How to earn money from selling your second hand books.

We sell quality books like these

We sell quality books like these

You’ve decided to get rid of most of your books, because perhaps you need the space, or are going over to the Kindle, or you’re moving house. But you discover with a shudder that the books you bought for £10 or £15 are now only selling for 1 pence on Amazon (read here to see how that works).
What can you do?

There are ways to recoup some of your money. In most cases however it will involve time, and obviously you won’t recoup most of your original outlay. If you feel that your time is better occupied, then it can be a good idea to just donate the books to a second shop such as ourselves, OffSide Books, 92 Willesden Lane, Kilburn (or a charity shop) so at least others will get the chance to read those books.

Even so, if you’re determined to sell your books, look again at the Amazon second-hand listings. If the traders offering a book for one penny are based in the US then you have a chance. You should sign up as a marketplace operator, and advertise your book, paying particular attention to stressing that you are UK based and will deliver promptly. People use Amazon for convenience, and if they see a book that costs 1 pence (plus postage) but will take 4 weeks to arrive, against another copy that costs £3.90 but will arrive in a couple of days, then they may well go for the quicker option.
Bear in mind though that listing a book does not guarantee a sale – you may have to wait months or years for a sale on a particular book. Take a look at this advice from LifeHacker on selling your stuff on Amazon. Look also at Abebooks (also owned by Amazon) to get an idea of what price you can offer your books.


Ebay is another way of selling second hand books. This works well when you have a batch of related books. For instance if you have 7 history books, or perhaps a group of novels by a certain author (someone like Philip Kerr or Zadie Smith would probably sell well; not so sure about Dan Brown or James Patterson as their books can be found in most charity shops). Do your research – you may find that science fiction or another genre sells better than the run-of-the-mill crime series.

One other option is to sell at a car boot sale. This is probably the most difficult option – you will have to offer bargain prices for many of your books, perhaps 3 books for a pound, and you will do well to cover the cost of attending the sale. But it does give an opportunity to sell other items at the same time.

All of the above options assume that your books are not of the potentially valuable first edition or antiquarian version. Read this to understand why Ebay could be the worst place to sell those books.  For these you would need to speak to specialists – either in person, or by sending an email with pictures and details of the books concerned. Note that many secondhand bookshops are not in this category (we are not). Try looking at the Antiquarian Booksellers’ site to locate these specialists

Good luck – and a reminder that if it’s all too much effort to recoup money for your books, we accept donations at our Kilburn bookshop! 🙂

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