Five reasons to sell books online

By Sharon Fussell, August 5, 2016


I am often asked if it is still possible to purchase low cost books in bulk to start a new venture selling them online.

Now, due to my new way of working, I rarely go out and purchase hundreds of books like I did in the past. In fact these days I rarely even go into charity shops at all.

So because I no longer have to trawl through hundreds of pre-owned tomes in shop back rooms to select the books I felt had the best chance of selling for a profit, I am unable to unconditionally state this is still the case.

However, I am assuming that it is still possible to buy such items because charity shops are usually packed out with unsold books cluttering up their back rooms. Therefore it is always worth asking the manager to sell you books for pennies if you purchase lots of them in one go.

The real question for me remains: is it still worth selling books on Amazon using methods explained in past programmes such as Sold Dispatch Now?

Five reasons to sell books online

1) As business ventures go, bookselling comes with relatively low start up costs, which is perfect if you don’t have much of a budget to kick things off with.

2) Books are still hot products and very much in demand, despite the popularity of ereaders and downloads.

3) Books are easy to dispatch through the post.

4) Books are easy to come by and obtain.

5) Books can be sold on very simply indeed.

But how you would go about selling books online if you’re a complete beginner?

Firstly, you need to source stock suitable to resell online and an easy way to do this is by purchasing a job lot of books from sites such as eBay. You should have a budget in mind for any books you’re keen on before you bid.

Have a look at this example of a bulk offer that may prove quite useful for a relatively small outlay. [insert link into ‘this example of a bulk offer’

You’ll face lots of competition for many titles – and this can drive down prices. The most important thing to remember is it is just a matter of getting what you can for a book and making a profit on the deal.

Personally, I would avoid old books in the hope that because they are old they have value. In most cases, this does not apply at all so be very careful – old books are a very specialist field.

Condition is a key element too, so be careful when purchasing as sight unseen.

It is possible to check out prices by checking barcodes/ISBNs on Amazon before you buy using your smart phone and so, but this is not a very practical approach if you are purchasing hundreds of book at one time. Personally, I would be reluctant to pay over 20p per book – the cheaper the better!

When buying in bulk you may have repeat titles and that’s great if they sell, but not so much if they are not in any demand whatsoever.

Basically, the books that do sell have to make up for those that don’t. When you only pay pennies per book this is very viable, especially if you are lucky with some titles that bring in high profits.

You need to be aware of sizes and weights when listing books at inexpensive prices – and if you cannot list on Amazon due to the low values and lots of competition, try listing on eBay. On eBay, offer a good deal by doubling up with similar genres or writers.

From my own experience, I often match up a DVD with a book, for example a DVD of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to bundle up with the novel of the same name by CS Lewis.

Both of these usually sell cheaply as individual items, thus can often by unprofitable. But by doubling up, it costs the same for you to post (if under 2kg) and presents good value for buyers if priced around £6.99-£8.99.

So what’s best – Amazon or eBay?

Amazon is usually better for niche books sold at premium prices, while eBay buyers tend to be reluctant to pay high prices for books compared to Amazon customers.

Books for sale

I am often asked to advertise books in this eletter. I am happy to be a
go-between but do not actually get involved with any sales.

David from Swindon has over 800 fiction and non-fiction books available in great condition, hardcover and paperbacks. Please email him for further details at [email protected].

Brexit and book sales

Many of you might be wondering how selling on Amazon will be affected in light of the EU referendum result.

You can read about Amazon’s current position here.

If you would like further information on this subject, Amazon have provided a specific email address to contact them on – [email protected] – so do contact them with any questions you may have.


What do you think?

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