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

Posted By timparker On 05/21/2012 @ 2:01 pm In Personal Finance | 20 Comments

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.


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