Yes, you heard me right.
100k a year selling USED books.
Most people aren't even aware that Amazon offers used books, but they do and business is good.
Here‘s how it works:
1. I go to a thrift store, book sale, or used book store.
2. Use an app on my phone to scan all of the book barcodes.
3. Each time I scan a book the app tells me how much money I would make if I sold that book on Amazon, and if I should buy it or not.
4. I buy the books the app told me to purchase.
5. I list the books in my Amazon store online and price them how I want.
6. Ship all of my books to an Amazon warehouse for storage.
7. When I sell one in my store, Amazon ships it from its warehouse for me.
8. I get paid.
That is the basic idea! And my favorite part about this business is once you've sent your books to Amazon, you will just continue getting paid without having to do much.
It's a lot of fun to wake up and have made money while you slept, trust me.
Running my own bookstore on Amazon is something that allowed me to travel,
gave me the freedom to quit my 9-5,
and through it, I discovered my passion for testing side hustle ideas and building my own income streams!
Now I want to share this idea with you.
I first heard about 'flipping books for profit' a few years ago while browsing a list of side hustle ideas online (much like you are right now),
and I found this FREE 100 Book Challenge.
It said it would be the motivation I needEd to build a $10,000 Amazon book business in 90 days.
It was at a time when I was desperate to quit my waitressing job and travel,
so I took this challenge and I ran with it.
And it worked.
Here is a sales snapshot of my first 90 days.
Just know that these are my Amazon sales, the profit from this was more like $9,000. But still, not bad for my first 3 months and I was also working a full-time job!
Over the past few years of selling books full time (along with starting lots of other hustles), I've learned so many tricks of the trade,
and now I'm ready to share all the secrets of success that I've picked up along the way.
After reading this article you will:
1. Have all of the tools to get started
2. Know where to find books
3. Know how to recognize profitable books (and leave the duds behind!),
4. Be part of the book sourcing community
Part 1: We are not the first people to sell used books on Amazon
Not by a long shot. In fact, when you start sourcing your own books you'll start seeing other booksellers everywhere.
Take a look at how many reviews this bookseller has on Amazon!
It's safe to assume too that they get 1 review per 100 books sold, so clearly they've been doing this a long time and recognized early on how profitable it can be!
Do not let this discourage you! Yes, there is competition. Yes, this business takes hard work to succeed, but yes, there is room for you in this business.
There are plenty of books to go around.
As a newbie running into your first competitor while you're out hunting for books, you may feel discouraged and think that they are scooping up all of the profitable books in your area.
Do not worry.
There are ways to get ahead of the competition that I'll go over later.
Part 2: Are used books even worth anything?
I like to think of used books as little assets because certain books hold their value very well.
Check out this Amazon listing for a Private Pilot Textbook, it was published in 2018 (which is pretty old for a textbook) and yet,
the used copies are selling for almost as much as the brand new ones.
Lots of people assume that used books can't be valuable, but their loss is our gain because that means we can scoop up inventory for low low prices.
Now listen, this is IMPORTANT:
Not. Every. Book. Is. Worth. Selling.
Don't think you can just run into your nearest thrift store, buy out their entire selection of books, and have a successful amazon book store.
Please for the love of God,
don't do that.
Most of the books you will come across are worth NOTHING.
In fact, there are a lot of books on Amazon that if you sell them in your store you will actually LOSE MONEY because either:
1. They won't sell for a lot of money and Amazon takes a large portion of your sale amount in fees
2. No one is buying that book on Amazon and it will never sell.
But thanks to Scout IQ you won't have to worry about bringing home thousands of 'duds', and will always be sure to pick up the best books that will bring in the most profit.
Here's why I love this hustle:
1. It is extremely low risk. Used books are cheap (I buy most of my books from estate sales and thrift stores where prices range from $.25 - $4) so this is one business where you won't have to stress about investing a lot of money upfront.
2. The profit margins are huge. I have a rule where I won't pick up any used book to resell unless I know I can make at least 7x what I spent on it. There aren't a lot of businesses with margins that good.
3. Scout IQ exists. This is the key to a book flipper's success.
It is an app (designed by a bookseller) with a database of all the books listed on Amazon and their current prices.
Why is this so great?
Because you can pick up any book, scan the book barcode with the app, and pull up EXACTLY what your profit would be if you sold it on Amazon.
You don't need to learn book values, you don't need to spend hours looking up random books.
You can zoom through an entire thrift store book section and walk out with a cart of profitable books that you KNOW people are buying.
Then you ship them to Amazon where they do the shipping, storage, and customer service for you.
When they sell on Amazon,
You. Get. Paid.
Let's get started.
Step 1. Create an Amazon Seller Account
Anyone can sign up for an Amazon Seller Account.
They make it very easy to get started but if you need a little guidance this article on How to Start an Amazon Seller Account can walk you through it.
Step 2. Download Scout IQ
Thank goodness for Scout IQ or else I would never have been able to do this. Imagine walking into a thrift store with thousands of books with the task of picking out which books are profitable or not.
It sounds pretty much impossible.
You have no way of knowing who is buying which books and for how much.
You scan a book's barcode and it tells you exactly which ones to buy and which ones to leave behind so you don't end up wasting your money on books that will never sell.
If you want to test it out you get a 2-week free trial so you can make sure bookselling is right for you!
Step 3: Locate where the used books are
Now it's time to find some books. If you haven't already, check out the 100 Book Challenge for some serious motivation that will kickstart your store.
The first couple of months are going to be the hardest while you get the hang of things, but you're learning so it's okay! Don't take things too seriously and try to have some fun while you 'treasure hunt'.
My favorite places to find books are:
Library book sales
Used book stores
Start in that order. The thrift stores are where you're going to spend the most time and you'll learn a lot just by scanning through the books in the store. I was given some great advice when I first started and now I'll pass it along to you. Scan. Every. Book.
I see lots of new book sourcers (and plenty of experienced ones) skip over books and only scan the ones that look interesting to them.
This is a huge mistake.
You have NO idea which books are profitable by looking at them. You are going to learn very fast that sometimes big, fancy-looking books can be worth nothing. And small, (even pamphlet-sized) books can be worth hundreds.
This is one way to have an edge on your competition. Don't skip books, be thorough, and you will see more profits than anyone else.
But before you head out on your first sourcing mission, read up on some of the basics first.
4. Study Up on the Basics
Caleb Roth, from thebookflipper.com, is the master of book flipping and it is on his blog that I learned how to get started. So rather than reiterate what I learned there, I am going to direct you to his blog for the basics and get all of your questions answered.
I recommend you read through the blog in this order:
Once you read those I would consider you ready enough to go out and complete your first book sourcing mission!
Now, don't think that those posts have everything you need to know about this biz. There are a lot of strategies and knowledge that you'll need that he didn't cover there.
And that's where I come in, I have 3 years of experience where books were all I thought about and I want to share all of my success secrets here with you (after you've learned the basics though, I don't want to overwhelm you)
Now that I've shown you the book source bible on thebookflipper.com,
let me introduce you to your new family.
5. Join The Book Flipper Community
The Book Flipper community is a Facebook group filled with thousands of active booksellers!
It was created as a place where booksellers could gather online and ask for help, talk about book sourcing strategies, and provide encouragement for each other.
As you read through all of the blog posts on the book flipper website I’m sure you’ll have some questions.
I recommend heading over to the search bar in this group and typing in your questions there so you can see who has asked them before and what the responses were.
It's a very effective way to get a lot of answers and great advice in a short amount of time.
A quick word of advice,
when you start sourcing books and get a sweet score, you made feel tempted to post about it in the group and show it off!
You will see a lot of people do that and I just want you to be careful not to give away too many details about your sourcing locations.
Some people will see your success and may try to get in on your source too!
You worked hard for those books and I want you to be able to keep your favorite thrift stores and book sales to yourself.
6. Supplies, Tools, & Software
I rounded up all of the supplies I use for my book business so you can check them out here. I will make a more in-depth article going over each supply and how I use it soon but this should get you started.
I will say though, that for boxes if you have a Lowes by you this size of box is cheaper there and works best.
If you go to Walmart for boxes the 14x12x12 size does the trick too! Just not quite as well.
PS: I don't find that the 'heavy duty' boxes are necessary so save your money and get the regular boxes.
Amazon sellers before us have recognized the pain points and struggles us sellers face when it comes to sourcing, listing, and pricing our inventory.
Luckily for us, they've also developed software and tools to make our lives easier and streamline the process.
Time is money after all, and the more time you save on the listing process the more time you have to actually be out there sourcing books!
For listing books FAST: Scanlister
For pricing accurately (and making more money): Keepa
The BEST low-cost inventory repricing: Repriceit
Now you have all of the tools to get started!
Keep an eye out for my next few articles where I will go over my best tips and places to find books.
Until then, feel free to reach out to me on TikTok where I will be answering lots of questions and sharing my advice.