The secret to knowing which books will yield a profit…

By Sharon Fussell, July 10, 2014



This week I have received a few requests for assistance as to what type of books are best to buy to resell on Amazon…

Are study books the best type? What about biographies? Is it best to sell NEW books – or used books? Fiction opposed to non-fiction?

These are really good questions, however, I am afraid when it comes to choosing items to re-sell, there is no definitive answer…The secret to knowing which books will yield a profit...

I could easily state that condition is the most important consideration to make when picking out items to sell.

Condition really is important – but, conversely, there are fantastic profits to be made with scruffy, older books.

I could state that biographies are definitely the best type of books to sell. Conversely, not all biographies yield the best profits: it’s virtually impossible to pin-point a particular subject matter and say categorically anything from this subject will make great profits.

What about books that are old and therefore must be valuable?

Nope, afraid not: just because books are ‘old’ – even hundreds of years old – does not mean they will be worth thousands of pounds. In most cases they are only useful for fuel if you have a ‘real’ fire!

Surely it is best to concentrate on paperback books: they are lighter and cheaper to post than hardcover books, aren’t they?

Conversely, this is not always the case. On the whole, hardcovers are heavier and thus will cost more to post, but some paperbacks can weight 2kg or more.

In fact, it is just impossible to ‘judge books by covers’, or by their topics or condition.

The best way to ensure a book will yield a profit is to check before you buy.

This is easy to do if you have a smartphone: you can download a barcode app and take photographs to compare prices on Amazon.

One such app is Price Check by Amazon, but there are others if you Google it.

If you don’t have a smartphone but your phone does have Internet, you can input the ISBN from a book into Amazon’s search engine. It is therefore possible to research the book’s potential value on Amazon.

If you wish to do this, bookmark Amazon onto your phone, then when you’re out sourcing potential books to re-sell, you can quickly input the ISBN from the books you have picked out, and check price information.

Personally, when I am checking books, time is limited – so to ensure I get the best returns for time allowed, I usually only bother with books that I believe will yield the best profit.

If I am wrong, I will discard any books that will not allow a profit…

Thus, when time is a factor, I will avoid fiction, popular non-fiction (such as David Beckham biographies), children’s books, Readers Digest books with out-dated topics (such as older DIY topics), contemporary football annuals, and A–Z health encyclopaedias.

Here are some examples of book-types I hone in on when time is pressing:

  • Sheet music
  • Current study books
  • Current reference books
  • Niche biographies
  • Unusual crafts
  • Unusual cookery books
  • History books
  • Current travel books
  • Unusual sports

Don’t dismiss a subject just because it’s not a subject you like personally. For example, rugby is not a sport I like, but I have made some great profits from selling rugby books.

You may find that as you get used to checking out books, certain books leap out from the shelf at you. When this happens, go with your instincts and check them out. More often than not you may find you are right.

Happy hunting!


One Comment

  1. Terry Fennell says:

    This is very true, although I haven’t yet bought any books for resale, I have listed a number of my own unwanted books and also some that i inherited.
    Some I thought would be sale-able had so many listed for a penny that they went to the charity shop or were recycled.
    On the subject of penny sales, how do these people make a profit when Amazon’s postage charge is so low?. As you stated some paperbacks can weigh 2Kg, is there a way of getting more postage to cover these heavy books?

What do you think?

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