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Nov 15, 2023

Book Flipping: How to Buy and Resell Books for Profit

What is book flipping?

Book flipping is a smart side hustle where you buy and resell used books for profit, often using online platforms and book-buying sites like WeBuyBooks.

We can all agree it would be nice to have a bit of extra cash, right? Book flipping lets you tap into the lucrative secondhand market and earn money while indulging your love for books. Whether you're looking to supplement your income or fund your next big purchase, this venture offers a fun and rewarding way to turn your passion into profit.

Whether you’re looking to declutter your collection or seeking an extra income stream, reselling books offers a creative and rewarding way to make money from books.

What types of books can you resell for a profit?

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When selling books for profit, research market demand and pricing trends for specific genres and titles to maximise your potential earnings.

Take a look at the types of books that you can resell for a profit:

Textbooks: College textbooks, especially those in high-demand fields, tend to fetch good prices.

Rare and Collectible Books: First editions, signed copies, and out-of-print books can be valuable to collectors.

Antique Books: Old and ornate volumes with historical significance can be sought after by enthusiasts.

Popular Fiction: Bestsellers and popular series books often have a steady market.

Non-Fiction Books: Books on specific niches such as self-help, cooking, or hobbies can have resale value.

Children's Books: Vintage or classic children's books can be in demand among collectors and parents.

Art and Coffee Table Books: High-quality books with stunning visuals and photography can fetch good prices.

Graphic Novels and Comics: Rare comic books and graphic novels can be valuable to collectors.

Special Editions: Limited or special editions of books often have resale potential.

Reference Books: Dictionaries, encyclopedias, and specialised reference materials can have resale value.

What does it cost to start making money from books?

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The cost of reselling books can vary widely depending on your approach and resources. Here are some key expenses to consider:

Inventory: The most significant upfront cost is buying the books to resell. You can start small by scouring local charity shops, garage sales, or online marketplaces, which might only set you back a few pounds per book. Or, you can invest more by buying in bulk or snagging valuable collectables.

Shipping Essentials: To send out any sold books, you'll need some basics like boxes, bubble wrap, tape, and shipping labels. It's important to make sure your books arrive in great shape to keep your customers happy and minimise the need for refunds. After all, putting in the effort only to have items returned isn't ideal. But, remember that these small packaging costs can add up over time.

Online Marketplace Fees: If you choose to sell on platforms like Amazon or eBay, be prepared for listing fees, transaction fees, and, in some cases, subscription fees for seller accounts.

Storage Space: Depending on how many books you've got, you might need some storage space—whether it's renting a tiny storage unit or carving out a corner in your home. Figuring out if the cost of storage is worth the potential profits is key to deciding if book flipping is your new favourite hobby!

Tools and Equipment: Get yourself set up with a trusty computer or smartphone for online listings, a high-quality camera for those book photos, and a handy barcode scanner. With a trusty scanner, you'll zip through tasks faster and keep things on point, freeing up more time for treasure-hunting books!

Shipping Costs: Don't forget about shipping costs—those sneaky fees will catch up to you! Make sure to include them when pricing your books for sale.

Optional Expenses: You might want to splurge on book-scouting software or join book-sourcing networks to make your book-hunting easier and more fun!

The startup cost can be anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand pounds, depending on how big you want to go and what you’ve got to work with.

Where to Sell Books

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When it comes to selling books, there are several reputable platforms to consider:

Book Buying Sites: WeBuyBooks allows you to sell your books in four easy steps:

  1. Scan or Enter the Barcode
  2. Get an instant valuation
  3. Package
  4. Post for FREE, get paid!

Turn your mobile phone camera into a barcode scanner and get 10% EXTRA of your first trade!

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Selling your books is even quicker with the WeBuyBooks mobile app. Turning your mobile phone camera into a barcode scanner our mobile app allows you to sell your items on the go in a matter of seconds. The WeBuyBooks mobile app is available on iOS and Android devices.

No barcode? Get in Touch Get in Touch for a personalised valuation.

Amazon: One of the biggest online marketplaces out there, Amazon offers a huge customer base for selling both new and used books. However, with so many sellers, it can get pretty competitive, which might affect your pricing and visibility. Keep in mind that Amazon has various seller fees that can eat into your profits. Plus, they have strict policies, and breaking the rules could get your account suspended.

AbeBooks: AbeBooks is an online marketplace specialising in rare and collectable books, making it an ideal platform for valuable or unique book listings. While focused on rare books, the platform may not be as suitable for selling common or mainstream titles. AbeBooks charges listing fees, which could affect your profit.

eBay: eBay is a great platform for selling books, offering a wide reach and the option to auction rare or collectable editions. You can try different pricing strategies with its flexible listing formats, including auctions. While it can be competitive and other sellers' prices might impact yours, learning how to manage auctions and navigate the platform can be worthwhile.

Each platform has unique strengths and attracts different audiences. Choosing the best one for your books depends on their value, condition, and your selling strategy.

Where to Find Books to Sell

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It's essential to consider your budget, time commitment and risk tolerance when deciding where to find profitable books for resale. Each of these sources has its advantages and drawbacks, so successful entrepreneurs often combine multiple channels to diversify their inventory. Here's a breakdown of where to find books, along with their pros and cons:

Car Boot Sales:

Pros: Car Boot sales often offer books at low prices, making them budget-friendly sources. You can sometimes find hidden gems or rare editions.

Cons: Selection can be limited, and it may require time and effort to visit multiple sales to find valuable books. Quality and condition can vary widely.

Charity Shops:

Pros: Charity shops are a reliable source for affordable books. You can feel good about supporting a good cause.

Cons: Finding valuable books can be hit or miss and popular titles may be quickly picked over. Inventory can be limited in smaller shops.

Facebook Marketplace:

Pros: Facebook Marketplace allows you to search for books in your local area, making it convenient for pick-up. You can negotiate prices directly with sellers.

Cons: The selection might not always be extensive. Meeting with individual sellers can be time-consuming.


Pros: eBay offers a vast and diverse selection of books from around the world. You can research and list books at your own pace and reach a global audience.

Cons: Competition can be intense, and seller fees can add up. Shipping costs and logistics need to be managed effectively.


Pros: Gumtree can be a local source for books, and you can often negotiate prices. It's straightforward to arrange in-person transactions.

Cons: Listings may not always be up-to-date, with selection being limited, and you'll need to exercise caution when meeting with strangers.

Second-hand Book Shops:

Pros: Second-hand bookstores have a curated selection of used books, including collectables and rare editions. Staff may have the expertise to help you find valuable titles.

Cons: Prices in speciality bookshops can be higher, and the profit margin may be slimmer. Finding rare books might require patience.

Step-by-Step Guide to Selling Books for Profit

Step 1: Build Your Knowledge

  • Start by getting to know different book genres and their resale potential. Learn to spot valuable editions, first printings, and popular authors.

Step 2: Set a Budget

  • Decide how much you're comfortable investing in your book-selling business. This budget sets the size of your business and guides what you buy.

Step 3: Source Books

  • Explore various sources like charity shops, car boot sales, estate auctions, online marketplaces and library sales to find books at affordable prices.

Step 4: Research and Appraise

  • Use tools such as book-scouting apps, websites, and pricing guides to investigate the potential resale value of the books you purchase.

Step 5: List for Sale

  • Create irresistible listings by including clear photos and accurate descriptions when selling books online, whether on platforms or your own website.

Step 6: Pricing Strategy

  • Develop a pricing strategy that considers market trends, condition and demand. Be competitive without underselling yourself.

Step 7: Manage Inventory

  • Stay organised with your books to streamline listing and shipping. Consider barcode scanners and inventory tools for smoother management of your sales.

Step 8: Marketing and Promotion

  • Harness the power of social media, email marketing, and other promotions to expand your reach and boost sales.

Step 9: Customer Service

  • Keep your customers happy by keeping on top of answering questions and fulfilling orders. Great reviews can really boost your rep and sales!

Step 10: Adapt and Evolve

  • Keep up with what's hot in the book market, tweak where you get your books, and keep developing your business strategy.

Selling books can be a cool side hustle and a way to dive into your love for literature. It might take a bit to hit your stride, but with dedication and a smart approach, it can be really rewarding.

Fancy an easier way to make cash? WeBuyBooks allows you to make quick cash in 4 easy steps:

  1. Scan or Enter the Barcode using the WeBuyBooks app
  2. Get an instant valuation
  3. Package
  4. Post for FREE, Get paid!

How much can you make flipping books?

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The potential earnings from reselling books can vary widely and depend on several factors:

  1. Book Value: The primary factor in determining profits is the value of the books you buy. Rare and collectable books can yield substantial returns, while common titles may provide smaller profits.
  2. Selling Platform: The choice of where you sell your books matters. Amazon, eBay, and specialised book marketplaces offer different audiences and pricing.
  3. Effort and Strategy: How effectively you source, price, and market your books plays a crucial role. Invest time in research and strategic selling to maximise your profits.
  4. Inventory Size: The more books you flip, the greater your potential earnings. However, this also requires more time, storage, and upfront investment.
  5. Market Trends: Book values can fluctuate based on market trends and demand, so timing can impact your profits.

Some book flippers make a few hundred pounds a month on the side, while others turn it into a full-time gig earning thousands. Success comes from knowing your stuff, staying committed, and being flexible to boost your earnings. Start with realistic expectations and grow your business as you gain experience.


How do you turn books into money?

To make money from books, begin by finding them in places like charity shops, car boot sales, or online marketplaces, focusing on titles that can be resold for a profit. Research what's hot in the market and price your books competitively when listing them on platforms like Amazon, eBay and AbeBooks. Consistency, patience, and sharp book-spotting skills are crucial for turning your book collection into a successful side hustle or business venture.

What books should I look for to resell?

When hunting for books to resell, target genres like textbooks, rare or collectable editions, popular bestsellers, and niche non-fiction subjects such as self-help, cooking, or hobbies. Look for first editions, signed copies, and out-of-print titles—they often fetch higher prices in resale. Stay updated on market demand and pricing trends to make smart choices about which books will bring the best resale value.

What are some challenges faced by book flippers?

Book flippers face a bunch of challenges when trying to sell books and make a profit. Finding good books at decent prices can be tough and takes time. Keeping up with what's trending, handling inventory that goes up and down in price, and dealing with shipping and fees from online places, can also be tricky. Also, setting the right price to maximise your profit takes skill and research.

What are some risks of flipping books?

Like any business, reselling has its risks. One biggie is buying books that just won't sell, leaving you with books sitting around and losing money. Changes in what people want, how much they'll pay, and what other folks are listing can also mess with how much cash you make. Plus, shipping mess-ups, dealing with customers who aren't happy, and stuff you didn't expect to pay for can be a pain too.

How long does it take to flip a book?

The time it takes to flip a book can vary a lot based on things like the book’s price, how much people want it, and how you sell it. Usually, selling a book that’s priced fairly and in demand can take a few weeks to a couple of months. But if you’ve got a high-value, rare, or super collectable book, it might take a lot longer for the right buyer to show up—maybe even several months or years.

How do you find books to resell?

When you're looking for books to resell, try a bit of everything. Check out charity shops, car boot sales, library sales, estate auctions, and online markets. It's also smart to connect with other book lovers and dealers—they can point you to some real treasures. Look for books that are special, like first editions or ones that are in really good shape, to build up a collection that makes good money.

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