


  • If you enjoy selling books, why not make a living out of it? If you figure out what books to look for you can scour yard sales, estate sales, thrift shops, and other sources of books and then resell them online. If you plan to sell in volume, you should shop around for the lowest-cost site on which to sell your books--it may not be the same as if you're just selling a book or two.
  • Some online booksellers, especially those that specialize in textbooks, will buy books from you directly. You can get a quote from them and if you're happy with it you ship the book to them. Some pay for shipping, provide labels, and will offer payment options other than a check, such as PayPal.
  • Consider trying online auctions. You can sell books on eBay or other general auction sites, and some online booksellers also have auction markets. This may be the way to go if you have a particularly valuable or rare book or if you don't really know how much to sell the book for, but you want to sell it quickly.
  • Check with local booksellers first to find out how much they'll pay for your book. This is usually the quickest way to sell a book, as long as your local store will buy it. Remember that the bookseller has to make a profit too, so you won't get as high as price as it's listed for online. However, if you consider the extra time and expense of selling the book online yourself, selling it to a book dealer may be your best bet, especially for low-priced titles.
  • If you're not sure of the value of a book and you can't find at any online bookseller, try doing a Google search for the title or ISBN. You may come up with an edition of the book somewhere else, or you may be able to find a cached page of a book that was previously for sale. If you plan on selling a lot of books, you can buy or subscribe to a book price guide.


  • Don't list a book on two sites at the same time. If the book sells on both sites, you'll have to either buy another copy of the book to ship to one of the buyers or risk getting negative feedback (and possibly incurring fees) for not providing the book.
  • Be careful giving out personal information online, especially bank account and credit card numbers.
  • If you regularly ask professional booksellers for "opinions" on the value of your books without ever offering to sell to them, you may find them less than welcoming when you come through the door.
  • If you start selling a lot of books, expect to put a lot of time into it. Even if you're just selling a book here and there, consider the time and money you invest, and make sure it's worth it.
  • Always read the fine print on a site's user agreement and payment details.

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Categories: Organizing and Caring for Books | Borrowing and Sharing Books