Selling Free Books On Amazon

I’ve written before about how to get the most out of your student loans and I even shared a strategy on renting real estate to college students for maximum profit.   Those were some of the things that I’ve actually done or experienced when in University that made money.  Of course, they cost money as well.

It Doesn’t Take Money To Make Money

I’m about to share with you one of the easiest ways that I was able to make some extra cash during college and the best part about this idea is that it didn’t cost a penny!

At the end of each semester, a book company would come to the university book store and buy back the text books that were used for various classes that semester.

This company would offer a very low amount for buying back books, and students would sell them because they “were never going to use them again”.   The company would then wholesale these books to various university books stores and make a profit.

No, my strategy wasn’t just to sell my books on Amazon instead of back to the book wholesaler…even though it would have yielded a better price.

They Didn’t Buy Back All The Books

Because the wholesaler was only looking for certain books and would only buy a certain number of each book, if you didn’t sell your copy of the text book on the first day, you often couldn’t sell it back.

This is where the money making begins, so if you are skimming the article, start reading here:

College students being what they are, most didn’t want  their books  after they were required to read them for their class.  Even if they could not sell them back to the wholesaler, they would often leave them at the wholesaler’s booth where they would be offered for free to anyone who wanted them.

This is where I came in and snapped up as many books as I could for free.  Just because these books were not being purchased by the wholesaler, doesn’t mean that some universities are not still requiring them for classes.

I would grab as many books as I could carry and often visit the booth several times per day.  After I did this for a couple of semesters, I got very good at realizing which books were worth more money just by looking at them.

Science books tended to fetch more cash on Amazon than other subjects.  Computer and other IT books were almost worthless as the prevailing knowledge changed too fast and new texts and revised versions seemed to be required nearly every semester.

My Amazon Alliance

I then signed up for an Amazon seller’s account and listed all of the books that I had picked up.

I always tried to list my books for a penny or two less than all of the others in similar condition.  Since my target audience was college students, I realized that they would likely be swayed by price more than anything else.  It worked.

I sold many books on Amazon through my final few semesters at University and I made an average of $500 profit per semester.  My only expenses were the Amazon commissions and the postage and packaging for the books.

I also learned that media and books require less postage than regular packages.  The cost of postage was really cutting into my profits until I learned of this exception.  Make sure you indicate that you are shipping media or books when doing so.

I also found that packaging the items could become expensive, so I set out to find a way to cut these costs as well.

The Library

It seemed quite obvious that the place to go to learn how to save money packaging and shipping books should be the University library, so I enlisted their help.

After I had explained what I was doing and asked how I could cut some costs on shipping, the library staff gave me a few tips.

First, they offered to give me used boxes and bubble wrap if I came once a week to pick it up.  This was free and the library was on my way home, so I took advantage of this.  They also showed me how they shipped smaller books using corregated cardboard which they wrapped the books in using a press.  This was the Caddilac of book packaging and I asked how much it would cost to have them package a few books for me like that.

Luckily they offered for me to bring my books by and they would wrap them when they did their nightly packaging and shipping.  This sounded great, but they quickly went back on the offer when they realized I was shipping about 15-30 books a week for 2-3 weeks around the semester breaks.

If I were to do it again, I would have offered to wrap all of their books in exchange for free packaging for my books once per week.

So there you have it.  One of the ways I made money out of nothing but an idea while attending University.  I hope this has helped you to look for opportunities, how ever small they may be, and cash in on them.  Every little bit does help!


  1. Red,
    Thanks for the comment.
    The idea did take some time to develop, but after the second semester it became a well oiled machine.
    I really do hope that someone out there can benefit from this idea because it is really simple and it does work.

  2. This would not have worked in my university, because there were two competing bookstores. One student though created a website to buy and sell college books online for a commision and I think he did very well.

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