Selling Books on eBay in 2024: Guide with Actionable Steps

Introduction: Potential of Selling Books on eBay

EBay, one of the world’s largest online marketplaces, has been connecting buyers and sellers since its inception in 1995. With millions of active users and a vast array of products available, eBay has become a go-to platform for individuals looking to buy or sell items from the comfort of their own homes.

In 2024, eBay continues to thrive, offering sellers an opportunity to reach a global audience and generate income by selling their products, including books. For book resellers and entrepreneurs alike, selling books on eBay, in addition to Amazon, can be a lucrative venture, as the marketplace attracts bibliophiles searching for rare finds, collectible editions, and affordable reads. However, to succeed in this competitive environment, it is essential to have a well-structured approach and a thorough understanding of the best practices for selling books on eBay.

Hello, fellow resellers and wantrepreneurs! This is Omer Muhit aka bookupcycle, I have sold over $10M worth of books online in 2023. In this guide, I aim to provide you with actionable steps to help you navigate the process of selling books on eBay in 2024, from selecting the right books to sell to managing your business effectively.

Selecting the Right Books to Sell on eBay

When choosing books to sell on eBay, it’s crucial to consider both the demand for the item and its potential for profitability. Listing books that have little to no demand could result in a stagnant inventory that may never sell, tying up your capital and resources. Similarly, selling books at a loss is not a sustainable business strategy. 

selling used books on ebay

To maximize your success on eBay, it’s essential to research and select books that have a proven track record of selling well and can be priced competitively while still generating a profit for your business.

Searching Your Item on eBay

To begin your search on eBay, enter the title, author name, or other identifiers such as ISBN, UPC, or ASIN into the search bar. These identifiers can typically be found either on the back of the book underneath the barcode or on the copyright page. If you have a special edition, such as a first printing, first edition, book club edition, signed by the author, or a 25th-year anniversary edition, be sure to include the relevant keywords in your search query. These attributes may significantly increase the value of the book you intend to sell.

After entering the relevant query into the search bar, hit enter and review the results. Compare the existing listings to find an exact match for the book you have. You can narrow your search by carefully examining the titles of similar books in the search results. This will help you determine the demand and potential value of your book on the eBay market.

Check Profit

To calculate your profit, start with the sold price of the item and subtract the eBay fees associated with the sale. From this amount, deduct your fulfillment costs, which include expenses such as packaging, shipping, and handling. Finally, subtract the initial cost of purchasing the inventory. The remaining amount represents your profit from the sale.

Check Demand: Sold Items on Ebay

After you realize that the competitive price has a satisfying price point you are willing to accept, you can then check the previous sales by applying the “sold items” filter next to the search bar. 

ebay sold items filter

As you can see in this screenshot, I have applied the sold items filter to see sold items on ebay. It now shows the dates the items were sold, the titles of the sold items, and the prices at which they were sold. You should make your calculations based on the landing price (item price + shipping).

Identifying Valuable Book Characteristics

There are various attributes that can add more value to the books on eBay. These attributes can make your offer an outlier in terms of price. However, you can still sell your book on ebay at a higher price point. 

Tools and Tips to Evaluate the Price of the Book

- Check Author Signature

Author signatures can have sentimental value to the author’s raving fans. That’s why they can pay substantial amounts of money (see the following screenshot) just because the book has an author signature on it. The signatures usually can be found in the first few pages of the book. If you see a signature on a book, you can google the author’s name and signature to verify the authenticity of the signature. (i.e., Stephen King Signature)


- Check the Copyright and Title Pages

Copyright and title pages contain important information about the book. If you think that a book can potentially be valuable, I highly suggest you check these pages. Remember, you are looking for something special here on these pages. It can be the publishing date (older is better), or special editions like first edition, first American edition, limited edition, illustrated edition, etc. See the following screenshots to get familiar with title and copyright pages.

Books with Illustrations (Title Page)

First American Edition (Copyright page)

first edition 2 used books selling on ebay

First Edition (Copyright page)

Once you identify the special attributes of the book, you can add these to your current search query. If you were going to search for the “Stephen King Misery” book, add the special attribute that you have found in your copy, like “Stephen King Misery Signed” or “Stephen King Misery First Edition”.

- Vialibri

Vialibri is one of the largest search engines for old, rare, and second-hand books. The advantage of this platform is that it has an advanced search form that allows you to search with multiple attributes in a single query. Then it shows you the value of the book on eBay and other platforms. Query Form

- Worthpoint

Worthpoint is an invaluable tool for sellers looking to succeed in selling books on eBay in 2024. By providing historical pricing data, market trends, and insights into the value of specific book titles and editions, Worthpoint empowers sellers to make informed decisions about which books to sell and at what price. Leveraging Worthpoint’s extensive database and powerful features, such as “Worthopedia” and “Market Data,” can help book sellers optimize their listings, set competitive prices, and ultimately maximize their profits on eBay.

How to Start Selling on eBay

To start selling books on eBay, you’ll need to create a seller account. Follow these steps to set up your account and configure your seller settings:

1. Creating an eBay Account

  • Go to and click on the “Register” button in the top-left corner of the page.
  • Fill in the required information, including your name, email address, and a strong password.
  • Verify your account by confirming your email address.
  • Once your account is verified, log in to eBay and navigate to the “Account Settings” page.

2. Configuring Your Seller Settings

  • In the “Account Settings” page, click on the “Seller Account” tab.
  • Choose your preferred payment method, such as PayPal or eBay Managed Payments, and provide the necessary information to link your account.
  • Set up your shipping preferences, including your default shipping location, handling time, and available shipping services.
  • Customize your return policy, specifying the return window, who pays for return shipping, and any restocking fees.
  • Add your contact information and a brief description of your business to help buyers get to know you as a seller.

3. Verifying Your Identity

  • To comply with eBay’s security measures and establish trust with potential buyers, you may need to verify your identity.
  • Provide the requested information, such as your name, address, and phone number.
  • In some cases, eBay may require additional documentation, like a government-issued ID or proof of address.

By following these steps and properly configuring your eBay seller account, you’ll be well-prepared to start listing and selling books on the platform. Remember to keep your account information up to date and maintain a positive seller rating by providing excellent customer service and accurately describing your book listings.

Listing Your Books on eBay

Once you’ve selected the books you want to sell and have properly evaluated their condition, it’s time to create listings that will attract potential buyers. Crafting compelling book listings is essential to your success as a seller on eBay.

In this section, we’ll cover the key elements of effective book listings, including writing descriptive titles, providing detailed condition information, and pricing your books competitively. By following these guidelines, you’ll increase the visibility of your listings and maximize your chances of making successful sales.

Evaluate the Condition Properly

When selling books on eBay, it’s crucial to accurately evaluate and describe the condition of your books. The condition can significantly impact the value and desirability of a book to potential buyers.

For example, a book with a dust jacket in pristine condition can command a higher price compared to the same book without a dust jacket or with a damaged one. On the other hand, books in worse condition, such as those with torn pages, water damage, or heavy wear, will typically sell for less.

Write Clear Condition Notes

Be honest and thorough in your condition descriptions, noting any flaws, missing pages, or other imperfections. Writing a clear condition note would increase the chance of making the sale, reduce the chance of receiving a return, and increase the likelihood of getting positive feedback, as you are being transparent with the buyer.

Use Decent Photos

Use clear, well-lit photos to showcase the book’s condition, including any damage or defects. By providing accurate condition information, you’ll help buyers make informed decisions and avoid potential disputes or returns down the line.

When listing your books on eBay, include high-quality photos that accurately represent the item’s condition and content. A well-chosen main photo can significantly increase the click-through rate, so make sure it’s eye-catching, well-composed, and clearly represents the book. Include images of the front and back cover, binding, copyright and title pages, and a few representative interior pages. If the book has any defects, such as worn corners, creased pages, or markings, include clear photos of these issues to be transparent about the book’s condition and build trust with potential buyers.

Pricing Your Books

Pricing can have many angles, and it would depend on your preferences as a seller. However, I suggest pricing your items competitively to get a return on your investment sooner, allowing you to reinvest and grow your business faster. Make your pricing determination based on the demand for your specific book. If there is very low demand, you may want to sell at a lower price to attract buyers. However, if there is adequate demand, you don’t necessarily need to be the cheapest option available.

Best Offer Feature on eBay

If you’re hesitant to commit to a fixed low price, you can take advantage of eBay’s “Best Offer” feature. By enabling this option, you allow buyers to submit offers for your book, which you can then choose to accept, decline, or counter.

This strategy gives you flexibility in your pricing while still encouraging buyers to make offers. Keep in mind that you can always reject lowball offers that don’t meet your minimum acceptable price. Utilizing the “Best Offer” feature for low-demand books can help you find a balance between attracting buyers and maintaining a fair selling price.

eBay Auction or Buy it Now

When listing your books on eBay, you have two main selling formats to choose from: Auction and Buy It Now.

  • Auction: With the Auction format, you set a starting price and allow buyers to bid on your book for a specified duration (usually 3, 5, 7, or 10 days). The highest bidder at the end of the auction wins the item. This format can be exciting and may lead to a higher selling price if multiple buyers compete for your book.
  • Buy It Now: The Buy It Now format allows you to set a fixed price for your book, and buyers can purchase it immediately at that price. This format is ideal if you have a specific price in mind and want to ensure a quick sale. It’s also convenient for buyers who don’t want to wait for an auction to end.

Consider factors such as the book’s rarity, demand, and your desired selling speed when deciding between Auction and Buy It Now. You can also combine both formats by setting a Buy It Now price alongside an Auction, giving buyers the option to purchase the book immediately or place a bid.

Selling Books as Lots on eBay

Selling books as lots on eBay can be a profitable strategy, especially for items that may not be valuable enough to sell individually. By grouping relevant books together, you can reduce shipping costs, attract buyers interested in purchasing multiple related titles, and simplify the listing process.

When creating book lots, consider factors like author, genre, series, or theme, and clearly describe the contents of the lot in your listing. However, keep in mind that selling rare or high-value books individually may be more effective, as they are likely to attract buyers willing to pay a premium. Assess your books and target audience to determine the best approach for your eBay business.

Seller Performance Levels

eBay classifies sellers into three distinct performance levels based on their metrics and adherence to the platform’s selling standards:

1. Top Rated Seller

  • Highest level of performance
  • Consistently provides exceptional customer service and maintains excellent seller metrics
  • Enjoys benefits such as increased visibility, discounted final value fees, and a prominent Top Rated Seller badge

2. Above Standard

  • Meets eBay’s minimum performance requirements
  • Provides satisfactory customer service and maintains acceptable seller metrics
  • Not eligible for Top Rated Seller benefits but remains in good standing on the platform

3. Below Standard

  • Falls short of eBay’s minimum performance requirements
  • Exhibits subpar customer service or has a high rate of defects, disputes, or negative feedback
  • May face consequences such as reduced visibility, higher final value fees (6% additional fees)
  • Can not create promotions

eBay regularly evaluates seller performance and updates seller levels based on the previous 12 months (90 days if your volume is high enough) of activity. To maintain a favorable seller level, it’s crucial to consistently meet eBay’s performance standards, provide excellent customer service, and promptly address any issues or concerns raised by buyers.

Monitoring Your Metrics

eBay evaluates seller performance on a monthly basis, with the evaluation taking place on the 20th of each month. This regular assessment ensures that sellers are consistently meeting eBay’s performance standards and providing a satisfactory experience for buyers.

On the 20th of every month, eBay calculates your seller performance metrics based on your selling activity over the previous 12 months (3 months if your volume is high enough). This evaluation takes into account factors such as:

1. Defect rate:

ebay defects rate

The percentage of transactions with one or more defects, such as item not as described, late delivery, or negative feedback.

2. Late shipment rate:

ebay late shipment rate

The percentage of transactions where you did not ship the item within your stated handling time.

3. Cases closed without seller resolution:

The number of eBay Money Back Guarantee or PayPal Purchase Protection cases closed without a satisfactory resolution for the buyer.

4. Tracking uploads and delivery scans:

ebay tracking upload and delivery scans

The percentage of transactions where you uploaded tracking information and confirmed delivery for the item.

5. Feedback score:

Your overall feedback rating is based on positive, neutral, and negative feedback left by buyers.

Based on these metrics, eBay will determine your seller performance level (Top Rated, Above Standard, or Below Standard) and update your account accordingly. If your performance meets the criteria for Top Rated Seller status, you’ll be awarded the badge and associated benefits on the 20th of the month.

eBay closely monitors various metrics to determine a seller’s performance level, with each metric having specific thresholds that correspond to different performance tiers. For instance, if your transaction defect rate exceeds 2% of all transactions, you will be classified as a Below Standard seller. If your defect rate falls between 0.5% and 2%, you will be considered an Above Standard seller. To achieve Top Rated status, your defect rate must be below 0.5%.

It’s crucial to understand that even if most of your metrics meet the criteria for Top Rated status, having just one metric that falls into the Below Standard category (such as a 3% defect rate) will result in your overall seller performance level being downgraded to Below Standard. This emphasizes the importance of diligently monitoring all of your eBay metrics and promptly addressing any issues that arise.

To maintain a high seller performance level and protect your reputation on the platform, regularly review your metrics and take proactive steps to resolve any problems. This may involve improving your item descriptions, shipping practices, or customer service to minimize defects, late shipments, and negative feedback. By consistently meeting eBay’s performance standards across all metrics, you can ensure the long-term success and growth of your book selling business on the platform.

Fees for Selling Books on eBay

When selling books on eBay, it’s crucial to understand the various fees associated with the platform, including the percentage commission charged by eBay. These fees can impact your profits and should be carefully considered when making business decisions. eBay charges several types of fees, which can vary based on factors such as the selling format, product category, and your seller performance level. Here’s a breakdown of the main fees you’ll encounter, with a focus on the percentage commission:

1. Final Value Fees (Percentage Commission)

  • Charged when your book sells on eBay
  • Calculated as a percentage of the total amount paid by the buyer, including shipping and handling. eBay charges a 14.95% commission of the total price plus a $0.30 fixed fee (if the order value is less than $10) or $0.40 (if the order value is more than $10).
  • The percentage can vary based on the product category and your seller performance level. eBay charges an additional 6% commission for below standard performance level sellers as a consequence of their poor performance. eBay also offers a 10% discount for top-rated performance level sellers to reward their excellent metrics and performance.

2. Insertion Fees

  • Charged when you create a listing on eBay, regardless of whether the item sells
  • eBay typically offers a certain number of free listings per month, depending on your seller status
  • eBay Store subscribers get a monthly allocation of zero insertion fee listings, with the number depending on the Store package (e.g., 250 for Starter, 1,000 for Basic).
  • After using the zero insertion fee allocation, eBay Store subscribers pay an insertion fee per listing, ranging from $0.05 to $0.30, depending on the Store subscription level.
  • Sellers without an eBay Store are charged insertion fees per listing, which vary based on the listing format and category.

3. Shipping Fees

  • If you offer free shipping, you’ll need to factor in the cost of shipping materials and postage
  • If you charge buyers for shipping, eBay may take a small percentage of the shipping fee as part of the Final Value Fee

To maximize your profits when selling books on eBay, it’s essential to factor in the percentage commission and other fees when pricing your items. Consider strategies such as maintaining Top Rated Seller status to qualify for discounted Final Value Fees, which can help reduce the overall percentage commission you pay to eBay.

By understanding eBay’s fee structure, particularly the percentage commission charged through Final Value Fees, you can make informed decisions and implement strategies to manage your costs effectively and improve your bottom line when selling books on the platform.

Creating Promotions with Volume Discounts

Creating promotions with volume discounts attracts buyers to buy more books from your eBay store. You encourage them to buy more books by offering sliding scale discounts for higher quantities. For example, buy 2 get 10% off, buy 3 get 15% off, buy 4 get 20% off. Do eBay sellers lose profit by offering these discounts? Well, it depends on their ASP (Average Sold Price). If their ASP is low, around $10, they may even make more profit by offering this promotion.


Let’s do quick math on two hypothetical orders.

Scenario 1: You sell two books at $10 each to two different people.

Total Revenue: $20
Total Final Value Fees: $3.79 (14.95% + $0.40 for each order)
Total Shipping Cost: $8.26 ($4.13 USPS Media Mail for both orders)
Payout After Fees: $20 – $3.79 – $8.26 = $7.95

Scenario 2: You sell two books with 10% discount at $9 each to the same person.

Total Revenue: $18
Total Final Value Fees: $3.09 (14.95% + $0.40 for one order)
Total Shipping Cost: $4.87 (USPS Media Mail that are shipped in the same box)
Payout After Fees: $18 – $3.09 – $4.87 = $10.04

In this example, the eBay seller actually makes more profit in Scenario 2, even though they offer a 10% discount. By selling both books to the same person, they save on shipping costs. The savings on shipping and fees more than compensate for the discount offered, resulting in a higher payout after fees.

This demonstrates how offering volume discounts can be beneficial for eBay sellers, especially when their Average Sold Price (ASP) is relatively low. By encouraging buyers to purchase multiple items, sellers can reduce their shipping and fee expenses, potentially leading to higher profits even with the discounts applied.

Promoted Listings: Paid Advertising

EBay’s search algorithm is different from Amazon’s. On Amazon, there is usually one listing for each book, and each seller’s offer is on the same listing. On Amazon, visibility is not as big of a deal. You just need to price your item competitively.

However, on eBay, every seller has their own listing, even if they are selling the same item. For this reason, paid advertising on eBay can boost your visibility and, consequently, your sales. However, eBay’s advertising is a little different from the regular Pay Per Click structure. On eBay, there is an option where you only pay for the advertising if you make the sale. If someone clicks on your promoted listing but doesn’t buy, you don’t pay anything. If someone buys from the promoted listings, then you pay.
As you can see in the below screenshot, I have sold 1,284 books via promoted listings and I have paid around $1,000 for it.

promoted listings on ebay

The good thing is that you can determine the maximum percentage that you are willing to pay. I have determined and set the ad rate cap at 9.5% for this price tier (less than $10) in this example. This method ensures that I do not lose money because, at the worst ad rate, I am not losing any money and am still making a profit.

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In conclusion, selling books on eBay in 2024 presents a fantastic opportunity for entrepreneurs and book enthusiasts to turn their passion into a profitable business. By following the actionable steps outlined in this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate the competitive world of online book selling. From sourcing the right inventory to optimizing your listings and managing your business efficiently, the key to success lies in adopting a strategic approach and staying informed about the latest trends and best practices in the industry. With dedication, hard work, and a commitment to providing excellent customer service, you can build a thriving book selling business on eBay and connect with a global community of readers eager to discover their next favorite book.