- Apr 16, 2018
I’m a certified book lover. And by books, I mean print books. E-books are nice and convenient, but they can’t compare to an actual, physical book. Nothing beats curling up at night with a good book. (I prefer crime thrillers, but your own choice of bedside reading may differ)
I love reading, but I have to admit, I enjoy book shopping as well. After a few years of compulsive shopping, my library became covered in books. For fellow book lovers, this is a great problem to have. Every one of us dreams of having a room full of books. But in practice, having a mountain of books you haven’t read (and probably never will read) kind of sucks.
After some consideration, I decided to sell my books. I did some research and found some sites that paid relatively well. I say “relatively well” because unless you have a rare first edition or signed book, you won’t be making crazy money this way. But I was pleasantly surprised by how much money I made back.
If you’re thinking about selling off your books, I wrote this guide for you. It includes a list of websites where you can get maximum dollar for your books. This post also includes some tips on how to go about unloading those books.
Like I mentioned a while ago, you won’t be making big bucks selling your old books. Unless you’re selling a rare first edition, or even an original manuscript, the money you make will be modest. But don’t worry, you won’t be selling them for chump change either. You will make enough money to supplement your weekly expenses, or put a dent in your credit card debt. And that’s not half-bad!
I usually sell my books for around 25% of its original price. It may be tempting to sell best-sellers at a higher price, but don’t do that. Think about it: when a book becomes popular, the publisher will churn out literally tens of millions of copies. With all those copies flooding the market, demand for used copies goes down. Just think about how many copies of The Da Vinci Code you’ve seen in used bookstores.
Selling popular titles at high prices is the kind of mistake only newbie booksellers make. So price your books to sell, and you’ll be good to go.
Pro tip: you’ll earn more money selling your books in bulk to an online shop than to individual buyers.
Let’s say you’re selling ten books. If ten different people buy your books, you’ll have to coordinate with those ten people. You’ll have to pack the books individually, and mail them one by one. It’s just a lot of work, and I don’t think it’s worth it in the end. Shipping for single books can be pretty expensive, too. I once sold a cheap paperback for $2, and shipping for the book was over thrice that amount! Although the buyer shouldered the shipping cost, they weren’t too happy about it.
But if you sold all your books to just one shop, you only have to deal with one person and send the books in a single shipment. Easy. Simple. Profitable.
Now that I mentioned online shops, it’s time to tell you about the ones I sold books to.
Websites to Sell Your Books To
Let’s start with the most familiar name on this list: Amazon . We all know of Amazon as the online shopping behemoth. But the site has a pretty sweet reselling program as well.
At the moment, you can only sell textbooks to them. They’ll pay a maximum of 80% of the original price. Note that this is the maximum figure, and not all books may warrant that selling price. They also pay via Amazon Gift Cards, so remember that in case you prefer cash for your items.
And at the risk of going off-topic, you can also sell a variety of items to Amazon, including cell phones, Kindle E-Readers, and Gaming Devices.
Once Amazon commits to buying your stuff, you can send them in for free. Amazon will email you a paid shipping label, which you print and stick to your package.
The type of books Amazon buys may seem limited, but I look at it as a trade-off for having the opportunity to deal with a legit, professional, buying program.
AbeBooks is one of the more seller-friendly shops online. Like Amazon, shipping your books to AbeBooks is free. Free shipping may not seem like a big deal but when you begin shipping dozens, or even hundreds, of books, it saves you a lot of money.
And if you want to level-up your selling game, AbeBooks has a paid subscription service for sellers. AbeBooks will boost your selling capabilities by letting you use their custom inventory management software. Sure, this tool is mostly useful if you’re aspiring to go professional. But it’s still a huge help for all sellers, because it helps you stay on top of your sales and profits.
Powell’s Books prefers to buy books in large batches, as opposed to individual books. This actually works better for me, since I do prefer selling in lots. I save more time and money coordinating and sending stuff out.
If live in or around Portland, Oregon, you can also bring your books to their physical stores. But honestly, their online service is so good, I never even thought about going. (And I live only twenty minutes from their store!)
The store will charge you a flat shipping rate of $3.99. But when you ship books worth $50 and up, shipping becomes free.
If none of the above sites are to your liking, you can try BookScouter. The site isn’t just a shop; it’s also an aggregator that collects data from other websites. In this case, it looks through over 50 unique book-buying websites and gives you the top-selling rates.
With that data, you can choose to sell to the website that offers the best prices. You can then sell to those websites via BookScouter.
When Should You Sell Your books?
It’s a difficult question that every book lover will have to ask at some point. Nobody ever wants to sell their books, but here are a few good reasons to do just that.
You need the physical space
Whenever I meet second-hand booksellers, they tell me shortage of space is the primary reason people sell their books. Let’s face it, books take up a lot of space. And while it’s both satisfying and calming to gaze at shelves filled with books, sometimes that space could be better used for something else.
Maybe you have a new baby, and need to turn the library into a nursery. Or you had to downgrade your lifestyle and move into a smaller home. There are times when you’ll need to make as much extra room as you can.
You haven’t gotten around to reading specific books
Every bookworm has a “pile of shame”; a pile of books they keep promising to read, but never quite get to. I, on the other hand, have shelves of shame. This was my reason for selling off most of my collection. I gave myself a five-year ultimatum: after five years, any book that I haven’t started reading will have to go.
At first, it hurt. Then I thought about it this way: the books weren’t doing any good just sitting on my shelf. By selling them off, they presumably end up with new owners who will read and appreciate them.
You and the books have “grown apart”
During the 1990s, vampire novels were all the rage. I got swept up in the trend. I bought and read so many vampire books. They were awesome at the time. But I browsed through one of my old books, and I have to admit, they did not age well. I enjoyed reading them, but they did nothing for me at present. So I added them to the pile of books I was planning on selling.
I’m sure you have books you no longer have the same affinity for, and that’s okay. But I suggest selling them off to make some space and earn a few extra bucks.
You need the extra funds
Another common reason. We all experience rainy days. When those times come, I have no trouble recommending you sell your books. Yes, books are important. But so are groceries, rent, and paying for your kids’ tuition. Priorities matter. And besides, you could always re-buy the titles you sold when you get some extra income.
Health and cleanliness reasons
This may seem like a weird reason, but I once had to learn this the hard way. After a few decades sitting on open shelves, my books were covered in dust. There were times when it looked like there were more books than dust. I started cleaning them religiously, but books and dust are like magnets for one another. And no matter how hard I cleaned, dust always remained between the pages and covers.
And then I started developing chronic obstructive airways disease (COAD). Turns out my lungs and air passages are pretty sensitive to dust. So with a heavy heart (and difficult breathing), I sold my collection online. Here’s hoping whoever has my books isn’t too sensitive to dust.
All these websites are legit places to sell your old books! They offer top-dollar, or in the case of BookScouter, can find you the best prices for your books. If you’re looking to unload a large number of books, give these websites a try!
This review is based on my own experiences selling my old books. Now it’s your turn to share! Have you sold books online? Where did you sell, and how were the buying rates?
Let’s hear your stories!