i try it- selling my books!

9 12 2009

if you have ever attended college, there is a statistical likelihood that you are still toting around a number of cumbersome volumes from past classes that seemed important to hold on to at the time (the smart kids always sold theirs back right away)… but now are just weighing down your life with their uselessness.  sorry plutarch, i’m never going to want to read about the lives of noble greeks & romans again… and i most definitely am not going to be spending any time leafing through my old art history tomes (the hefty, dust-gathering bastards!).

i love books, i do, but it is important to me to make sure that my collection is a carefully curated grouping of things that i actually have enjoyed reading, want to read, or will use regularly as a reference.  everything else must go! despite my steadfast philosophy, i still somehow managed to move an entire box of books that i don’t need or want into my new condo. um, oops.  so i decided to see if i could make money getting rid of any of them:

1. first stop ebay. i had a few three investigators (my favorite juvenile serial detective series ever) lying around that i thought i could get a few bucks for.  and i was right! i sold a series of 11 for $34, and one very rare one for $35. and then i got eviscerated on the shipping. ebay has this thing where they are trying to keep shipping prices honest (great idea!)- but it makes it more difficult to set a fair shipping price without already having things boxed up,  measured & weighed- which i didn’t do in advance. bad move. i ended up charging $4 shipping for things that ended up being $8-$12 to ship. boo-urns. that’s a significant bite out of my already meager profits- not counting listing fees and ebay commissions… not great. unless you have a hot big-ticket item (or you’re doing ebay as a job), this definitely isn’t the easiest way to go. and for the love of god- prebox, weigh, & measure everything- it will save you big time!

2. next stop, local booksellers. there are 2 local bookshops in portland that buy books, cunningham & yes books. cunningham told me immediately that they were not taking books in the crankiest way possible. yes books however told me to bring my stuff down before 6 and we were good to go! i had a big box of old nancy drews, brains bentons, vintage hygiene books, and other random pretty nice stuff. toted my box into the store with high hopes, and after minutes of scrutiny, i left with most of my stuff, and $8. not so great. basically one step up from dropping things off at the goodwill.

3. third stop, goodwill. ok, this isn’t really a money making scheme, but after hauling all the books to the bookstore- only to have 90% them rejected for condition issues (or just didn’t want them), i couldn’t bear to bring them back in the house. i could have tried more places, or maybe listed them on craigslist, but the effort wasn’t worth it for just a few more dollars. i wanted them out!

4. final stop, valore books! this was the most fruitful and exciting part of my journey. i had a pile of old college text books that i knew that the used bookstores wouldn’t want, and i had read at some point that there were places online that would buy back your books and pay for shipping!! and they were right! there are actually a bunch of sites that do it: ecampus, bigwords, textbookbuyer… but i went with valore because they had been positively reviewed, and their website was easy to navigate. very simply, you type in the ISBN number into their search engine, select the condition of your book, and it will tell you roughly how much they will pay for it. it’s usually between $2 & $10 a book. not much, but worth it to get things out of your life that might have otherwise ended up at goodwill. there were a few books that they didn’t want, but it looked like i’d be getting around $32 bucks for the lot- and all i had to do was print out packing list and the FREE SHIPPING LABEL, slap it on a box, throw it in the mail, and wait for my check. and a month later, it arrived as promised, and was even for slightly more than i thought ($40!). sweet.

after all of the above trials and tribulations, i would most definitely use valore again (i might even start scoping for hot looking books at the goodwill to send back- why not, it’s free!), but would probably skip on ebay or selling locally unless i had something really special where going that route would maximize my $$$. however, i can not stress enough that the very best time to sell your textbooks is at your school bookstore- IMMEDIATELY AFTER YOUR CLASS IS OVER. unless you can look at it and really know that it will be a lifelong reference- dump it before it takes over your life!