If you are looking for an online business opportunity that is legitimate, easily sustainable, and not dependent on trends and market whims, your best bet is to learn how to sell used books online. However, keep in mind that Internet bookselling is not as accessible as flash-in-the-pan online opportunities. It is a real business endeavor that will require preparation and method. If you are starting from scratch, here are the first things you need to do in order to start a profitable online bookselling career:

Hope for the best, Prepare for the worst

One of the main advantages of internet bookselling over other profit-making endeavors is that it doesn't require a large startup capital. In fact, it is so accessible in terms of financial prerequisites that even stay-at-home mothers and college students are able to thrive. But be warned that even though you can sell books online in your spare time, it doesn't mean that you will be able to devote as little time and effort to it as you want. You can use your spare time, but it will take a substantial amount of it to make things work, so be prepared to make sacrifices.

You also have to keep your profit expectations relatively low at first. Internet bookselling is not a get-rich-quick scheme. Its business model runs more along the lines of Slow But Steady. Try to keep your prices just a little bit higher than "break even" and get a feel for the business while slowly expanding until you finally manage to use bulk selling as a means to earn a large profit. Remember that you are doing this in your spare time and for little startup cash.

Starting Inventory

Now that you've set expectations for your business, you need to handle the most important part: acquisition of your startup inventory. This is arguably the most important part because it is going to be the backbone of your entire business. Every other aspect of the business will be for naught if you don't have any product or service to sell.

Luckily for you, books are very easy to come by. For starters, you can sell old books that you have accumulated in your home, or from your studies. College students usually accumulate used textbooks that can no longer be sold in bookstores because they're outdated, but can still be sold online and used by students who are limited by budget and can't buy newer revisions, or by people who don't have the means to go out and search brick and mortar stores for specific versions of a textbook.

Most people already have tons of used books at home, gathering dust and mildew. But for those who don't have used books at home or need more stock, there are other viable and reliable sources. Bookstores usually have bargain bin sales when they want to move around old stock, most of these books are priced way below SRP and would be ideal for your business. Some smalltime bookstores even offer discounts for bulk purchases, which is exactly what you should be doing. Flea markets and garage sales are also treasure troves for restocking. You can also visit friends and relatives and check if they have old books that they are willing to give away. Some of them will be more than happy to de-clutter their home and will give you their books for free, but try to buy it from them instead, at drastically reduced prices. This will entice them to contact you in the future in case they have more books they want to get rid of and will even refer other acquaintances. You should take note that building your business on top of goodwill and mutual benefits will be more profitable and sustainable than using subterfuge and dishonest practices.

Offline sources may prove to be limiting, and may incur invisible expenses such as food and transportation, so try to limit offline restocking trips and make each one worth all the trouble. For those days where you are unable to do offline restocking trips, you can spend your time trawling auction sites such as ebay and craigslist for sellers of used books, as well as online bookstores such as amazon. Always remember that your goal is to buy books in bulk, as this will save on shipping and transit time.

You should also make sure that you have a place to store your books in. You don't need a large warehouse yet, if at all. Even a basement or a shed is enough (or your bedroom, if you live alone or have a very understanding partner). The only thing you need to ensure is that the books be kept safe from environmental damage and pet damage, if you have one.

Selling your books

If stocking up on inventory is the backbone of your business, the actual selling part is the meat. The best thing about internet bookselling is that you don't need to invest on a brick and mortar location just to sell your books. The internet is full of auction sites such as ebay, craigslist, and even bookstores that list used inventory such as Amazon. While it is not needed at first, starting your own website will also be a great help (and as an aside, if your online bookstore becomes popular enough, you can also leverage that popularity and use it for affiliate marketing and advertising, in order to maximize your profits)

Just a warning, though. If you want to sell old books online, you really have to give it your all. Selling, in any form, will always require effort and brain power, and nowadays, it requires honesty if you want to keep customers around. You are selling used products, so avoid hyping your listings with descriptions that promise exceptional quality or almost brand new condition. These pitches will only make your potential buyers more skeptical about your books. List defects and damages as much as possible while ensuring the reader that the books are still readable and presentable. This approach to selling will make it easier to attract buyers as they will find it less risky and their expectations will be lower.

Shipping your books

This may be the final stage of your internet bookselling business, but it's every bit as important as the others. In most cases, how well you do on this part can make or break your business in the eyes of customers. In some cases, messing up in this stage will make you lose money, since auction sites tend to side in favor of buyers when it comes to disputes.

Fortunately, books are easier to ship and less prone to transit damage. The fact that you're selling products that are not meant to be pristine and spot-free gives you another layer of safety against unsatisfied customers. The same could not be said for electronics and medicinal products. Additionally, books are also easier to get through customs, unlike the aforementioned electronic and medicinal products, which are subject to restrictions or additional fees depending on the location.

You don't need to go overboard with the packaging, primarily because that could increase your expenses. Package your books depending on common sense. A simple backing board for thin paperbacks is enough, and since you're targeting bulk sales, a bunch of books that are tightly packed in a sturdy box will be safe in transit. Make sure you research shipping rates accordingly, though. Being unprepared and uninformed in this part may be costly - literally - for your business.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Internet Bookselling, at the base level is just a repetition of the above parts, and the operations are easily modified according to your comfort zone and ability, on whether you prefer tight, machine-like efficiency or a lax, easily adaptable business environment. Rest assured that Internet bookselling, like any legitimate business worth your time, provides financial rewards relative to the amount of effort and time you put in it.