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How I made $100 Selling Books

Textbooks are expensive. Even buying books second-hand at used bookstores or online at Amazon, Thriftbooks, or Abebooks, I often still end up paying upwards of $50 for one book.

On occasion, I have a semester where I feel I got away without such a terrible charge on my back. Where all of my books cost less than $10 and I found most (if not all) of them on Thriftbooks, earning me more points that could go towards free books in the future! Score!

This semester was not one of those semesters.

In fact, this semester was a bit of a disaster.

Because I like to order most of my books from online thrift stores, I plan ahead. Thriftbooks is one of my favorite sites anywhere. I love their prices (often below $5!), they offer free shipping for any order over $10 (where most sites offer it for $50+) and they give you points for every dollar spent that go towards earning you free books!

The only problem with sites like Thriftbooks is the shipping can take some time (I have had books take as long as a month to get to me).

So to plan for this, I order my school books ASAP. At first, I checked the site where lists of school books would appear a little too early. Most of my class' books hadn't been released. But a month or so before class, lists began to release and I began to order my books...

The only problem...I ordered the wrong books. Some flaws in the system caused the wrong books to be listed. I bought two Daniel commentaries I wouldn't need, didn't buy books I'd need for a class that didn't list any, and was missing Daniel commentaries for one of my courses.

Now, starting into the third week of my Daniel course, I have only just caught up with the material and spent nearly $100 on two books I needed for my two courses. Both were second-hand books.

Of course, now I had a Daniel commentary and other books on my hand that I didn't need and money I had spent that I wanted to make back. There was only one thing to do: sell some books. I just had to find a way to do it which would make me some good money back.

That's when I found Ziffit.

Ziffit is a site that gives you money for your used books. Online, you can plug in the barcode numbers (the ISBNs) of your books and see whether or not they will accept them. This is a somewhat faulty way to do it. The barcode numbers (or ISBNs) seem to not always come up as the correct books and you wouldn't want to ship them the wrong book and have them not give you your money because of it.

Instead, I downloaded the app.

In the app, you can scan the barcode of any book and the app will tell you exactly how much Ziffit will give you for the book. It doesn't ask you what condition the book is in (though I assume if the book is dead they won't pay you in the end). It simply reports a number and adds it to your basket.

To be clear, if you don't like the amount they offer you, you do need to go into your "basket" and remove the book yourself. Any book that Ziffit will accept for any price is automatically added to your basket, no matter what. Even if you accidentally scan a book twice, it will add it in there two times presuming Ziffit is willing to accept two copies.

So what kinds of prices do they offer?

A huge variation.

There are plenty of books that Ziffit can't accept because there isn't enough desire for the book or there are too many copies of the book already in circulation. The books that they can accept range in price dramatically but the ones that will get you the bigger bucks tend to be the textbooks (no surprise there!).

Some of the numbers I saw:

  • $0.08 - I refused to sell any book for 8 cents. That is below me. Every single book is worth more than 8 cents to me and I would never sell a book for just 8 cents. Still, this was a price that was common to see when I was scanning books to find ones I could sell.

  • $0.40-70 - There are a number of books that are offered a price within this range. Usually, these are the paperback novels that they will accept but may already have some copies of. I wouldn't sell many books within this range but I have come to see that a few books on my shelf weren't likely to be read anytime soon so I got rid of these for a small price. Some of the titles I sold in this range include The Candymakers and the Great Chocolate Case, Why College Matters to God, and These Foolish Things.

  • $1-$2 - I sold most of my books on this list for between 1 and 2 dollars. Many of these were school books but not ones that would generally be listed as "textbooks." As a Biblical Ministries student, I have many school books that at between 150-300 pages and are more like religious self-help books than "textbooks." These sold in this range and included titles like Ministry Is: How to Serve Jesus with Passion and Confidence, Supervising and Supporting Ministry Staff, and The Story of Scripture. Some novels and other self-help books also sold in this range as well as one or two "textbooks".

  • $3-$8 - I wouldn't call these the "big ticket" items but these books sold for more than the others for sure. These ranged from school books to novels, to textbooks. Since making the sale, I have made a trip to the local library bookstore where I found a few books I could buy for $2-$3 and re-sell in this range for a profit. The books I have sold in this range include titles such as Daughter of Smoke and Bone, A Theology for Christian Education, and Greek for the Rest of Us.

  • Big Ticket Items - I had 3 of what I would call "big-ticket items." These each sold for over $10. Each was a textbook and I likely paid a lot more for it when I bought it but I wasn't going to use it again. They were as follows: Christian Education: A Guide to the Foundations of Ministry ($11.81), Skills for Effective Counseling: A Faith-Based Integration ($15.01), and Systematic Theology, Second Edition: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine ($21.74).

Overall, I sold 23 items for $104.43.

I would 100% do it again and have, in fact already started the process of doing so. In my first sale, I was ridding myself of many books I no longer wanted to while the price I received was high, it was not as high in comparison to the total number of items I rid myself of. In the future, I would like to see what I can do with the app and want to see if I can make a profit off of some books I might find at the library book sale or book store.

Ziffit itself was incredibly easy to use from the first step of scanning the barcodes to the way the app sent a label to my email to the ease of dropping the package of books into my nearest post office. The hardest part of the process was finding a box for the books (I actually had to turn a larger box into a smaller one for them). Once I had them packaged and dropped them in, Ziffit did all the rest of the work. It took less than a week for the books to arrive at Ziffit and be assessed and less than five days for the payment to arrive in my bank account.

Yes, you read that right...the payment DID arrive in my bank account. It actually worked!

I already have the books I will be using for this semester's work assessed (I CAN sell them) and have a pile of books beginning to add up in my closet which I can send in once I am done with them. Ziffit thanks for your hard work on my behalf. I appreciate you!

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