How to use Amazon to Buy and Sell Books on the Cheap

I grew up reading books all the time – I love the feeling when learning something new. For the past few years I’ve been in college, and have done the majority of my book shopping on Amazon. Whether it’s a textbook, or a book on business, Amazon is a great way to find any book on earth.

I’ve also been broke – and buying $15-25 books all the time can eat into my budget very quickly. I want new books, but don’t want to wait months for the library to get it. There’s an alternative, and it’s based on these assumptions:

  • After reading the book, I don’t want to keep it (books take up a lot of room)
  • I need to recoup most of my investment (to purchase more books)

Why Amazon?

I’m going to use an example on how I save a ton of cash when purchasing books on Amazon. In short, you can purchase new books, read them, and turn around and sell them for a small loss (typically a few dollars). There’s a few advantages to selling specifically on Amazon (as opposed to Ebay, or another book seller). These advantages are:

  1. Amazon is extremely popular
  2. If you search for a book, it will display all individuals selling them new/used, and display the lowest price.
  3. It’s simple to setup an Amazon “Seller” account (this is how you recoup your money!)

The Process

Here’s an example – I purchased Practical Oriented Design in Ruby a couple months ago for $33.83. I typically don’t purchase programming books unless I know the subject material won’t change in the new few months. It’s not a cheap book, but if I turn around and buy another copy, the lowest price would be $24.25. This makes my total cost around $1o dollars.

Obviously this changes as books are bought and sold, but I could lowball the price when selling the book, and offer it for $24 dollars. The key is to sell the book yourself as an Amazon Seller.

The Keys to Selling

Since you are selling a book (and not an unique product), customers are conscious about two things – price and quality.

You can win on price every time, simply beat the lowest listing price by approximately 50 cents. This will display your listing as the cheapest option, giving you a better chance to sell the book! Other sellers display a single listing – this is why Amazon is your best option…it’s all the listings in aggregate.

What about Shipping?

If a customer purchases your book, you will receive an email, and further instructions. With an Amazon Seller account you can purchase shipping directly from Amazon, which is simple. I usually select basic shipping when listing the book – and the cost is passed onto the buyer.

Spend a little extra time, Save cash

At the end of the day, this method is a great way to learn on the cheap. If you don’t have oodles of cash, don’t worry. Spend a little extra time, and sell the book back, and use the recouped $$ to invest in more learning.

P.S. – I’ve found this method works on other products as well, but be smart, and don’t always expect the sale.

Luke Thomas

About Luke Thomas

I'm a Mainer in technology who likes growing internet companies and sharing stories about what I learn along the way. Also reading, soccer, and experimenting.

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