Wednesday, July 14th, 2010
Selling used books may be a necessary evil for those with boxes and cases and stacks of unwanted books. They collect dust and take up valuable space that can be used for something other than storage. The market for used books is an exploding online industry. In the past few years, several sites specializing in used books have become very successful, garnering a loyal customer base. If you have unwanted textbooks, paperbacks or hard cover books collecting dust in a corner, now is the time to see how much they are worth and to reclaim that space.
Many people form a close attachment to their books and hesitate to part with them while others read a book once and never open it again. Regardless of which category you fall into, if you have ever read a book, chances are there are several cluttering your home. At one time, unwanted books were primarily sent to landfills, wasting space and filling them unnecessarily. Now there are plenty of opportunities to recycle the books, especially textbooks, for someone else to use or enjoy. Before you box them up and drop them at a local library or charity, you should know that selling used books can be profitable.
For the most competitive pricing, the majority of people use an online service that specializes in buying and selling used books. There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing one of these services. Each vendor will determine whether the books are in “good”, “fair” or “poor” condition when they are received, based on their own definitions. This may negatively affect the price originally quoted for the book. Once a book is received and processed, very few sites will send the book back if you change your mind, or are unhappy with the new price quote.
Many sites buying or selling used books provide a label that covers basic shipping charges and offers the option of sending payment via check or to a PayPal account. The check may take seven to ten days to be received. The PayPal account can be debited sooner, but may carry transfer fees. A little research can help you decide which method is right for you. The entire process takes approximately fifteen business days. For best the results, read the FAQ’s and customer comments before deciding which site to use.
For more information on this topic, visit our web site at www.ckybooks.com. And happy de-cluttering!
Wednesday, June 9th, 2010
I correspond with quite a few of you, not only here but also on Twitter and Facebook. Many of you are avid readers and have to purge your home every now & then before you lose a small child among the books you’ve acquired. However, I ALSO know that there are many of you out there visit us because you want to make some extra dough. Todd has compiled a list of suggestions for where to find used books that could turn you a pretty profit. You avid readers – feel free to read on. You might find it’s not so hard to fund your Amazon habit after all!
1) FRIENDS OF LIBRARY SALES
Go to the Friends of Library sales in your area. Contact the main library in your town and ask them if they have a book sale periodically. If it’s a decent size library, it may have 2 or 3 sales per year. Normally you pay $15 or so a year to join the FOL. That enables you to get into the sale ahead of the public. And no, ‘The Friends of the Library’ is not a group of Quakers.
2) ESTATE SALES
Watch the newspaper for estate sales. Though some people try to disguise garage sales by calling them estate sales, an estate sale is one in which there is an ‘estate’ left by someone who has died and the people conducting the estate sale are trying to sell ALL the belongings of the recently deceased person in order to ‘settle’ the estate (divide up the money from the proceeds of the sale to the different family members that remain and have a legal right to the estate). I recently bought 29 books for $23 on the last day of a 3-day estate ‘sale’. I’ve already sold 9 of those books for over $150. But perhaps more importantly, through this sale, I made contact with someone that does estate sales on a regular basis and they said they would let me have an early look at the used books of an upcoming sale they are going to have.
Auctions are different than Estate sales but sometimes estates are settled by having an ‘Estate Auction’ rather than an ‘Estate Sale’. At Estate Sales, items are normally priced and you either pay the price that is marked or you don’t buy it. At an Estate Auction, or any auction, items are not pre-priced but they are sold to the highest bidder. There are other kinds of auctions as well. Sometimes a business goes out of business and a bank or a court of law that now owns the property of the business or is acting on behalf of unpaid creditors has an auction to try to recoup some of the money the business owed. Sometimes a business owner retires or just had excess ‘stuff’ they want to sell. I attended an estate ‘Auction’ about 6 weeks ago and would up buying 200-300 books for $200. A higher price than I wanted to pay, especially since around 75% of the books were worthless (I don’t sell penny books). That’s the way it goes sometimes at an auction. But of the remaining 25% I got my money’s worth and then some.
4) THRIFT STORES
Some, if not many, booksellers utilize this source but I haven’t had much success with it. Thrift stores are stores that typically resell donated items. It may be a small locally owned or operated thrift store or it could be a larger chain like Goodwill. Look in the yellow pages under ‘Thrift Stores’. There is one store in my vicinity that sells things at 25% off one day a week. And my local Goodwill headquarters has an auction every week. I have bought only a handful of books from thrift stores. I’m beginning to think my time is better spent with other sources I have developed.
5) YARD SALES
I haven’t had much success with finding books at yard sales – it’s a lot of leg work (and gas money). Now if you happen to be out anyway on the weekend and see one and have the time, go ahead and stop. In my town, the newspaper has free ads you can use and there are many yard sales announced there each week. Sometimes people will include ‘books’ in the description of what they are selling, but beware, it could be a load of firewood (Nora Roberts novels, Readers Digest books, Time Life, National Geographic, old textbooks or encyclopedia sets). However, I was out one Saturday and picked up 5 books at a sale for $1 each that I would up selling for $15 – $20 each. Another time I was driving around looking for yard sales when I came across a bunch of boxes someone had thrown out – it looked like someone had moved. In the boxes were quite a few books, one that’s on the river for $75. I haven’t sold it yet but I have sold some of the other ones.
6) PUT AN AD IN THE PAPER
As mentioned earlier, our town newspaper allows you to place free ads. So I tried putting an ad in the paper that said I wanted non-fiction books, small or large lots. I didn’t say I wanted to ‘buy’ books; I just said I ‘wanted’ books. I made that distinction in hopes someone would just want to get rid of some books at no cost. But I knew that most would want you to pay for them as you would expect. This generated a lot of calls but not many good results. But if you have a bit of time on your hands you may try this. If you do, be very prepared to answer some specific questions and you also need to ask some specific questions. You need to decide ahead of time how much you will tell people you will pay for their books. You need to make this clear before you spend your time driving across town (or out of town) to look at some books and you need to make sure this price is clear and acceptable to the other person. I had one person tell me he would ‘make it worth my while’ to come look at his 40 or 50 books. I was accustomed to telling people I would give .50 to $1 apiece and in some cases as high as $2 a book. When I came and looked at this person’s books and told him how much I normally give, he backed out and said he wasn’t interested. Fortunately I didn’t drive far to look at these. But I learned something else too – I learned that some hunting books are worth some money. This person kind of clammed up after I offered a dollar a book so I don’t really know what he meant when he told me he would ‘make it worth my while’. People will also ask you what kind of books you are looking for. I would always make it clear that I wanted non-fiction only. It’s funny how people read your ad saying you want non-fiction books and they are calling because they have boxes and boxes of romance books they want to sell you. I always made it clear I didn’t want Readers Digest, Time Life, or National Geographic published books. I explained the reason – I am buying books for resale and the book has to be worth a few dollars in order for me to spend my time marketing and selling it. And the publishers mentioned earlier typically print large quantities of their books so there are a lot of them out there (big supply) and there is not enough demand for them. That’s why I don’t buy fiction either. There are exceptions of course but it is a general rule of thumb. If someone calls you and say they have ‘a thousand’ books for sale (like someone did me that lived 50 miles away), you should probably ask, since it is such a large quantity, have they been stored inside or outside. In my case, these books were in a storage shed and some had water damage. About half were Reader’s Digest (even though I said I couldn’t use them) and about 200 were fiction. Of the 300 left, there were maybe 50 -100 books worth taking and of those I got rid of about half or more. Fortunately I only gave $20 for them (plus $25 worth of gas and 2 ½ hours of time).
I did buy some books from one guy this way that I have already got my money back plus some but I finally stopped using this method of getting books – it was just too time consuming. However, it may work if you don’t mind taking all the calls and being very selective about which books you would go look at in hopes of getting that one call that would be a goldmine. I never got that call.
7) BIG CHAIN BOOKSTORES CLEARANCE SHELVES
Some booksellers find books they can use at their local big chain bookstore. Though I have visited these stores a few times I had never found anything I could use there – until recently. I just happened to stop by one of these chain stores and found some books seriously reduced. I picked up a few bargains but it has only happened one time for me.
These are typically books from publishers where they printed more copies than they have sold (or can sell through their normal channels). So they sell them at seriously discounted prices. Normally you see these books at mark down tables of bookstores and they have a black magic marker mark on one or two edges called a remainder mark. To be profitable at all, you need to buy these from a publisher or a remainder book dealer – not from your local big chain bookstore. This is not a channel I have used to get books. I understand it is pretty competitive and you have to generally buy large quantities. From what I have seen, by the time the book has reached this stage, it is already selling on Amazon for pennies on the dollar.
9) CLASSIFIED ADS
This is different than what I mentioned earlier where I placed an ad in the paper saying I wanted books. This is where people advertise that they have books for sale. I want to address two sources of classified ads – local newspaper and CraigsList.com. Sometimes people will advertise books for sale in the newspaper (under ‘Articles for Sale’ in my paper). I haven’t seen it yet but people do use Craig’s List to sell all sorts of things so you may check that source in your locale.
Some people use this but the competition is stiff and it is like looking for a needle in a haystack – it’s time consuming. There are also Bulk lots of books sometimes on the bay.
11) LOCAL LIBRARY
This is different than Friends of the Library sale mentioned earlier. Some local library branches will sell used books for around a dollar. These are typically books they have too many duplicates of or books donated to them that they can’t use. Call your local branch about this.
Wednesday, April 28th, 2010
There are many outlets and venues for you to sell used books. Below you can find the best methods for selling your used books to maximize your financial resources.
Does old mean rare? Does signed mean valuable?
The first step is trying to get some sort of feel for what you have. Is it a collectible book, which has the potential to be worth a lot of money? Or do you have more recently published novels, or leftover texts from college? The types of books you have dictate how you approach selling them.
A lot of us would like to believe that the box of old books left to us by our grandmother are valuable. Unfortunately, most old books are exactly that -old books. Usually they have little to no value.
I can hear some of you saying, “but mine are first editions!” or maybe “my books are signed by the author”. The bad news is, the vast majority of books ever printed are first editions, because most of them were never popular enough to require additional printings. Signed books are also tricky. An autograph, signature or inscription can often add value. However, there are many authors who will sign anything that quits moving for short periods of time. In order for an autograph or signature to have value, it has to be authentic. Can you show provenance? Even if you can, you must then hope that enough people are collecting signed works of that author, to create a demand for the item. Only when you have a scarce or rare item, coupled with buyer demand, will truly exceptional prices be attained.
Does this mean that all old signed books are worthless or not worth investigating? Not at all. There are some great stories of individuals finding rare books worth lots of money. How about the family in southern Britain who found a copy of “The Origin of Species” by Charles Darwin in their guest bathroom, which is expected to sell for around $99,000.00! Of course, I now check all books found near toilets, wherever I go.
Whenever I find something that I can’t identify, I run to the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America(A.B.A.A). This is a great resource site to point you to an expert who can help you identify what you have, and if it may have value as a collectible book. Like most aspects of life, remember that there are reputable, and less reputable individuals. Asking for references is always a good idea as are sending multiple inquiries sent to different people.
So if it is not rare or collectible, is it garbage?
Your used books always have some sort of value! Most likely, it will not be as much as you hope, but it is definitely worth a few minutes to look at them and see what you have.
The three most popular methods of dealing with your used books are below. All three are the worst possible way to deal with used books from a financial view point. Don’t get me wrong, if you have no regard for your finances, please sell your books at a garage sale or to a local bookstore. If you do opt for one of these methods you may see me. I will be the one who comes along and buys your $15 book for 50 cents, and sells it for a profit.
Garage/Yard/Rummage Sales – The average price for a used book at a sale of this type is between 37-77 cents per book. Apparently, your location in the U.S. affects the price. Midwest and Southern states generally have lower prices, while the coasts seem to have slightly higher prices. These figures are based on what people state they have paid, not the asking price. Why these cheap prices? Your market is small, even if you have a really good book. Say you are trying to sell used textbooks. How long do you think you will wait before a student comes along who happens to need that book and is willing to pay top dollar? Yeah – you are going to be out there awhile. If you want to sell used books in a garage sale, you should only sell the bad ones, or take a tax write off after donating them.
Tax Write Offs & Donations – Goodwill, Thrift Stores etc. – It is a generally accepted practice to deduct anywhere between 25 cents to $2.00 per book. Consult your tax preparer for more details specific to your case. Remember to keep your donation receipts in case the tax man comes calling.
Local Book Store – Many local bookstores will gladly purchase your used books and gently used texts. Be aware however, you are going to get paid next to nothing. The whole process works similar to a pawn shop type deal when you go to sell an item. Few who bother to haul their books into a store, want to haul them back home, even after receiving an offer that is insultingly low.
What is the correct method for selling my used books?
The key to successfully selling your used books to maximize your financial success is a combination of selling strategies. Tap into the online market! Sell your best books online for the most money and then dump the books that are worth less into a garage sale or take the tax deduction.
So you’re thinking, that sounds great, but I do not know anything about selling online. The good news is, there are a couple of options. One is so simple that even my grandmother is able to do it, and she falls into the “internet and computer handicapped” demographic.
Selling Yourself Online – There are two ways to sell your books online.
- Sell your books yourself at various online sites like eBay, Amazon, ABE Books and many others. This method requires you to be more patient as well as computer/internet knowledgeable.
- Sell your books to an online specialty site like CKY Books. There are many online sites like this to choose from. This method is much faster and simpler, but you will make slightly less money.
Selling online using method #1- Online Marketplaces (Amazon, eBay, ABE Books)
You must be prepared to handle many things in order to get paid and actually turn a profit.
- Price your books properly for sale.
- Write accurate descriptions of your books detailing the physical condition.
- Be patient/lucky enough for your book to be selected for purchase while constantly watching the price drop.
- Clean & package your book for shipment.
- Deal with customer emails, questions and complaints.
- Deal with customer returns and items that go missing during shipment.
- Maintain high customer satisfaction ratings which are a requisite for online success.
- Be willing to pay the fees involved.
- Site listing fees, closing fees, commission fees (Will roughly cost between 15%-22% of the sale price of the item)
- Cost to ship item ($2.38 1st pound +.39each additional pound)
- Cost to collect your money (It costs money to move money 1-2% – Hello PayPal)
- Then you have to factor in your time and labor costs, cost of goods, taxes.
Let us assume you sell a book on one of the sites we are talking about and the selling price is $6.58. You will face a Fee Formula similar to this:
(Sale Price – Commission – Closing fee) or $6.58 -$.99 -$1.35 = $4.24
Do not forget to take out cost of goods, packaging and labor costs. Then of course you have taxes.
The biggest drawback that nobody talks about, is the cost when a problem occurs with a sale. All online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay are setup so the end buyer is protected. This is great for the buyer, but is horrible for a seller. If you sell something and a buyer complains, the site will hold your money until you prove your case. Unfortunately, it is your job to prove you did nothing wrong. The buyer holds all the cards and the site holds your money. There are many horror stories of reputable sellers being cheated out of their money and their product. Of course, the rules are in place because past sellers would take advantage of buyers. Another case of a few bad apples spoiling things for everyone.
Selling online using method #2 – Online specialty site like CKY Books
Your time and responsibilities are greatly reduced when you deal with a service like this one, but there are still some things that you have to do.
- Your books have to meet certain condition guidelines. (As they do on the sites like amazon.com and eBay)
- You are responsible for securely packing and shipping your books, and making sure they arrive at their warehouse. (Fairly easy to do when you choose to purchase shipping insurance)
- Again, like most things, there are reputable online sites and less reputable sites. When in doubt it is always a good idea to check out a company’s complaint history with the Better Business Bureau. Steer clear of any site with a large complaint or unresolved complaint history.
The same book we just sold on our previous example would get you a CKY Books payment of between $2.00 and $2.55. Offers can vary from day to day, but you can always expect to get a lesser amount than you would get if you were to sell it yourself. I have seen prices of $1 per book, to well over $100 for some books on sites like this.
You will have to decide which selling methods suit you best. Personally I like to sell my books all at once, and get the most money for my good books and then take a tax write off on the ones that they won’t buy. It saves so much time, and my time is valuable to me.
The Pros are many and the Cons are few.
You enter your books into the website. If they are buying the title, you are given an offer. You may either accept or decline the offers, and the books are added or subtracted from your order. When you are done, you box up your books, print a FREE shipping label, and send off your books. Usually within 15 days, you receive an email that your books have been received and are being processed. In most cases, payment is issued within 24-48 hours via PayPal or Check (your choice). The only real expense you have with a service like this is your minimal cost to insure your shipment -$1.80 buys you $100 of insurance.
You might have a shipping problem and your box is damaged, destroyed or lost. If you do not purchase shipping insurance you are pretty much…up that proverbial creek without a means of propulsion. If you do have shipping insurance, and disaster strikes, you have to file the claim, which can take some time before you get paid. Shipping issues and the condition of your books are the only issues you really have to worry about with services like this.
Hopefully you will find this information worthwhile and it well help you decide which option is the best way for you to sell your used books.
CKY Books is offering a special first time customer promotional, between now and May 31, 2010. Whether you sell a single book or a bunch of books you can earn an extra 10% on your payment amount just by writing the name of this article, “The truth about selling used books” on your packing slip. This promotional offer is valid for first time customers only. To get started selling books online and take advantage of this special offer you can head over to CKY Books and learn more.