Income Streams

Book Flipping Guide – Become an Expert Today!

If you’re a book lover or even just a student who has shelves that are filled with books you haven’t touched for years, this book flipping guide might be for you! It’s been quite the trend for earning money on the side, especially amongst college students who have piles and piles of new textbooks each year. 

After all, it’s effective一the demand for textbooks never decreases since there will always be a new batch of students entering university every year. Then, all you really have to do is sell the books you don’t even need anymore. It’s going to be a win-win situation since the new students can get your used book for a cheaper price, and you can get some of your money back.

However, all this doesn’t come easily: you have to make sure that your books are still flippable, usable, and readable when you decide to sell them. More than that, there are specific strategies and guidelines that you have to look out for, so if you want more specific details on how to start, you can continue reading to become a book flipping with this guide.

What exactly is book flipping?

Book flipping isn’t just about selling your used books to others; it’s a form of business that you can actually sustain outside of just your personal inventory of books. It’s an arbitrage, meaning you can both buy then sell a product at once. But, how exactly do you make money from that?

Well, the best way to explain online book arbitrage, in particular, is that you will have to take advantage of the small differences in price points between platforms. For example, if you find a book on Goodwill for $10, you can start selling used books on Amazon for a higher price. Let’s say you sold it for $13. You would be able to earn that difference of $3 in the whole process.

More than that, some platforms also accept used books, and you can directly sell your books to them. You don’t have to worry about the chances of people actually seeing and buying your book on the platform anymore! You just have to start looking through all the available options and find out which one is the best for you, but we’ll, of course, discuss what we think is the best strategy to go about it.

How to start book flipping?

Start collecting a stock of books

If you don’t already have a pile of books lying around, you can always look for and purchase cheap ones. There are so many garage sales or thrift stores that sell these books everywhere, and you can very easily source out some to resell. 

There are also many stores online, like Goodwill Books, that sell used books for charity, and you can totally buy one from them. That way, you’d be able to get an inventory and contribute to a good cause at the same time! 

However, remember that you don’t need a bunch of books at the very beginning of your book flipping journey. It’s still a business you’re investing in, so make sure that you don’t put in a ton of money before you’re relatively sure that it’s a good and suitable activity for you. 

Evaluate the quality of your book 

Once you’ve gathered your books, it’s time to price and evaluate them by quality. You should try to see for yourself and look in the perspective of a buyer when checking your books’ qualities. Are they still clean? Are the pages still flippable? Have you added too many notes or highlighter marks?

You can also look through the marketplaces themselves to see how much other sellers are pricing their books. Examine their products to see if they’re of the same quality and worth as yours. Then, you can just base your prices on theirs. 

Where to sell books near me? 

Different marketplaces have various standards for their products, and you will have to research and figure out yourself which ones would pay you the highest. It’s about efficiency in this step: you’d have to know which choice is the best for you without having to search high and low for it. 

Remember that your time is also valued. However, to make things easier for you, we have summarized Amazon’s guidelines down below since this platform is usually the most recommended out of all. If you’d like, you can use their conditions as a basis for your search. 

Start selling

Again, there are two ways you can sell your books:

Sell independently

If you plan on selling your books independently as kind of a small business, you can look for online marketplaces like Facebook or eBay wherein your prospective buyers can see your product amongst others. 

Doing this will take some time, though, as you really need to wait for exposure. Your books won’t sell immediately after you’ve posted them, and you will have to be patient for a client to contact you. 

You also have to consider some marketing strategies if you’re really taking this business seriously. Creating a brand and name for yourself as a reliable seller will take some effort on your end, so just make sure that you have a solid plan.

Trade your books in exchange for compensation

Flipping books on Amazon is actually recommended by many since they look for certain books that you might already have. You can explore and scroll through your search results, then check individual books out to see if there’s a “Trade in yours for an Amazon gift card up to (amount of money).”

How to make money selling books on amazon?

If you don’t already have the specific book on hand, you can find options wherein the price of the cheapest offer is lower than the gift card that Amazon’s offering you. That way, you can just buy the already used one then trade it onto the platform.

For example, if you see a used book worth $100 and Amazon’s offering a $114.5 gift card, you’d have a $14.5 allowance or income. 

Amazon used book conditions

All that is true, but you have to check Amazon’s Marketplace Items Condition Guidelines to see if your item is eligible for online book reselling

  • Used – Like New: The book has small flaws along the cover, spine, or pages. These include some cuts, tears, folds, or crushes. The outside edges may be frayed, but the dust cover should be whole or undamaged. The pages should not be marked by any previous notes. 
  • Used – Very Good: The book has small flaws along the cover, spine, or pages. These include some cuts, tears, folds, or crushes. The dust cover, set packaging, and shrinkwrap may be missing, and the outside edges may be frayed. All these damages must be indicated in the description of the item.
  • Used – Good: The book may contain the “From the library of” label and has small flaws along the cover, spine, or pages. These include some cuts, tears, folds, or crushes. The dust cover, set packaging, and shrinkwrap may be missing, and the outside edges and spine may be frayed. The pages may contain minimal marks from notes and highlights. All these damages must be indicated in the description of the item.
  • Used – Acceptable: The book’s cover and pages must be complete and intact, and the dust cover, set packaging, and shrinkwrap may be missing. The outside edges and spine may be frayed, and the pages may contain minimal damage from water and marks from notes and highlights. The text must still be readable, and all these damages must be indicated in the description of the item.

Ship the book

Before actually closing the deal, you have to ensure that you have a clear plan on which areas of the world you want to target. Of course, international shipping would be far more expensive than local, so you also have to take those into consideration when setting up your store.

Sell independently

If you are managing the business yourself, you’d have to create a systematic approach to shipping your products. You would have to pay certain fees whenever you’re sending items to someone else across the country or even the world, so make sure to be as efficient as possible.

You can group your clients by location and send out your books per interval. For example, if you send a large package of books with individual wrapping and labels to one country, the post can deliver these smaller packages to your different clients. 

If you’ve really taken this business seriously, you can also partner with delivery and shipping companies to get discounts or deals. These companies usually sign with their regular and large customers, so make sure that you stick to one to gain the loyalty benefit.

Trade your books in exchange for compensation

Some platforms actually offer a free shipping voucher to those who are trading in their books. For Amazon, in particular, you can avail of their gift card offer and they’d give you a voucher code for free shipping. It would be really simple: just get a box, put your book in, and stamp it with Amazon’s free shipping sticker. 

From a business point of view, doing this will benefit your business since that means less cost or expenses. You will, in turn, earn more than if you sell your books independently, given that the prices are the same. 

Charge your customer

You have to set up your payment methods and make them clear to your target audience. If you’re catering to international customers too, ensure that you can actually receive their payments and indicate it in your description.

Sell independently

Some of the most accessible payment methods are PayPal for international clients and bank transfers for local ones. The quantity of methods actually depends on you: if you want to be more available to your clients, set up more accounts to give them options. There’s a downside to it though一it would be a lot harder to manage. 

You will have to keep track of so many different payments from various platforms, and you might miss out on any anomaly. So, if you do decide to set up a lot, you have to be mindful and careful at all times. Remember that while it wouldn’t be too hard to manage, it also wouldn’t be too hard to disrupt.

Once you’ve closed the deal with a customer, you can either ask them to pay you upfront, on instalment, or after the transaction. It would be wise for you to charge the person 100% or even just half of the price first before shipping the item to avoid scams, but you have to consider that some payment platforms actually charge you whenever you receive or send money. 

Trade your books in exchange for compensation

Since you aren’t selling to individual people, the whole process would be a lot more systematic. These are operating companies, so they’d already have a procedure that you need to follow. More than that, you also don’t have to worry about scams as much since they are relatively a lot more reliable. 

On Amazon, you have to keep in mind that the company will pay you in Amazon gift cards. If you’re already an avid buyer from the platform, this would probably not be an issue, but if you aren’t, you can look for other platforms that can convert the card to cash or digital money. But, doing so can decrease the value of your card.

Most people would only buy your gift card if they get to pay you at a lower price. For example, most would buy a $100 gift card for $98 since they’d be saving money that way. This would probably be the case for you, too, so just make sure that you have enough allowance for that to happen if ever you choose this process.

Start your budgeting

Once you already have funds from selling books, you can use them in buying more to continue with your business. Again, you have to consider everything: your time and expenses. You should only buy a quantity you can handle, and you should also allot some money for yourself一you can’t just keep investing in this business.

The best way to manage and monitor your funds is by actually tracking and listing them on paper or an application. There, you can check if you’re really earning from what you’re doing, and you can also adjust your prices or manage your time more efficiently.

After you’ve managed your funds, you can already build a new inventory of books. You will now repeat the whole process, making changes from time to time according to what you’ve learned from your previous experiences.

How much money can you make with book flipping?

The money you earn all depends on you. Book flipping isn’t a passive income generator at all一you’d have to actively participate in the whole process, from buying to delivery. It’s undoubtedly a good investment of your time and energy if you’re looking for an effective way to earn money on the side but be prepared for a lot of commitment.

If you’re already really busy with your regular work or studies, you can ask a friend or a family member to operate the whole thing in your stead, but that in itself isn’t really productive. It also wouldn’t earn you as much money since you would need to pay another person as well. What you can definitely do is to spend your weekends or breaks on the activity.

You can spend a few hours a day looking for books to buy, then actually sell them some other time. It’s all about management and taking what you can handle. If you don’t think you can oversee a large inventory of books, you can stick with smaller ones. Just be consistent with it, and you can, for sure, earn a significant amount of money.

We’ll try to compute it for you right now. If it takes you around half an hour to find a book to buy, you can easily spend 3 hours in a week to sell 6. It’ll depend on your prices, of course, but if you can earn around $15 off each one, it would be around $90 per week, equating to $360 per month. 

That’s not much at first glance, but considering the amount of work you did, it’s surely a fair amount. If you only spend 12 hours a week engaging in book flipping, your hourly rates would be around $30. It’s really not bad, and way above minimum wage if you’re online book reselling in Canada

In conclusion, the amount of work you put into book flipping will certainly project itself in the amount of money you earn. You just have to be efficient and organized whenever you’re engaging in it, and you can definitely make a considerable amount of money off it as a side hustle. 


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