How to Make Money From Books You Can’t Sell Online


It’s an annoying truth about selling books online – sooner or later, you’ll find some of the books you bought can’t be sold for a profit.

The reasons for this vary – maybe the books you listed on Amazon suddenly dropped in value, leaving you with a lot of worthless inventory. Maybe the buyback companies that offered good prices reduced or removed their bids. Or maybe you found some of the books you bought were damaged, preventing you from selling them for extra money.

When this happens, you’ll need to have some strategies in place that will let you sell or trade those books for a profit and institute some clutter control on your home.

Here is a simple 4-step plan you should follow on a regular basis to get rid of that excess stock as soon as possible.

Step 1: Keep the Books You Expect to Rise in Value

Sounds kind of counter intuitive, doesn’t it? After all, isn’t this article about how to declutter your home from excess books?

Well it is. But it’s also true that a lot of book buyback companies you find on Bookscouter tend to buy the same books over and over again – and even when a certain book doesn’t receive any bids one day, it will suddenly receive multiple cash offers the next day.

A lot of this has to do with when you sell the book – many textbooks and other educational materials become more valuable before a new college semester when the book buyback companies are building up their stock. So sometimes, it pays to wait for a while and see if your books rise in value.

As you become more familiar with selling books online, you’ll discover what books and titles you can expect to reliably sell over and over again. (Quick tip: many of the same classic American and English literature titles regularly receive attractive bids from many buyback companies, particularly and Sell Back Books.)

Here’s what I suggest – keep an empty cardboard box by your desk as you look up buyback bids (preferably with a scanner if you want to make your job easier) for your books on Bookscouter. When you come across a book you think will be eventually profitable but isn’t currently receiving any bids, place it into the box.

Over the next few days, re-scan the ISBNs of these books through Bookscouter and see if any book buyback companies are offering any bids. Odds are, you’ll be able to still re-sell some of these books for a profit.

After a week, if you have any books left, you’ll want to get rid of them using some of the strategies below.

Step 2: Return Any Books to Thrift Stores with a Return Policy

Some thrift stores offer a return policy on the items you buy from them, allowing you to exchange some of your worthless stock for trade credit that you can use to buy more profitable books.

There’s often a time limit on how long you can keep the merchandise before returning it (usually about two weeks), so make sure you learn the store’s policy when you purchase books from them.

Most stores also require you to have your original receipt with you when you return items, and the price tag may need to still be on the book so the item can be re-scanned back into their inventory.

To ensure that you have all these materials with you, follow this simple strategy – whenever you find a book you know you can’t sell (i.e. one with water damage, torn pages etc.) stick the store receipt into the book like a bookmark. Then toss the book into a second cardboard box marked “Return.”

Once you’re done scanning all your books through Bookscouter, you can then take the box and return all the books back to the thrift stores and exchange them for trade credit.

This will go a long way in reducing your overhead costs (since you’re basically reusing your money to buy better books), which will help you keep more of your profit!

Step 3: Exchange Books at Used Bookstores for Trade Credit

If you find you can’t sell your books on Amazon or through buyback companies you find on Bookscouter – and if the stores you bought them from don’t offer a return policy – you can still profit from them.

Just load those books into a third box labeled “Trade.” Then, take them to all the used bookstores that offer a trade credit program. (You may have to do an online search for used bookstores and call them up to confirm they exchange books for trade credit).

One nice thing about this strategy is that a lot of the books you buy to sell to buyback companies tend to be very popular (bestselling fiction, recent textbooks, popular nonfiction etc.) so used bookstores should be interested in a lot of them.

Some used bookstores may even offer you a cash deal for your books – but I tend to favor exchanging them for trade credit since you get more this way.

And while selling your books for trade credit isn’t the same as selling them for cash, you can still profit from this method by buying profitable books from used bookstores with your trade credit and then re-selling those books through Bookscouter.

Step 4: Donate Books to the Library or Thrift Store for a Tax Deduction

If all else fails, you can donate the books to the library bookstore or thrift store you bought them from and receive a tax write-off.

While this isn’t the same as getting money for your books, it can save you a few dollars when tax season comes around – and more importantly, it helps reduce the clutter created by your excess book inventory.

Be sure to ask the store for a receipt that you can file away for your taxes (many thrift stores have a pre-made form that you can fill out on your own later).

Hope this helps you profit more from your books when you sell them online! As always, if you have any more questions, feel free to contact me at

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