Business Idea: Start a Book Exchange


Business Idea:

Start a Book Exchange – Earning money buying and selling books

Set up a website, or even use craigslist to buy used textbooks and list them for sale on Amazon/Ebay. 

This is an idea that I actually executed (the picture below is actually a low qualify version of my very own) while I was an undergraduate in college. Standing in the bookstore line and getting (and seeing other people getting) rejected in “book buybacks” got me thinking: why not sell these online, and sell theres too! 

This is exactly what I set out to do, after setting up an Amazon account and selling my books online (for roughly 20% more than what the bookstore even offered) I started searching on craigslist and found scores of individuals who were trying to sell there books on there. The best part? Many (maybe as much as 30%) were selling for well BELOW Amazon’s price.  Reaching out to these students who often desperately wanted to get rid of their books I started turning a profit almost immediately.

The typical example would be something like this:
Amazon price – $98.99
Craigslist price – $70
My offer – $65
Sold on Amazon – $97.99
Amazon commission ~ $10.00
Shipping credit from Amazon ~ $3.99
Profit – $25.99

Now each transaction took roughly an  hour. This included looking up, listing, and shipping. After a short time I started getting repeat customers who were willing to email me the books they were interested in selling. I even got to a point where I set up a website for people to make their submissions. This is already a proven profitable venture great for something on the side. You can easily make an extra $1,000 a month, and even more if you start this full-time or get creative with it.

I made $4299.65 in revenue in less than my first 2 months. I would estimate that roughly $1500 was profit. 

Comments? Questions? Let me know!  

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2 thoughts on “Business Idea: Start a Book Exchange

  1. Reply Andrew Sep 28,2012 %I:%M %p

    Wow, I like this. I imagine that this is a business that would only see net profit around the beginning of the term, though, right?

    I imagine buying books directly from the student is more cost-effective, but I thought I’d throw my own twist in: international texts. Publishing companies charge American students far more for textbooks than they do in other countries, even when the content is exactly the same. I forget, do you spell this situation A-R-B-I-T-R-A-G-E, or $$$?

    I bought my textbooks like this. They were brand-new and almost always exactly the same. There was one exception where the page numbers were off, just to annoy me. Often, these texts’ prices were competitive with used textbooks!

  2. Daniel McKay Reply Daniel McKay Sep 28,2012 %I:%M %p

    You’re right, I should have mentioned that I saw huge upswings during the beginning of school terms. I still sold a few during the year and stocked up during the summer. So there are some hills and valleys but overall it is pretty profitable!

    I looked into the international textbook rules, the problem is that yes, they are cheap – but they are not allowed to be sold on Amazon (as per their terms). Some people do, but you risk the prospect of being restricted.

    Other sites such as Ebay, Borders, B&N, and abebooks I believe didn’t have this restriction.

    (margin on int. books by themselves are very high!)

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