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How to Flip Books on Amazon

This is a fun way to make a little pocket change while downsizing. Don’t expect much more unless you have more space and time – at least a spare room and a couple of years.

I did this to get rid of extra textbooks from my university days, and for the church where I worked to raise money for the local food pantry. This is a great on-going organizational fundraiser, because the books are donated by the membership.


Open a seller account on Amazon and do what it says. Open an individual account ($1/transaction), not a professional account ($40/month). If and when you get going big-time, you can upgrade.

Enter the ISBN into the “Add Inventory” or “List a new Product” slot.

When your book comes up, click on “Sell Yours.” More than one listing may come up. Click on the first one, even if it’s got the most listings. The rest are duplicate listings generated against the rules to attract other buyers. These will eventually be shut down. Play by the rules.

Some listings are restricted to certain classes of sellers. You may be able to sell these on E-Bay. If your book doesn’t come up, use your Amazon phone app to scan it or enter the title. Nothing? Dump it and move on. Unless you really think it’s worth something and are willing to spend the time and effort necessary to “create a new listing.” Check Etsy & E-Bay for prices.


“Sell Yours” will yield an information page. If the sales rank is 2 million or above, dump it. The sales rank is how many other books are moving faster than this one. 1 million = 1 year. You decide how much space v. how much time you have.

If you have an extra room or shop or barn, great! You can list everything, and just sit on it. Many books have a low rank because of a limited market, yet command high prices. If you have space and patience…

Fill in the Quantity and Condition. Be honest about the Condition – people are really picky. There’s an advanced setting for dust jacket condition, signed by the author, first edition, junk like that. : ) You can also list any marks, blemishes, or highlighting. Look around on Amazon and see how others are doing it.

Set your price. This is really important. Decide on the lowest price for which you would bother and add 35% for expenses. My rock bottom is $8, and I get about $5. Don’t worry about the 99 cent books. Those are high volume sellers that make money from the shipping overages. Also people don’t trust super-low prices.

If the lowest price is above your rock bottom, meet that!

Figure out a way to retrieve the books when you’ve sold them. Nothing worse than making a sale and not being able to find the product!!! Alphabetical by title (not using “A” or “The”) works for me.

You will need: A good, reliable shipping scale, bubble shipping envelopes in medium and large, a tape gun and tape, and a printer.

U-Line in Federal Way, WA, sells 12x9x1 economy bubble envelopes for $.39/each, including shipping, but you have to get 100.  Get 100.  Get an accurate scale and a tape gun and some shipping tape.  I assume you have a printer.  For large books a case of 14x10x1 economy bubble mailers will be less than $50.  Dump larger books, including coffee table, or save them for a rummage or garage sale.

Amazon charges $4.99 for book shipping, period.  Anything below that you get to keep.  Most books weigh less than a pound, so that’s profit.  Anything above $4.99 you have to pay.  Books can ship media mail or bound printed matter, and Amazon will give you a list of options to choose from.

When you’ve made a sale, ship immediately!  Just go to the Orders Management page and follow the links.  Print the packing page and write “Thank You!” on it.  Print the shipping label and affix it to the envelope with the shipping tape.  Next day, take the packages to the Post Office and dump them in the package bin or leave them on the “ready to go” counter.  Or wait for your carrier to pick it up.  No waiting in line!

You won’t see any money for three weeks.  Amazon holds your earnings in case something goes wrong – they sure aren’t going to pay for it!  So be extra careful with your descriptions and shipping times.

Textbooks in good condition are extremely popular, especially at the beginning of terms and semesters.

Rummage sales often have a good amount of leftover books.  Ads to collect these for free are professional flippers: buy low, sell high.  Thrift stores have caught on, so don’t even bother.



This is when you ship your listed books to Amazon and they do the shipping.  The good thing about this is your inventory is unlimited and your listings are eligible for The Box and Prime.  People do this for a living.  But they work hard, all of the time.

The down sides are

  • you have to ship the books to different Amazon locations, determined by Amazon.
  • You will pay storage costs.
  • If they don’t sell within a specified time, you will pay extra storage costs.
  • There are also bi-annual space/service fees.
  • If you get tired of paying storage fees, there are also disposal/donation fees.

There was a blog about a guy who vacationed his way across America in an R.V. by buying and shipping books along the way.  Portland is not a good place to score cheap, popular books.  Thrift stores have caught on, and hardbacks in good condition go for $4.  Also we have Powell’s, and they’re also on Amazon.

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