If you’re anything like me, you love to browse and purchase books that you plan to use in your homeschool. If you’ve been educating your children at home for a while, you probably have bookshelves full of great (and not-so-great) used books.
Now is a great time to clear the shelves to make room for the spring conference season and to make some extra money. One year I got a late start selling (mid-March) but I cleared almost
$400 $800 by the end of May by using a few different platforms.
In this post, I’ll tell you where I’ve had the best luck selling our used homeschool books. In no particular order:
1. Facebook Groups
Chances are, you’re on facebook and you can find a local homeschool sale and swap group. The benefits are that you can save yourself the cost and time of shipping. The other benefit is that most groups like this require pre-approval so the likelihood of being scammed are slim.
Be careful, though, social media can be a time suck. Notifications can be a distraction, not to mention getting drawn into your news feed.
Getting organized and batch processing can streamline the posting on any platform. (Pull the books you want to sell, take photos of all of them and post all at once). Posting photos is so easy now with apps.
Although I always recommend the best photos, I think people just want an idea of what they’re buying and they can communicate on the platform about the condition of the item and details to arrange a sale. No fees-yippee-and typically cash transactions.
I’ve had an Amazon sellers account for a few years and the rules to start an account might be different now if you’re new to selling on the platform. (I think you have to be approved to sell categories of merchandise other than books).
You simply can’t beat the exposure of Amazon, especially if your prices are reasonable.
It’s easy to list a book with all the publisher’s information and Amazon reviews by searching for the title or entering the ISBN number on your seller dashboard. You can upload your own photo of the book but I wouldn’t recommend it since Amazon will list it with the stock photo and publisher’s specs and description. You can set your own price (though I recommend using their guideline for the book’s condition).
Amazon will tell you how much to expect from a sale based on your price, cost of shipping (I recommend “media mail”) and their fees.
You must confirm shipment before your account is credited and they only disburse payments twice a month.
If you have a lot of high quality items that are fairly popular and you get comfortable with the platform, you might consider the “FBA” or “Fulfilled by Amazon” option. Two benefits of this program are that you don’t have to ship items yourself and buyers don’t have to pay for shipping since these they qualify for Amazon prime benefits. There are fees associated with this and you’ll have to label and ship your books to a fulfillment center according to guidelines. There’s a little more to learn about this option but it might be worth it.
Research tip: You can find out how well your title sells on Amazon generally by entering it into the search bar on the site and scrolling down to the “Best sellers rank” at the bottom. The lower the number, the better it sells. Anything under 50,000 should sell if you price it right. Lower than that, it should sell faster.
3. Yahoo groups
I’ve had luck selling my Catholic resources on the Cathswap yahoo group. I can’t even remember how I found it. Each group will likely have its own rules and you might have to request to join and purchase or post to prove you’re not a troll. This provides a measure of protection for sellers and buyers.
Go to yahoo groups and do a search. Maybe you have lots of classical or Charlotte Mason style books and can find a group limited to that topic.
4. Local homeschool conferences/curriculum sales
I’ve participated in a few of these and have usually made around $100 for a few boxes of books. Some sales are more organized than others and the format varies.
Some groups keep a flat percentage of the sale but you can set your own prices and don’t necessarily have to be present for the whole day. In this situation, be prepared to follow the guidelines for identifying and pricing your items so you can be properly credited and they can return your unsold books.
Other types of sales will charge a flat rate for space but you have to sell your own stuff. This requires less up-front time but you have to spend some time at the sale and have your own change/seed money. I would still take the time to price your items. People aren’t usually comfortable haggling or offering.
Half.com used to be ebay’s used book/media division. I don’t know if they are separate now or if things listed on one site automatically show up on the other site.
I’ve sold a few books and other homeschool related items over the years on ebay/half. The books that tend to do well are classic or out-of-print books. For example, “Five in a Row” books sell pretty well on ebay. Other, more expensive curricula, like “The Institute for Excellence in Teaching” resources “Phonetic Zoo” and “Writing Structure and Style” by Andrew Peduwa sell great.
Research tip: You can get a feel for when and how much titles sell for on ebay by entering the title in the ebay search bar and ticking “sold” on the left hand side bar. You can even click on the sold listings to see how people described their items, what edition it was and the condition. This trick will give you an idea of whether to bother listing your item, how to describe it to sell and how much to expect.
You’ll have the option whether to offer free shipping or let the buyer pay for shipping. I wouldn’t offer free shipping unless you’re getting a decent amount for the book. Use Amazon to figure out the weight and dimensions of your title and play around with an online shipping cost calculator to get an idea of how much it will cost to send your book to different zones.
Bonus: Organize your own curriculum sale
Get a few friends together and advertise a sale on Craigslist or a local homeschool facebook group. I’ve never tried this but it might be as entertaining as it is lucrative.
If you have the time and muscle to physically move your unwanted inventory, this might be a great option.
I would recommend having the sale at a public place or advertising a multi-family sale. I held a sale last spring that was specifically for homeschool books. It was well-organized (by subject). I had plenty of space. My books were priced to sell. It was a perfect day. People were asking about it on local facebook groups and hardly anyone showed. I ended up giving away dozens of books to friends who showed up because I just didn’t want to handle them again.
Finally, I’ve never had luck with craigslist. I just don’t think homeschoolers are looking there or it isn’t designed well for specific searches (of homeschool titles).
In the next post, I’ll give you some general tips about pricing and shipping your books.
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