How to Make Money by Selling Books Online | #1 Top Tip

How to Make Money by Selling Books Online

Let me guess, you’ve been all over the internet but still, haven’t found what you’re looking for.

You can relax now because you’ve just found it! 🙂

On the next minutes I’ll be glad to share with you my #1 Top Tip on how to make money by selling books online.

This is what we’ll be talking about. So if you’re in some kind of a hurry, feel free to jump directly to the topics you wish.

  • Selling Paper Books Online
  • What Can You Expect from this Buy-Sell Business Model?
  • My #1 Top Tip on How to Make Money Online Selling Books


Selling Paper Books Online

Chances are that you know someone or, at least, have read about someone who started online by selling used items. Books being one of them.

I read about this guy that was a college student – back in 2001 – in need of a few extra dollars. On his spare time he would buy used books for $1.00 and resell them mainly for $5.00 – $7.00.

He was able to make a few extra dollars to spend with his girlfriend at the time.

Don’t get discouraged by the “few extra dollars” I mentioned. At that time, there weren’t so many successful people online willing to talk about their ways.

That’s not the case anymore. So just stay with me and discover how you can do it.

Hunting for Secondhand Books

The system is pretty much the same for everyone engaging on this activity.

First they have to find and buy used books that can be sold by at least a $4.00 margin (to cover all the costs and leave a profit).

Some places people can go hunting for books are:

  • Thrift stores (or Charity Shops) like Goodwill
  • Garage Sales
  • Second-hand bookstores
  • Offer Up (the app)
  • Facebook Marketplace

Of course, you need to know what is worth buying. You don’t need tons of books sitting on your selves for too long. That would be a waste of money.

Check the general conditions of the book and its potential selling price (pretty easy task these days with a simple Google Search).

Actually Selling Your Books

You can sell your books on eBay or Amazon, for instance.

The UPSIDE here is that these sites get huge exposure. Tons of visitors checking them out every day. Your books would be among their selling products and would possibly be seen.

Another positive aspect is that they take care of the payment process, meaning that the buyer will pay them and they will transfer your share to you.

If you take part of the FBA program (also known as Fulfilled by Amazon), you send the books to Amazon prior to their selling and Amazon will take care of the packing and shipping to the buyers. It’s one less headache for you.
On the DOWNSIDE there are the high fees you have to pay both Amazon and eBay, which has a huge impact on a business with such a low profit margin.

Also, if you’re NOT on the FBA program I just mentioned, you will have to take care of packing, shipping, besides taking care of possible complaints.

Definitely not an easy task.

What Can You Expect from this Buy-Sell Business Model?

Successful people selling books online by the process I just explained are making (at the most) $500.00 – $1,000.00 per month.

Make $500-$1,000 by selling used books the traditional way

In my opinion, $500 – $1,000 is not much considering the huge amount of work involved especially hunting down sellable books.

I would only recommend you invest your time in this if you are passionate about buying used books on thrift stores AND you don’t really need extra money that much.

Now, if you want to earn those extra dollars (whether as a part-time or a full-time activity), there’s a better way of selling books.

And by the way, you can always visit thrift stores on the weekends, for fun. 🙂

My #1 Top Tip on How to Make Money Online Selling Books

If you’re one of my regular readers, you already know the answer, right? Affiliate Marketing!

By this business model, you basically promote products/services and get a commission for the sales.

This is usually done by creating a blog, writing reviews on books and including your affiliate links to them.

Related: What’s Affiliate Marketing? And how does it work?.

Here’s a great example of a blog I suggest you check later: Lectito.

Example of a Book Blog using Affiliate Links

But before you do, let me tell you something important: you probably won’t make a lot of money from writing reviews and placing affiliate links on your posts.

Let’s say that you become an Amazon affiliate. You write a review on “The Rooster Bar” by John Grisham and place your Amazon Affiliate link there.

At this moment, the hardcover is selling for $15.47. According to Amazon’s Fee Rates, you’ll get a 4.5% commission. That’s roughly $0.70 for each book sold.

It would take you 1,428 books to receive $1,000.

Even if you consider that on Amazon you get a commission on EVERYTHING your referral buys on the next 24 hours from clicking your affiliate link, it’s still a long shot.

So, why would I say that affiliate marketing IS a better way of making money as opposed to the buy-sell system?

Understanding the Full Potential of Affiliate Marketing

The main difference between both business models comes down to Limitation Vs Unlimited Earning Potential.

When you’re buying books (or any other product for that matter) to sell, your profit is limited – among other factors – to the number of items in your inventory.

On the other hand, when you build your own website and promote your chosen affiliate products, you’re essentially accumulating earning venues.

Once you write a post promoting a product it will be forever available unless the merchant (e.g.. Amazon) decides to discontinue it.

You’ll only need to create more and more posts, promoting more and more products, increasing your chances of making real money.

The key here is to not limit yourself to low-ticket items like books. You need to think outside the box.

Think about your readers’ needs and how you can help them out. Maybe with shelves to organize their books, or tablets for them to read eBooks, bookcase headboards, reading lamps etc.

Bookcase headboards are an example of affiliate product with better price/commission

Or you may even decide to create a website In a different area, a passion, a hobby, or something you have skills on.

The sky is the limit, really!

I hope I was able to show to you the huge potential of Affiliate Marketing and how it can help you make money online.


Who you are tomorrow begins with what you do today.
– Tim Fargo

If you’re ready to take the next step and start as a marketer, you need to choose a platform that offers you reliable training. In this case, I highly recommend you go ahead and read my Wealthy Affiliate Review – The Best Course to Learn Affiliate Marketing.


Click HERE to read my Wealthy Affiliate Review



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Eliane is a Wife, Mother, Entrepreneur, Laptop Lifestyle Enthusiast, and Internet Marketing Support Coach. Ever since she started her Online Business she works from anywhere and whenever she wants to. This means being closer to her kids as they grow up. And she LOVES it!

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20 Responses

  1. Glenys says:

    How to Make Money by Selling Books Online, could you even believe that this title was possible 20 years ago?
    Then AMAZON came along and showed us all how to do it quickly and easily and without any fuss, now EVERYONE thinks about buying books online first and traditional bookshops are closing their doors!
    I like the idea of buying second-hand books cheaply and then making a few extra dollars. Unfortunately just like you said, it can take a HUGE amount of time. I am not sure I would bother actually.
    I do like your idea around Affiliate Marketing. I think that one is more my style.
    Thank you for sharing these great ideas.

    • Eliane says:

      It’s really amazing how things have changed the past years. Amazon, Apple, Netflix just to mention a few.

      Our lives have been dramatically transformed!

      And the next years will come with more and greater transformations! Self-driven cars, robots executing high-precision surgeries… it’s all coming. And really fast!

      Actually, that’s one more thing that makes me like Affiliate Marketing even more.

      Our lives are becoming more technology-based by the hour.

      Selling used books seems too connected to the past while Affiliate Marketing is all about the future!
      It may change in the next years but it will definitely exist in one way or another, for many years to come.

  2. Luis says:

    Hi Eliane! Reading your article comes at a very timely moment!

    It so happens that my parents have MANY paperback books, the majority in very good condition.
    Are Amazon and eBay the only platforms available for selling books online? I know they have great exposure but are there others you could suggest other than these two giants?

    Also, I have heard about Amazon FBA…I live in Mexico. Are there any restrictions which Amazon may implement for non-US FBA users. Does that even exist for non-US collaborators?

    Hope these questions are not too silly.
    I do have many books in very good shape and this sounds like an excellent way to find them new owners and make a bit of money along the way.

    • Eliane says:

      Hi, Luis.
      There’s no such a thing as a “silly question”.

      There’s Amazon FBA in Mexico. It’s totally possible. You just need to be aware of all local requirements and taxes.
      Here’s a link that will give you more information about this topic:

      I mentioned Amazon and eBay because they’re the ones that get the most exposure but each location has its own alternatives. Since you live in Mexico, and we’re talking about a one-time deal (your parents’ books), I’d suggest you make a simple Google Search for local bookstores that buy used books.

      Just as an experiment, I did a quick search: “vender libros usados en México”. And I got several results, one of them being
      You may want to check it out.

      I truly hope this helps you.
      Good luck with that.

  3. Tara says:

    Great article, at first I was thinking – we tried the used books – we lost money because the shipping cost more than the sale.
    I am definitely interested in affiliate marketing, and trying to build up tools and referral links.

    • Eliane says:

      I have no doubt that Affiliate Marketing is a much more promising option, Tara.

      Once you go through proper Internet Marketing training and get the hang of it, you can make a great profit.

      Of course, it’s not overnight and it does need a lot of work, especially at the beginning. But it’s well worth it.

  4. Aj says:

    Great piece!
    I like how you tie in affiliate marketing with the other business model and do a comparison.
    I am new to online marketing so this was very insightful.
    Thank you!

    • Eliane says:

      Hey, Aj.
      Thanks for stopping by.
      I’m glad you thought it was insightful and I hope I could help you in some way.
      The way I see it, you’re on the right path: reading content online that can give you valuable tips on how to improve your business.
      I wish you lots of success.

  5. Orion says:

    Excellent way to introduce Affiliate Marketing, Eliane.

    I really liked the example you give about selling books online. I did see, a while ago, a program that automated this for you and shows how to select the profitable books, but the program was too expensive to start off with – so I gave it a pass.

    Wealthy Affiliate definitely is THE best way to start an online marketing business, they teach EVERYTHING you need! A one shop stop!

    With Gratitude – Orion

    • Eliane says:

      Yes, Orion, I read about a program that helps to select the profitable books but it was something like $400 plus $20.00 – $50.00 per month.
      In a business that you’re struggling to make a $4.00 margin, that’s quite an investment.

      Internet Marketing is the best choice. And can say that so far, I haven’t found a better Internet Marketing platform than Wealthy Affiliate.

  6. Tanya says:

    Yes, selling books was a great introduction to Wealthy Affiliate, which I participate in, but I also like the idea of selling books.
    Like you say, there is not a whole lot of money in it.

  7. David says:

    Eliane, that is an interesting tip that you have, about making money by selling books online, using the affiliate marketing model. I can see where it would help people. A few questions come to mind:
    1. How many book reviews would you have to write for a blog before it became profitable?
    2. Do you know of any good places to get blogger training so that the blog is successful sooner rather than later?

    • Eliane says:

      Hi, David!

      Getting profit from a blog is actually not just a matter of how many book reviews. Like I said, you get much better chances of making money if you also promote other products, with higher prices and commissions.

      Also, you don’t need to only write reviews. You can offer tips on better reading habits and naturally mention the reading lamp you’ve been using, for example.

      So, instead of thinking about the number of articles, you should focus on the value you’ve been providing to your readers.

      Another important aspect is the traffic you’re getting and your conversion rates. If neither of them is looking good, it won’t make any difference if you have 1,000 posts on your website.

      That’s why I highly recommend getting proper training and learning the best Internet Marketing practices in Wealthy Affiliate.

  8. Great article informative and great way to clear up some room on my bookshelf.
    I wonder if I could sell my college books, which are only a couple of years old. I think that this may lead to providing someone a discount for the books they need for their education. Very cool.
    When you get a chance take a look at the new format that the WA has implemented just today.
    Thanks again Eliane.

    • Eliane says:

      I bet you can sell those college books of yours, Xavier.
      If not on Amazon and eBay, there are other alternatives. I would just run a Google search for “sell used books online + your location”.

      And about Wealthy Affiliate, yes, I saw the new UX and I absolutely love it so far. Things keep getting better and better there! Going through all training and learning from other Internet Marketers has never been so easy 🙂

  9. Gary says:

    Selling second-hand books sounds like a great money-making idea, Eliane.
    I’m outside the USA so shipping charges for sending books to the USA would be very expensive, wiping out any profit.
    I could try selling to the UK market but it’s much smaller than the American market.
    I much prefer the affiliate marketing model you outline in your post. So many more possibilities to capitalize on!

  10. Jeff says:

    You have me all ready to start searching all the second-hand shops for their used books to sell online, but then you hit me with even a better opportunity affiliate marketing. A very motivational post had me motivated and interested from the start.
    So how did you ever start writing your own blog?


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