Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Musings... Adventures in Selling Used Books

Whoever said that you can't put a price on knowledge probably never tried to sell their used books.

I've been purging unused and unwanted possessions over the past year. It finally came time to attack my collection of books a short while ago. Between college and a half-year working at a place that required a very long commute, I accumulated a large number of books, most of which were non-fiction.

The textbooks were a lost cause, so I didn't even bother with trying to sell them. To be honest, there was a desire to keep some of them for future reference. All the other non-fiction books seemed pretty general and good for casual reading to me though. I thought I could sell them for about 50% of what I originally paid and maybe work it down to 25% if they sat around for too long.

Ebay and Craigslist appeared to be the best tools to get rid of my books. However, after shipping costs and other fees, it didn't look like I'd make much of anything using Ebay. That left Craigslist.

Let's try Craigslist first
The first listing on Craigslist was posted with photos of the covers and spines. I actually managed to sell off two within a week and felt encouraged. Then weeks went by without a single inquiry. The prices were cut substantially over that time. Some books that I paid $20 for were being listed for $5 or less. Nothing moved.

It became obvious that the only reason the first two books moved was because they were being sold for around 25% of their original price and my newest books. My other guess was that they were textbooks or common introductory books for fairly hot career fields.

Are these going to the landfill?
After a month or so, I just wanted the books gone. What I wanted most was to clear space, the money wasn't really that important. I read over 90% of those books from cover to cover so got my money's worth already.

Googling suggested that there was a local store that bought used books and DVDs. This was an amazing find at the time. I thought I could finally get rid of all my unwanted books and DVDs in one go. It was a bit scary going to a store I'd never been to in order to "pawn" a bunch of my belongings, but it happened.

The first trip involved me taking most of my DVDs and a couple books in two bags. That was a sweaty hike that ended first in disappointment, then in a lot of hope. All of my DVDs were rejected. They didn't want them, not even for a low-ball offer. However, the books went for a very low but acceptable price. I made another few trips and got rid of almost all of my books with only a few rejections. It wasn't easy but a large portion of my books were gone in a day. That still left a dozen or so books though.

The Rejects
Looks like the rejects are going to be donated and probably trashed by the recipient. I'll probably list them on Craigslist for a while longer, but I foresee them ending up in a trash can somewhere. Note to self: do not buy books anymore unless they're in electronic form. Or get an audio book.

And the price of knowledge looked to me to be about $3 per book.

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