Make Money Selling Books – An Easy Side Hustle For Anyone

Hello! Enjoy this post about how to make money selling books from a blog friend of mine. You can check out other ideas in my side hustles series here. I like books. In graduate school, I read a lot of books. For seven years, I worked at a couple of bookstores and now for at…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: January 9, 2024

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Hello! Enjoy this post about how to make money selling books from a blog friend of mine. You can check out other ideas in my side hustles series here.

I like books. In graduate school, I read a lot of books.

For seven years, I worked at a couple of bookstores and now for at least the past decade I have purchased books at clearance sales, library sales and garage sales and then flipped them on Amazon for profit.

Another strategy that has also proven quite rewarding is by selling books, CD’s and DVD’s at chain bookstores. I know that several franchises, with stores in multiple cities, purchase used books. Half Price Books is one of them. But my experience and specific tips are based upon sales to Hastings Entertainment, although I suspect that most of the strategies I’ll share are applicable to other establishments as well.

While I do buy used books at garage sales, library sales and such, the better deals may occasionally be found at retail establishments.

For a couple of years, I purchased books at one franchise with a local store which would discount new books to as low as 47 cents each. I would purchase a shopping cart load, resell the more valuable books on Amazon, donate certain needed titles to a university library being developed elsewhere, and trade in the majority of the others at Hastings Entertainment.

Related: 11 Best Ways To Sell Used DVDs Online And Locally

Then for several years another bookstore, that has since gone out of business (understandably), would discount their new books that had been in stock for a couple of years. They would gradually lower the prices until they would sell a sack full for $15.00.

About once every three months I would purchase several sacks full of books with each sack of books having a retail value of several hundred dollars.

Again, I would sell the more valuable books on Amazon, keep a few and then trade in the majority of the rest at Hastings Entertainment. It was very easy to make money selling books.

Now should you attempt to try this at your local Hastings or other used bookstores, below are some of my best tips on how to make money selling used books.


Tips For How A Person Can Make Money Selling Books

1. Purchase books that are in good condition, without marks in the text and without a remainder mark (a marked line) on the bottom edge of the pages. Hardback books that originally came with a cover need to have the cover. Paperback books are fine provided they are trade paper (the larger books) and not mass market (the books that are roughly the length and width of a checkbook). Also, it is important that any book you attempt to trade in at Hastings have a barcode on the back. While older books may sell on Amazon, they typically are not eligible for sales at Hastings.

2. Look around. When taking your books to Hastings or other stores, the associate will usually ask for a valid I.D. and then proceed to scan what you have brought in. Should a book not be in their system or should they already have an adequate supply, then they may reject it. But take heart, just because one Hastings does not need a particular book that does not mean another won’t. If you have found a supplier for newer books, most will probably sell.

3. After all the books have been scanned, the associate will make you an offer. A cash price will be quoted as well as a credit price at most stores. I always take the credit because the credit amount is significantly larger. When accepting the credit, the associate will ask if you’d like that on your account or on a card. I request the card. That way the card can be used at any Hastings and on-line as well. If you are looking to make cash though, then definitely take the cash if you want to make money selling books.

4. Over the years, I have used such credit to purchase an acoustic guitar for my older son, rent DVD’s and buy games. But, there is one other benefit of which most people are unaware. If there is nothing in the store you’d like to purchase, you can use the Hastings card to purchase gift cards for other businesses. For years, we paid for our AT&T go phone by purchasing phone card minutes at Hastings. I have also used such credit to purchase gift cards for Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, Chili’s, On the Border, Macaroni Grill, Cracker Barrel and Sonic. Beyond food, Hastings also has gift cards for movie theaters, Footlocker, Champs and Itunes. Over the years, I have repeatedly bought a few dollars worth of books and traded them in for food, phone minutes, shoes and gifts.

Where Do I Begin So That I Can Make Money Selling Books?

If you’re interested in making money selling books, then your initial question may be “where do I begin so that I can make money selling books?”

I’d suggest you start your quest at home. Go through your books, CD’s, DVD’s and video games. Ask yourself the question, would I rather have this item or a dollar or two or three instead? Once you have a dozen or more items, take them to Hastings or another establishment that buys books and observe how the process works.

Next, if you’re ready to pursue this as a kind of treasure hunting hobby then begin scouting out bookstores and see who might have clearance books that are priced quite low. Often times the clearance items are toward the back of the store, although this isn’t always the case. If you find a store that has a clearance area with books marked perhaps 50% off then check back in a few weeks and see if they have been lowered more. Your objective is to try to purchase books for less than 50 cents each.

If or when you find a store with such deals then that will be your spot to search for discounted treasure again and again. While new bookstores are preferable, not every city has one with such low prices, so check library sales and garage sales as well. Since I like books this can be a win-win situation.

Sometimes I find books that I can sell on Amazon, other times I find books I can sell at Hastings. And even if I don’t find books that I can sell through those two venues, I may find books that I’d like to read myself, because after all, I like books.

Author bio: Carey is a husband, dad, and blogger. He and his wife have been married for 20 years and have two teenaged sons. Carey also has a blog called where he shares practical tips concerning finances and family life. 

Are you interested in learning how to make money selling books? What side hustles do you have?

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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. I used to sell my old books and novel books before. I noticed that I had plenty of books which I didn’t use anymore, so I decided to sell it.

  2. I’ve been thinking it’s either time for a book cull or another bookcase. Trouble is, I’m running out of room for bookcases!

    The second hand bookstore I used to sell to has closed so I might have to explore online options instead. Or, maybe a weekend market… Thanks for the reminder that I need to move this job up the priority list.

  3. Dee @ Color Me Frugal

    Love this! I’ve sold a ton of books in the past, but they have mostly been my own. Now I am wishing we had a Hastings near us though, because it sounds like you’ve had a pretty sweet gig there for a long time!

  4. For the moment I’m trying to sell books via thrifty store but I’d like to try soon also to sell something with the help of web:P

  5. Right before we moved, I started shedding all the personal finance books I’d been sent over the years. The quickest way, though it won’t net the most money, is to trade them in for credit on Amazon. Just list them, pack them in a box or envelope, and send them on their merry way. For the more valuable titles, listing them for sale at the lowest price on Amazon meant it probably lasted a week before it was sold… but then you had to print each one individually. I got rid of probably 30-40 books that way and pocketed maybe a few hundred bucks?

  6. Great tips! I love trading in books. Every time I take a trip to visit my parents I bring a big bag of books to trade in at their local used bookstore. That store is probably one of my top ten favorite places. Sometimes I will take the cash, but usually, I just want store credit. We like to use the trade in money to buy new books for our kids since we homeschool. Sometimes I will treat myself and use the money to add a new book to my collection of antique books.

  7. Amy @ DebtGal

    I have had limited luck selling my old books on Amazon, but I’ve never approached it as a business and bought books specifically to resell. And I really wish I had a Hastings in my area!

    I made $200 selling my daughter’s outgrown clothing and toys at a consignment sale and store this month. 🙂

  8. Natasha

    Great post! I never thought to do this only writing/creating my own books/products.

  9. Jack

    We regularly buy books at the quarterly library sale. Given the low prices, I’ve often considered buying some of the hardcovers for resale or trade-in but never followed through.

    Hastings sounds like a great option, too bad we don’t have any in California. Our local book buyer doesn’t offer good enough prices to make it worthwhile locally.

  10. I’ve made quite a fair amount of extra spending money by selling books I’ve bought at local college book sales and through Facebook garage sale groups. The key is to scan books before paying money for them so you don’t end up with a bunch of unsalable junk. The Amazon app’s picture scanner works really well for this!

  11. Brittney @ Life On A Discount

    All throughout college, I made quite a bit of money doing this. I would buy my text books and reading books on or other cheap sites, use them for class (without marking them up) and then sell them online or to the on campus bookstore. The bookstore would actually pay about 2-3 times what I bought them for because they were used to selling at full price, paying about 25-30% buy back and re-selling again for a profit.

    I haven’t done this in a while, but may just start this up again, especially because I am going back to graduate school in January.

  12. Another good place to check for books would be your local ARC or Goodwill. I’m always buying my books from ARC and on Saturdays, they have additional sales where four colored tags are an extra 50% off. You can check if they’re marked up, but I’ve found brand new books there before. It’s a great way to gain knowledge and save money.

  13. my personal opinion is this…

    If the person is really serious about turning a side hustle into the a full-time online business and not relying on a day job in working paycheck to paycheck anymore, build get the first initial action steps started. People can read all of the true to life side hustle business success stories of people going from regular jobs to full-time online entrepreneurs and still not do a thing in making the first action step towards Internet-based entrepreneurship. Selling books is by far one of the easiest ways to make money online and buying and reselling using eBay, Poshark, LetGo, or selling directly on Amazon marketplace. But it also requires that a person be in a dedicated inconsistent mindset to make the side hustle work for them. I’m glad I went through what I did in my past years working regular jobs because on that much more determined today to never go back to a day job ever again.