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Where Can I Get the Best Price for my Used Books?

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During the first six months of 2012, my wife and my sister have challenged each other to an contest. The person that sells their unused space-takers from around the house for the most, wins a free spa day from the other. As frugal as I tend to be, I’ve never had much use for EBay but I’ve sold my fair share of books online. I did it during my college years and was happy to get something back from the high price of my text books. (Especially my master’s degree books. Why are they the same size but more expensive?)

My wife is doing the same thing around the house. She has bookshelves full of books that she hasn’t touched since we were married and finally, she’s getting rid of them. But what is the best way to do it? There are plenty of web companies who would love to be involved in selling your books so who is going to help my wife win the spa day?

College Students

Amazon.com is the winner when it comes getting the most money from your text books but that is, in part, because Amazon isn’t purchasing your book. Think of Amazon as the local consignment shop that will take a portion of your profits in exchange for connecting you with a buyer.

As I’ve learned with my textbooks, Amazon’s cut of the profits is high and now that I’m pretty far removed from college, I’ve noticed that it’s even higher. Plus, you have to take in to account shipping and price of the packing materials. (Make sure you ship books using the postal service’s media mail. It’s slower but cheaper.)

Other Books

If, back in the day, you read the entire Harry Potter series and now want to sell those books, expect it not to be worth your time. If your shelves are full of wildly popular books that everybody wants to unload, that $1.00 (or less) of profit probably isn’t worth the time and effort spent but some books, the books that aren’t as mainstream, may sell for enough to get them out of the house and make a few bucks in the process. My wife has found this to be true of some of her older books that are no longer in print but people still want them.

Other Ways to Sell

I’m not the person who will take the time to list all of my books online, buy shipping materials, pack them, go to the post office, stand in the line, and ship them all for a couple dollars in profit so I prefer to take them to Goodwill or give them to friends. I’ve also found over the years that I can strengthen client relationships by giving them old books based on mutual interests we have. Some libraries will take your old books as well as online book swapping sites.

The Contest

There are still a few weeks left in the contest and neither side is divulging their current totals. I guess a spa day is well worth the time but other than text books that can pull in a nice amount of money, I’m not so much the type to put that kind of work in to something for a few dollars. If you are, good for you. Those few dollars can certainly add up over time.

{ 20 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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20 Responses to “Where Can I Get the Best Price for my Used Books?”

  1. tom says:

    Half.com, an eBay site, is my go-to place. They tie into PayPal and the USPS for shipping info. I’ve never used Amazon, but like how Half operates. I’ve sold most of my engineering books pretty quickly, usually within a week of posting them.

  2. cvargo says:

    Chegg.com is a site that I rented all my textbooks from for school. But they also buy books from you. So you don’t have to wait around til someone buys your book. This is a way to sell them quickly! And they very reputable. I used them for undergrad and grad

    • Martha says:

      Can you write in your textbooks and rent them?

      • Jim says:

        I’d doubt it. :(

        • cvargo says:

          @Martha my experience with chegg, is as long as the writing isn’t excessive they still take and rent out the book. When I was in school though I just put a sticky note on the page for my notes that way I could guarantee top dollar when I sold the book or avoid a fine when returning to chegg

  3. Lisa says:

    Selling books is such a pain and the school bookstore is a rip off. Makes me wonder if it’s worth just renting books next time

    • 342 says:

      well lisa if u want to save money then keep selling, but if u want things easier then just rent them

  4. Zeek says:

    It appears most of the comments refer to used text books but for other non school books I have sold them at Half Price books. There are also many charities that hold massive book sales. I personally think that donating your old paperbacks, and taking a tax deduction is the best route. Face facts, in a world of Kindles, E-Readers, the glue bound book is going the way of the buggy whips.

  5. Kandace says:

    I just sold my textbook from last semester back to Amazon. I bought it for around $75 and got $43.26 in amazon gift card. Not too bad and easy shipping. When Half Price Books first opened here, we made quite a bit selling books there. Lately, they’ve been offering almost nothing– not even worth the effort to take them in. I guess everyone had the same idea.

    I’ve had luck with some books that Amazon didn’t want at Cash 4 Books. Here’s a link (referral): http://www.cash4books.net/index.php?ref=221127. Free, easy shipping, and they mail a check pretty quickly.

    I had thought about selling some though Amazon Marketplace but I don’t know anyone who has done it, and imagine it would be slow going at first. When I’m in the mood to purge items, I want to get them out of the house quickly.

  6. reducereuserecycle says:

    This was a poorly written and/or what’s the point post. The title is “Where can I get the best price for my used books”.

    The author says the best place for text books but for all other books doesn’t.

    He just says that he doesn’t bother selling those kind.

    • DH says:

      Yes, because you hardly get enough money anywhere for mainstream books to justify bothering with selling them. The post does not fail the headline.

      I used to try to sell my books on sites like half.com, but whatever I was paid never justified the hassle (or the cost) of packing and shipping the books to new owners.

      I donate them to my local library instead and write it off on my taxes.

  7. Mary says:

    I am a retired teacher. At one time I had over 10,000 books in my home. I have been letting them go in several different ways: Ebay – it was hot in 2006. Not so much now but you can still sell some types of books in large groups such as Dr. Suess, Berenstain Bears, Early readers. Rare books. Yard sales if you are willing to take 25 cents. If you sell a lot of books, it adds up. Craigs list – I sold a mixed lot of 200 children’s books for $160 to a new teacher. We were both happy with that price. And donating directly to schools and teachers especially in low income areas makes you feel really good.

    • susan says:

      Hi Mary, I’ve just recently rtired and over the 22 years of teaching I have accumulated close to a thoursand professional books. Do you know of any site that would buy such books?

  8. asha says:

    Try this site…
    http://www.bigwords.com/

    I have yet to use it. But I heard lot of good things about it.
    Asha

  9. Kathy says:

    I use http://www.paperbackswap.com/ – you trade for points and use the points to get other books members offer on the site. I have several hard bound old recipe books I obtained from that site for just 1 point each. They have a sister site listed at the top where you trade dvd’s – you can move your points over to that site and vice versa. I found an old Christopher Lee movie for my husband on the dvd swap group so I just moved a point over there to get the movie. All you pay is shipping but you pay book rate so it’s usually about $2 for a book or $1 and change for movies. I believe they also have a CD site where you can do the same.

  10. 342 says:

    i cant every find a website to find my book any suggestions

  11. skylog says:

    i have always used amazon.com and have been happy. perhaps not the most, but certainly more than campus.

  12. Cindy says:

    What about really old textbooks? I’m cleaning out my parents’ house now and there are huge masters and phd-level textbooks in geography and nutrition science from my mother’s post-grad days back in the ’70s. Is there even any point in lookiing or should I just hope that the nice weekly recycle guys will take them?


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