Saving money is one thing, making it is the other side of the same coin. Here is my top tip for making a little money from home, and maybe saving some too. It is something I have tried myself, as a young mum struggling to make ends meet, and found it worked. My friends have made money this way too, so pass the advice on to any hard up young graduates you know. It is surprising how few of them realize what an asset they have on their bookshelves. They might not make a million, but it may just keep the wolf from the door, and at the same time be helping out other students who may be struggling financially too.
It may seem obvious advice, but it is surprising how few people take advantage of the superb system Amazon have for selling second-hand books. It really is simplicity itself, and there is none of the time-consuming photographing, description and uploading work to be done, as on ebay. I found that the books that could be sold for the most were academic textbooks. Since I had finished my college courses I had piles of books from my studies just cluttering up the shelves. Some were close to my heart, but others I was quite happy to pass on to another student. Luckily I am not a book scribbler, so they were in good condition. Since academic books can cost $60 or sometimes much more, buying one for a third of that is a great option for hard-up students.
Making an account
Setting up a seller account is simple, as it is just tagged onto your buyers account. The interface is really clear too. Simply search for the book you want to sell, click on the ‘Sell one like this’ link, and follow the simple instructions from there. You are asked to describe the condition of the book, and I suggest you be honest here to avoid complaint. Students don’t seem to mind ‘some pencil marks’ or ‘in reasonable used condition’. You decide on the price, so assess how much others are selling for, how widely used the text book may be, and set your price at a level that is right for you. I needed money quickly, so tended to simply undercut everyone else, gaining the ‘Low Price’ label for my book, which gives a psychological advantage for those wanting a quick sale.
One thing I particularly liked about the Amazon book selling option is the fact that they contribute towards the postage of the item, which can be a big proportion of the price you get otherwise. The rate is not at all bad either, although it is different in each country, obviously. One pitfall is when you have very heavy book, so just be careful not to advertise a book which will cost you $8 to post, if you only get $4 for postage, unless the price is sufficiently high for it not to matter. If it’s a slim paperback you can actually make money on the postage!
Fiction - a penny a piece
Fiction books are not really worth selling on Amazon, as there is virtually no money to be made. Commercial sellers will advertise the book for one cent to get the sale and make money on the postage, and probably post out in bulk with a business rate. It is seldom worth selling your ordinary fiction books, which will actually fetch a better price (if any) on Ebay. If you go down this route it is best to fix a price for a book rather that put it onto an Ebay auction. Ebay favours more unusual and niche books, although you can sell these on Amazon too by taking and submitting a picture. Collectors will hunt it out either way, and I managed to sell a rare wartime Denis Wheatley book this way to a collector, for around $50. I have no idea it was worth a cent, but took some advice, on a hunch, and worked out a guide price.
Payments from Amazon have always been quick, and they take a comparatively small amount of the sale price in my experience. Once you have listed your title it is like fishing. You just wait. I used to package up my books in advance if I knew they would sell, to save time when the email arrived telling me to post out. It’s great to post within two days if at all possible, so that you get a good rating from your buyer.
Easier than it sounds
And that is all there is to it. It’s simple and effective, and you will not only be recycling, but helping out poorer students too, whilst helping yourself – because everyone needs a helping hand from time to time. I passed this tip on to a friend recently, who rang me to say he had earned over $600 in two months just selling his old university college books, which is why I thought I would write about it here. He was thrilled, and it helped him out of a financial hole. So why not pass the tip on to your kids and their friends, and start checking out your bookshelves today.
Izzy Woods is a freelance writer and self confessed bookworm. She writes for online publications including a 0 credit cards specialist, but can otherwise be found knee-deep in a meaty hardback.