Ultimate Guide to Flipping Books For Profit in 2023

There's more to books than flipping pages

How to Flip Books 2023
Reselling 101

By RC Staff

Key Points

  • There have been a ton of profitable books released recently

  • Resellers are able to double or triple their money on the right books

  • Signed copies, special editions, and rare books are all out there

Alright, let’s talk about books. You like reading right? Because money is cool, sure but you know what’s a lot cooler? Knowledge. You know, the more you learn, the more you earn. Today, we’re looking at the wide world of flipping books for profit. From signed copies, rare and out of print editions, and special folios that flip for thousands, books are a great way for any reseller to fatten their wallet AND their minds. Got some ideas percolating yet? Let’s get into it.

Why should you flip books?

Ok, we’ve all passed the eight grade (hopefully). We know reading is important, but there’s more to books than the words inside.

The last decade has seen a tremendous shift in the way people interact with books. There are so many more options now to consume literature. Audiobooks, Kindle, eReaders of all kinds. Even avid readers are reading less than before while still getting through books.

How Popular are Audiobooks?

Graph from WordsRated.com

In a way, books have shifted from an absolute necessity to just another option. They’re still popular, of course, but you can think of it sort of like mechanical watches. There are other cheaper, more convenient options out there, but people still opt for the tactile option.

It’s also meant that interest in more collectable versions of books has strengthened. If you’re making a conscious choice to keep your library physical, chances are you also want it to look nice. Of course, publishers have been quick to meet the demand.

So let’s look at it from a resellers perspective. There’s a lot, and we do mean a lot, of books out there. How do you know what’s worth flipping?

What are the best books to resell?

We’re going to break this down into sections. If you’re a regular reseller, you’re probably most familiar with hyped releases and products that are sold out online. You might not expect it, but there are tons of book releases that fit that bill.

Resell signed books

So this one’s obvious. A signature on pretty much anything boosts its value, and they’re a common sight in publishing. From celebrity authors, to authors that are celebrities, a signature is one of the first things to look for when looking for a book to flip.

But first, whose signature? Just because an author has slapped their name on a book doesn’t necessarily mean it’s worth buying. For one, look for books written by public figures, celebrities, basically people who already have a following outside of authoring.

These books will sometimes feature a limited sale of signed copies. If they’re a big star, the math here is pretty simple: signed copies will be worth a ton. Politicians, actors, even streamers. If people will pay for their signature on a napkin, they’ll pay for their signature on a book.

Next are big authors. A lot of contemporary writing is marketed on social media, and authors can amass huge followings that will devour everything they put out. In the same way that a band can attract groupies, these writers’ loyal fans will also be willing to throw tons of cash at them, and you, for their autograph.

Let’s take a look at some recent signed books that were profitable for resellers:

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger, Be Useful: The former California governor put out a 272-page book back in May. Essentially a biography and self-help book rolled into one, a limited number of signed copies went up as a pre-sale before release. These would resell for around $150 per copy.
  • Rebecca Yarros, Iron Flame: This is the second book in a massively hyped series. Yarros has gained significant attention on BookTok, and many of her fans went absolutely feral to get their hands on a signed Iron Flame book. These also flipped for around $150.
  • Tenacious D Signed Coloring Books: These were kind of weird. There were multiple different listings for signed and unsigned copies, and signed copies were sold separately at SDCC. Even though it’s a coloring book, fans were willing to pay around $50 for one.

As a reseller, signed books will be your go-to. They check all the boxes, hyped, valuable, and inherently low productions (outside of an autopen). As long as celebrities and ghostwriters want to keep making a buck, signed copies will be around.

Resell special editions of books

When we say special edition, we’re generally talking about either super-premium editions of new releases, or reprints of classics. You can think of them like collector’s editions for books.

These aren’t super common, but do come up occasionally. The Folio Society is a publisher that specializes in these kinds of works. Most of their books start at around $150, but they also do bespoke reprints of classic writings that can stretch past $1,000.

Resell Special Edition Books Folio

These are retail prices

For a lover of literature or someone who wants to put something expensive on their shelf, works like these are perfect. Because what says “I like reading” like a book you never open out of fear of damaging it?

These releases are also great for resellers. They’re typically advertised well in advance, produced in limited numbers, and priced high. After all, the difference between $1,000 and $1,500 isn’t all that great if you’re already willing to throw down a grand for a book.

Resell discontinued books

Here’s where we get into the weeds. The previous two categories are pretty standard as far as sourcing goes: the book goes live on a website, people buy it, it sells out, you flip it for profit. Same method for most other books that resell.

But there’s also a considerable aftermarket for discontinued books. For smaller publishers or authors, a book may only receive a single printing run. The books made during this run are all that are ever made, and even if the book receives considerable interest afterwards, it still might not get a reprint.

Educational or informative books are especially notorious for these. An expert on a subject might put together a book after years of research, and manage to get a printing deal. Years later, that book might be heralded as the most informative on the subject. The only trouble is there’s not many copies out there, and everyone wants one.

Cue inflated prices. Not enough of an item and two many people wanting to buy one is a pretty simple formula. Even if someone manages to rip one of these books onto a PDF or otherwise publishes it online, physical copies will still have value.

Obviously this a trickier form of flipping. If you’re not super familiar with a subject or rare books, you might not know where to start. Most resellers should probably stick to new releases, but if you’re already in the habit of crawling through old bookstores, make sure to look up any interesting finds on the internet. You might find something truly valuable.

Where to buy books to resell

Ok, back to the easy bits. Like we said, most new releases will be sold online. Signed copies are occasionally available at in-person signings or sold through local booksellers, but the vast majority of books worth reselling will be listed online.

If you’re not buying directly from the publisher, you might buy from an independent bookseller. Companies like Indigo and Waterstones are known for producing special versions of new books, and also have signed copies in stock on occasion.

Waterstones Signed Book for Sale

Waterstones “Special Books” section is frequently updated

Want to keep up with new releases? The best way is join up with a network of resellers like RC Elite. If you’re not an avid reader, it can be hard to know about everything being sold. Fortunately, there are other people out there that can share the best flips. Books are just one of the many items posted in RC Elite on the daily.

One nice thing about books is that they don’t tend to sell out quite as fast as other hyped releases. Shoes, art, music, clothes, everyone expects these to be gone in moments. Books though are usually pretty easy to buy at retail. As long as you show up on time, snagging a copy is a breeze.

How to sell extra books

If you’ve cleared out your attic lately, you might have come across a few dog-eared copies you’re looking to hawk. While you probably won’t get anything exceptional for them, there are always buyers looking to buy your extra books. Remember to give them a quick Google search first to see if you have any special editions or rare books on hand.

Decluttr and HalfPriceBooks are popular platforms that specialize in buying used books. If you’re just looking to get some copies off your hands for a few bucks in exchange, these platforms will pay you for your books.

For textbooks, there are many platforms. Textbooks.com, Cash4Books, and GoTextbooks are some of the most popular options. Obviously new editions are worth the most, but even older copies can still sell. Not for what you paid for them, but that’s how the world works sometimes.

Overall, you can see that there’s a market out there for books new and old, signed and unsigned, pulp or Pulitzer. Even if you prefer to listen to audiobooks or do your reading on your phone, books will be around for a long time to come.

If you want to get in on opportunities like these, it’s time to join RC Elite. Link up with other resellers and get the inside scoop on best flips before they drop.

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