Half vs. Amazon vs. eBay: Which is Best for Selling Your Books?

by Lindy on February 16, 2012

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If you’re just starting down the path of selling your things for cash and want to tackle that pile of books you’ve been hoarding in the attic, how do you know where to go to sell them?

Unwanted Books

There are a ton of options. Amazon, Half, eBay, a used bookstore – but which one is the right one? Will you make more if you sell with one vs. the other?

I’ve used a combination of all of the above, because each venue serves a different purpose. But I’ll tell you first and foremost that I favor Half.com for selling all of my media.

Here’s why:

  1. I already have a seller’s account with eBay (in case you didn’t know, Half is owned by eBay so their accounts are one in the same).
  2. I find the user interface incredibly easy.
  3. The fees are much better than on Amazon.

To illustrate the point on fees, here’s a quick comparison.

Say you sell a hardback book for $10.

Amazon Fees & Shipping Credits

  • <$0.99> – transaction fee
  • <$1.50> – 15% referral fee
  • <$1.35> – closing fee for books
  • +$3.99 – shipping credit
  • <$2.99> – actual shipping cost (hypothetical)

Net earnings = $7.16

Half Fees & Shipping Credits

  • <$1.50> – 15% sale fee for books less than $50
  • +$3.99 shipping credit
  • <$2.99> – actual shipping cost

Net earnings = $9.50

See what I mean?

Okay, now let’s go through the process of listing. If you have a large box of books, chances are not all of them are worth selling online because they aren’t worth your time to do so.

To illustrate how I weed out what gets listed and what doesn’t, I’ve created this lovely flow chart.

Sell your books flow chart

Easy, right?

Just kidding. If I lost you above, here’s the gist of my fancy flow chart. It’s not really as difficult as it may look.

1. I always start out at Half.com with the intention of listing my media there.

2. If, upon first glance, I see there are copies of my book selling for less than $1.99 (even bad quality copies), I always put it aside in the “other options” pile. It’s not worth investigating further because I’m not going to get a worthy return.

3. If the going rate is around $6.99 or higher, I’ll consider listing.

4. But wait! Before listing, I always open a second browser window to check the pricing on Amazon. Sometimes pricing can get inflated in the Half.com bubble. You may get excited that your copy of The Official Preppy Handbook is listing for $99.00 on Half, only to find that it’s selling for $9.99 on Amazon.

5. If the pricing looks comparable, then you are clear to return to Half and set up your listing (hey, I have a guide for listing on Half too). Be sure to price your book so it’s competitive with the prices on Amazon as well as Half.


I mentioned above, that if my book has copies listed for less than $1.99, I don’t list it. Here are some other reasons I wouldn’t list a book on Half.

  • When they don’t have my book in their database. You can put in a request to have them add it, but I’ve never been patient enough to go through that process.


What to do with your other books

So what do you do with the books you don’t sell on Half?

  • Is it eligible for Amazon Trade-In? My husband has recently purged quite a few books from his collection using Amazon Trade-In. This is a program where Amazon lets you send them piles of qualifying books in exchange for Amazon credits, which is always good for a book-lover.
  • Sell it on Amazon. If you have a seller’s account on Amazon, or you’re adventurous and want to set one up, by all means sell away.

Do you have any tips to add? Or questions? Are you going to print my flow chart and frame it on your wall? You can, you know.

Are there any of you who prefer to sell with Amazon over Half? Do you want to duke it out? ;)

Further reading: The cheap way to wrap your books for mailing

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  • This is a great guide! I’ve always been a big fan of selling books online, especially my college textbooks back in the day.

    The one thing I will say is that I do check both Amazon and Half to see what prices books are selling for. Sometimes I’ve seen that I can get a few dollars more on Amazon than on Half, so that may be another reason to consider using both.

  • Carol Grund

    I love this site! You did all the hard work for us. Thanks!

  • I’ve been meaning to check out HALF. thanks for the reminder!

  • Thanks lindy, this may have been the kick in the pants (or the arrow in the heart of my final excuse) to get rid of a whole shelf of books that I want to donate or sell.

  • bax

    Why do you insist on taking away my excuses!

  • Uhm, this post is incredibly helpful. I’ve been kind of lazy in selling books that I have (usually just posting on eBay and hoping for the best), but now I’ll definitely look up half.com. Thanks!

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  • I feel like I always make much more on Half!

  • I SO need to sell/get rid of a ton of books in a bookcase that is JUST WAITING to topple on to my precious darling the moment she realizes she can use it to pull herself up. Ugh. Babyproofing. Anyway, your crazy flow-chart made perfect sense and I’m excited to try my hand at selling books!

  • Definitely using this at the end of the semester. SO incredibly helpful!

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  • I’ve never used Half (or even visited it for that matter) but I love Amazon. Everything sells there so quick! I don’t think I’ve ever had a listing not sell within a couple of hours.

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  • Serious infographics! loved them. I prefer Amazon. I know, I could make more. but it’s so easy and sells, as Ashley says above. PS-just stalked FinCon12 site to make sure you are attending…YOU ARE!!! Woohoo, look forward to meeting you :)

  • I use half for books, eBay for most stuff and Craigslist for stuff I don’t want to ship or high $ items that someone will want to look at closely before buying. Feburary was a great month. I sold $60 on half, $250 on eBay and $1200 on Craiglist. All of which went towards our debt snowball.

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  • nemo

    As a past seller on Amazon I can say they treat their sellers very poorly always siding with buyers no matter what. I had a buyer leave me bad feedback because I ‘tampered and changed her shipping to expedited’. Although Amazon knows that to be impossible they would not remove the ladys feedback. This is a typical example, just one of many. Amazon is full of bullys as far as their customer service goes. Not pleasant to deal with.

  • Doug

    An excellent piece of explanation.

    Just tried Half.com. for books. Some of my books don’t have ISBNs which forces me into Ebay. The search unlike Amazon does not seem to produce comparable copies. On Amazon I just put in the title/author keywords, find a comparable copy and press the Sell Yours button. Son on Half I went to Ebay, found a comparable copy but don’t know how to just list it from the comparable copy which already has the title and publication information. Try it with Margaret Mead, Culture and Commitment, Doubleday, 1970. Half just seems more cumbersome to list for sale. It may be that I don’t know how to go from an Ebay listing to a listing of my own.

    Thanks again for all the good work on selling advice.

  • Andrew

    Great flow chart! One question: Amazon of course gets more traffic than Half. Even if you net more per sale, is your book more likely to sell at all on Amazon?

  • That is very attention-grabbing, You’re an overly professional blogger. I’ve joined your rss feed and sit up for in search of extra of your wonderful post. Also, I have shared your website in my social networks

  • Judy

    I listed some nursing textbooks on ebay, THEN I read your suggestions about using half.com. But once they’re listed on ebay, I can’t list them on half.com, can I?

    • Doug

      I list on both and I put a postit on the book to note that so when I sell on
      one site I immediately delete it from the other. Best wishes

  • Kait

    How long does it take for a textbook to sell after posting it? I’ve had mine on half and amazon for a month now and nothing has happened. Thanks.

  • Amazon is still one of the best online store in the world, almost all products we need are available in there.
    If you find yourself sitting around wishing you could find ways to earn some extra cash, this is definitely one avenue to try out.
    Success Lindy!!

  • Angela Chingona

    Seems like great logic – and very easy to follow, I might add – thanks!

  • Kersey Duane

    Amazon uses a fair value for shipping whereas Half uses a low value and then deducts fees on the book and the shipping. I have actually lost money on heavy books sold on Half but never on Amazon.

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