What to sell: Magazines

Come to Papa.

There they are: under the coffee table, cluttering the shelves, in the bathroom, on the mantle, in your bag, all over your office... magazines are all over the place. They have a very limited time-frame of usefulness and are basically designed to be read once and tossed.

I'm not going to tell you to hoard magazines. For for love of all things sacred get rid of your old magazines. But before you dump them all in the recycle bin, take an extra moment to see if they can get you a spot of cash on the 2nd-hand market.

And once you notice what magazines are selling on eBay, you can often pick them for next to nothing. After all, magazines are rightfully considered wasteful clutter pretty quickly.

So what magazines have value (other than that National Geographic of the girl with the haunted eyes)? With a bit of research, I've discovered there are lots of mags that can be flipped for bucks. Few magazines will get big dollars on their own, but if you are paying very little (or nothing) for them, you can make a few bucks of profit pretty easily.

  • First, the obvious. Vintage and antique magazines (and catalogs). While an old magazine is not guaranteed to fetch a high price, it is a good place to start. Make sure to take good photos and describe the contents in your listing. Many people are more interested in the images of celebrities or the advertisements in old magazines than the articles.
  • Specialized interest and industry magazines. These can often be very expensive new and not exactly common at the newsstand, so folks will buy them online. Whether the topic is dentistry or fly fishing, there are professionals and hobbyists who need that back issue.
  • Art magazines. Some of the more high-end art magazines have massive retail prices when new, but can later be found for a few coins at a garage sale or library clear-out. I have personally made a killing on several occasions reselling Raw Vision folk art magazines that I bought for only a dollar each.
  • High end Knitting Magazines. My wife loves these things but usually will just photocopy a few pages she likes and then pass them on to me to for online sale. Some of these issues sell for over $20 each!
  • Fashion and design magazines (or any magazines, really) from overseas. Again, these things have a hefty price tag when bought new at the newsstand in the US, but lose their value real quick afterwards.Same with UK music magazines like Mojo
  • Recent issues of magazines. I gleaned the knowledge of reselling recent issues of magazines from the Suzanne A. Wells blog. Sometimes issues from the past year can be resold for decent bucks. The celebrity on the cover is a big selling point for some of these so make sure to put their name in the subject of your listing. If your friends have a subscription, ask them if they will give you their issues when they are done rather than recycling them. 
  • Bulk Lots of magazines. And, of course, the classic. Any regular readers of this blog know that I don't like taking the time to list items that are only going to fetch me a buck or two in the end. That's why I'm a big fan of selling small profit items in lots. While I won't bat an eye at a magazine flip for $4, selling a lot of ten mags for $40 profit will get my blood pumping for sure.
A few other things to remember about picking and selling magazines:
  • Use the old standby of completed items eBay search to do quick research. Realize that you may not get the same results you see, particularly if there is a small sample size of completed listings.
  • Some specific magazine back issues can be sold through Amazon. Particularly for those giant 'book-sized' (and 'book-priced') magazines.
  • Ask your doctor, dentist, or other waiting room having professional if they are recycling their old magazines. If they are, maybe they will let you have them.
  • Magazines without a mailing label (or remnants of adhesive from a label) will get better dollars.
  • Magazines don't qualify as Media Mail (because they have advertisements in them), so set your shipping charges accordingly.
  • Magazines can always be put in the recycling bin later, so if you have a chance to get them for free, go for it. Free magazine issues are basically a no-risk pick. 
So there you have it. Keep you eyes open for possible magazine picks and you'll be padding up the paypal account in no time.


  1. I have a ton of old Metal Edge magazines i've been hoarding for years. They go for decent money on Ebay too.

    1. Metal Edge... absolutely. I hate to make the suggestion to cash in on tragedy, but it often the value of a rock or celebrity magazine peaks shortly after the death of whomever is on the cover. So any Metal Edge mags with Gwar would probably do really well right now.