How to Create Your Own Used Bookstore and Make a Living Online

Create Your Own Used Bookstore Online

People think that because ebooks are becoming more popular, that the market for used books is drying up. I beg to differ! While I am far from making a living selling used books, I have made a side income selling books I no longer have a need for or books I’ve found at a used bookstore.

However, there are people out there who make a living and then some by finding and selling used books online. Here are some tips that I’ve found from these expert sellers that may help you found your own used bookstore business online!

Start Small

I’m sure like a lot of us out there, you have some used books you just know you’re never going to read again. Think kids’ books, used textbooks, or even those paperback novels you’ve kept over the years, but have never read again. Why not sell them online? While you may not get top dollar for them, getting something is better than nothing.

Also, keep in mind that the better shape your book is in, the better chance you have at selling it. No one wants to buy a book that’s falling apart, covered in scribbles, been chewed on by the family dog, and the like. While some wear and tear is okay, you have to ask yourself if you would buy the book in the current shape it’s in. Otherwise, you might do better to recycle it rather than try to sell it.

Do Your Research

Once you have gotten the knack of selling your own books, the next step is to start checking out garage sales, thrift stores, your local library book sales, and even Craigslist for books where you can make a profit. You don’t want to spend more money than a book’s worth to used book sellers. That’s where having a smartphone or tablet will come in handy, because there are apps for checking the going rate of used books with barcode scanners while you are out and about. There are two apps that I know of:

  1. Has both iPhone and Android apps
  2. This handy service actually checks OTHER book sellers’ prices for you for a quick comparison. You can use their mobile site at or download their apps. They also sell regular barcode scanners, should you not have access to a smartphone.

Start Selling!

There are three methods for selling used books online:

  1. Listing your inventory with a used book seller like,, and of course and doing the shipping yourself. Some of these sites will charge you a small fee for either listing or shipping, or both! However, you will get reimbursed for the cost of shipping with (this I know first-hand). This is good if you’re just starting out and don’t have much inventory.
  2. Using used book sellers like, which will send you a prepaid label for the books they agree to buy from you. You must box them up and ship them to whichever service you go with. Also good for beginners.
  3. Selling through Amazon’s FBA (fulfillment by Amazon) service. You box up your books and ship them off to be stored in an warehouse. It’s also the only way you can have your books shipped via Prime, Amazon’s free 2-day shipping and free video service program. This is the best service for people who have a big business and thus more inventory than they can store on-site.

If you’re doing your own shipping, it goes without saying that you should stock up on shipping supplies such as bubble mailers for smaller books and boxes and packing material for larger, heavier hardcover books. You’ll also need a postal scale, which you can find online or at your local office supply store easily. Each used book service has different methods for shipping, and whether or not they reimburse you, so be sure to check how that works.

Whenever I have sold a book through Amazon, I immediately pack it up and label it with the labels the Amazon selling service generates for you after you purchase your shipping. I then set it out for my daily mail pickup. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

So, as you can see, it’s not that hard to earn a little side income from selling used books. However, I would by lying if I said that creating your own used bookstore online was easy, mainly with all of the sourcing and inventory management it requires.

If you’re really considering making your own business out of this, I strongly suggest these Kindle books from Amazon:

There are also some great courses on Udemy about selling with Amazon’s FBA service. Udemy often runs specials where courses cost only $10 to $15, or they offer them at a steep discount, like 90% off! So, don’t freak out at how much these cost right now. Just add them to your favorites, and wait for a special to come along (it’s what I do, to be honest):