How to Sell a Book Collection

Written by carolyn enright
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How to Sell a Book Collection
Selling your old books can free up space and bring in cash (Books image by JenJen from

Your home library is overflowing with your books, your kids' books, your spouse's books — and you'd like to get rid of the clutter and make some cash. Whether you are housing a hodgepodge collection of adult fiction, cookbooks and children's books, or you have the entire "Harry Potter" series in hardcover, you can sell your books for cash. From the corner bookshop to the Internet, you can find a buyer for your books.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Sort your books by condition. Books you plan on selling should be in good condition. Don't sell books that are old, stained, torn, have missing pages or are beat up. (The exception is rare books. Valuable collector's or first editions, even in less than stellar condition, may still bring a good price.)

  2. 2

    Sell your books by collection or individually. If you have the complete collection of Shakespeare in hardcover, sell it as a collection. If your books fall into broad categories such as children's books or historical fiction, selling them individually may be more profitable.

  3. 3

    Contact your local used bookstore and ask the owner if she is interested in buying any of your books. You can expect a bookshop owner to offer 10 to 30 per cent of what she expects to get for your books. Remember that bookstore owners want items they can sell quickly and for a decent profit.

  4. 4

    Sell your collection on Amazon or eBay. Set your price by searching your book's title or collection. Price your books either at or just below the going rate. Amazon has no upfront listing fee, but charges a 15 per cent commission and a small per-item fee; eBay charges a listing fee and a percentage of the final sale, but you can sell your books on auction. If you have a "hot" item, this may be more profitable.

  5. 5

    Sell your books to Powell's Books or AbeBooks. Go to their websites, and enter the ISBN numbers of the books you want to sell. These sites will tell you what they will buy and how much they will pay. Once you accept the offer, you ship the books and you receive payment. If you want to sell textbooks, check out TextbooksRus or BigWords.

  6. 6

    Host a garage sale. Arrange your books with prices ranging from 60p to £3, or less for worn paperbacks and magazines. Lower your expectations for making a lot of money; garage sale shoppers are the ultimate bargain hunters.

Tips and warnings

  • Donate any books you cannot sell to your local library or favourite charity. You may even get a tax deduction.
  • Some booksellers are pickier than others when it comes to the condition of the books. If one source won't buy your books, check out another.
  • Save on shipping by listing collections with little value as a single item on eBay.
  • Many people go to Amazon to buy new books, but Amazon lists used books alongside new listings. This may make it easier to sell your used books.
  • Buyers expect good deals online. You may not get the price you want.
  • If you sell one or two books of a valuable collection, you may hurt the overall value of the collection.

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