BookScouter Review: How to Earn Money Flipping Books

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You learn a lot when you start college.

How to do your own laundry, how to make new friends, and how to manage your time. You also learn how expensive college is. Not just the cost of tuition, but how expensive the other aspects of college, like textbooks, can be.

Textbooks are a necessary part of college, and they’re a pain to deal with. You have to spend hundreds of dollars when you buy them. When the semester’s over, most students end up selling them back to the university bookstore for a fraction of the price.

But what if there was a way you could sell your textbooks and recoup more money than reselling to the bookstore?

Fortunately, thanks to BookScouter, there is.

What Is BookScouter?

BookScouter is an online platform that compiles buy-back prices from over 30 vendors. This lets students get more money back because they can choose the site that will pay the most.

bookscouter homepage
BookScouter’s comparison tool allows you to compare textbook prices across 30+ different buyback vendors. BookScouter, LLC

How Does BookScouter Work?

You can use the website or app to input or scan your book’s ISBN and receive the list of buy-back prices from vendors including Amazon, Bookbyte, and Powell’s. You select which vendor you’d like to use, accept their offer, and ship the book to them for free using a prepaid shipping label.

When you receive payment depends on the vendor and the payment method. According to the site, most payments are received within one to three days of receiving the book, and PayPal is the fastest way to get your money. You can request a mailed check, but that might take up to seven days to receive.

Selling Used Books

BookScouter makes selling books to vendors straightforward. After you’ve scanned or entered the ISBN, you’ll get a list of offers from roughly 30 vendors to compare and choose from.

bookscouter vendor list

While it’s important to compare the buy-back price, you should also read the reviews from other customers. Even if a vendor offers a high price, they might be terrible to work with or their fees might cut into your profit.

If the prices you’re seeing are too low, or you get a list of vendors all offering $0.00 for the book, you can sell your textbooks somewhere else. Selling your book via BookScouter may be fast, but you might not always get the highest price possible.

Even though BookScouter aggregates prices from 30 vendors, you may find you can get more selling the book on your own on eBay or at a secondhand shop like 2nd and Charles.

Buying Used Books

If you want to increase your earnings with BookScouter, check websites, thrift stores, garage sales, and even your parents’ attic or basement to find more textbooks to sell on the platform.

One way to ensure you’re making the most profit is to use BookScouter to research the ISBN and see the going rate of each book before you purchase it. You can then subtract your purchase price from the offer price to determine your profit. If the margin is high enough, buy the used book and sell it to a BookScouter vendor.

When purchasing used books, be aware of the condition. That can make all the difference between a book that sells for a profit and one that costs you money. Books with an intact cover in good shape and pages that are free from water damage, notes, and highlighter marks command a higher offer price.

Package your items securely and carefully when you send them off. If they arrive in poor or damaged condition, they can revise their buy-back offer, and you’ll receive less money than you expected.

How Much Can You Make Selling Your Books on BookScouter?

I put BookScouter to the test by researching the buy and sell prices for some required reading at my alma mater.

First, I looked up some classes I took as an undergraduate. Next, I found the required reading for each and the lowest rate you can buy it for on BookScouter. Then I compared it to the highest selling rate on BookScouter. Here’s what I found.

Book TitleISBNBuy on BookScouter forSell on BookScouter forNet Difference
The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Law and Strategy9781285428499$71.12$51.70-$19.42
Environmental Economics and Management9781111826673$18.64$25.67+$7.03
Handbook of Corporate Lending9780615447223$41.57$4.47-$37.10
Financial Analytics9781307421583$162.27NA-$162.27
Window on Humanity9781260801866$88.99$17.46-$71.53 
Note: These estimates are accurate as of January 2020. Prices and rates may vary depending on the time of year and condition of your textbooks.

I was surprised to see that a few books sell on BookScouter for more than you can pay to own them.

Based on these numbers, I would say that it doesn’t always pay to buy and resell your books on BookScouter. However, if you can find a good deal on eBay, Craigslist, or around campus, reselling your used books on the site can definitely turn a profit, or at least help you make back a chunk of your original costs.

One thing I found to be consistent is that BookScouter reliably had a lower price than the university bookstore. For example, the first book in the table above, The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Law and Strategy, sells for $71.12 on BookScouter. At the university bookstore, you’d pay $94.50 for a used edition:

The Entrepreneur's Guide to Law and Strategy Bookstore Price

BookScouter Campus Rep and Apprenticeship Programs

If you try BookScouter and like it, then you can sign up to be a BookScouter Campus Rep. You’ll earn extra money by referring friends to the platform. There’s a short application involved that should only take about five minutes to complete. The site doesn’t specify how much campus reps can earn.

If you’re a business or marketing major, then you may want to consider applying to be a BookScouter Apprentice. The job requires that you’ve used BookScouter before, have an interest in business operations or marketing, and can devote at least 10 hours per week to the position.

The apprentice application is longer than the campus rep one and requires you to submit a resume. Again, the site doesn’t specify pay.

BookScouter’s Pro Tools

For $29.99 per month, you can register for BookScouter’s Pro Tools. These are geared towards high-volume sellers and are intended to streamline the book-selling process. If you’re curious about the Pro Tools, you can try the service for free for 30 days.

Pro Tool 1: Deals

BookScouter’s Deals is a useful feature for book flippers. Using a unique sorting algorithm, the tool identifies books that have the lowest vendor purchase price and the highest vendor offer price.

For example, using this tool, you can learn that one vendor is selling a book for $20 while another is buying that same book for $40. You can then reserve your $40 offer for the book right before purchasing it for $20. That’s a $20 profit for very little work.

Pro Tool 2: Bulk Lookup

BookScouter’s Bulk Lookup is another useful tool to look up multiple ISBNs simultaneously and get the results on one screen (with some limits).

The tool allows you to filter out the lowest offers to see how those affect the average offer price, and you can also export the results as a CSV file to a spreadsheet so you can analyze the data however you want.

Pro Tool 3: Notifications

According to the site, the notification service can send you an email when a book is being bought by a vendor for the price you specify or more.

To set the email alert, you enter a list of ISBNs and the minimum price you wish to sell the books. When BookScouter Pro finds a company that will buy it at that price, they’ll notify you.

Pro Tool 4: Buy-Back Tracking

This tool automatically tracks the books you’ve sent to vendors so you don’t have to use pen and paper or a spreadsheet.

You can link your email account to save information related to your BookScouter transactions, and it allows you to create accounts receivable reports or use it as a way to investigate any problems.

BookScouter FAQs

If you’ve never sold books to an online service, it might be confusing how BookScouter could be better than a site like Craigslist or eBay.

Are there any fees to buy or sell books on BookScouter?

Using BookScouter’s basic features is free. However, if you want to use the Pro Tools, you’ll pay $29.99 per month.

Can you automate selling books on BookScouter?

BookScouter is integrated with a website called Zapier to help automate the book buying and selling process. You can set up an email notification to track pricing from a price-watching service for certain ISBNs, which means you don’t have to keep checking every few days.

You can also set an alert for an ISBN whose price fluctuates frequently, along with a price threshold. If the book’s price goes above that, you’ll receive an email.

Can you buy/sell on BookScouter successfully without paying for Pro Tools?

BookScouter’s Pro Tools aren’t mandatory for successfully flipping books online. The tools help simplify the process of searching ISBNs, identifying price points, and researching which books are in demand, but you don’t need them to make a profit with BookScouter.

If you’re looking to sell books regularly or in bulk, Pro Tools may be a wise investment. But if you’re only trying to sell a handful of books every once in a while, the basic options are enough.

BookScouter Review Summary: Turn Your Passion for Books into Money

There’s definitely a market for selling books online, and BookScouter provides a simple solution to help gauge the cost of books and identify places where you can turn a book into a profit.

Its free tools make it easy to determine from whom you’ll get the most money, and the process for sending the books and receiving payment is straightforward. With BookScouter, you might be able to turn your passion for books into a way to generate income.

Related: The Best Places to Sell Your Old iPhone for Cash

Author
Trinity Owen

Trinity has been researching and testing work from home opportunities for more than 9 years and enjoys sharing the information gathered with fellow introverts. She's a wife, mother of one rambunctious 3-year-old son, and avid freelance business owner and blogger.

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