Selling 3,000 used books

How to Sell Used Books

Selling Used Books?

We are moving from a 2100-square-foot house to a 700-square-foot condo. Yikes! I have over 3,000 books that I can't take with me. I tried a yard sale, but folks don't want to pay even $1 for brand new books. I hate to donate all these books. One library I contacted wasn't interested at all, unless the books were less than a year old! What can I do? I don't want to make a fortune or even break even. I'd just like to find these books a good home for a decent price.

Troop Support

While searching for a way to support our troops overseas (I grew up as an Army brat, so I guess that's one reason I'm pretty patriotic), I came across a great organization called "Operation Paperback." It's a non-profit organization that coordinates the shipment of gently-used, recycled paperbacks to servicemen and women overseas.

Often, our soldiers are stationed in places where they don't have many options for recreation. Reading is a safe and available "escape" to pass the hours. I asked members of my alumnae club to search their bookshelves for paperbacks to donate, but one could easily do the same with a local church, PTA or neighborhood group. Perhaps, you could even ask for shipping donations. The organization makes it easy to label and mail. Even better, I could ship via book rate to APO/FPO addresses that are billed as "domestic." Last Saturday, I sent eight boxes of books (about 180 titles) for only $50! It's a great way to help the troops without a huge amount of cash. You can reach the organization at
Glenda W.

Donate to a Shelter

You could donate the books to a local homeless shelter or battered women's shelter. Depending on the age appropriateness of the books, you could also donate some to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Host a Book Sale

You should be able to get a garage sale rate for placing an ad in your local paper's classified section. More interest will be generated if you include the price. For instance, advertise "Nothing over $2."

Contact Local Friends of the Library

The Friends of the Library will be happy to take your books as a donation. All public libraries usually have a Friends of the Library organization that you may contact. Some of your books may go into their Silent Auction to raise money for the children's programs inside the library that they are supporting. Your donation is tax deductible and a receipt will be given to you.

Help Victims of Natural Disasters

Perhaps a library in one of the hurricane-ravaged towns could use your books. We had a tornado move through our area in 2004 and several towns were happy to have donated books of any kind in order to get their libraries open again.

Sell on Internet

You probably don't have the time to list the books individually on eBay or, but maybe you could post them in lots. For example, package together a set of books by the same author or in the same genre, and put them up for sale on eBay. Or, there are many groups on where people post garage sale items. Simply do a search for "garage sale" or "for sale" and you should be able to find some. You can post the book lots on those groups as well.

You can also see if you have a Cheapcycle in your area. In our area, we have a local Freecycle and a local Cheapcycle (both on Yahoo groups). If you don't want to give the books away, post them for sale on Cheapcycle.

Sell to Homeschool Families

If you have any textbooks, craft books, historical novels or autobiographies, you might want to see if there is a homeschool support group in your area and put ad in their newspaper. Homeschoolers are always on the lookout for books.

Happy with Amazon

I sell all of my books that I don't want to keep on Amazon, and I've sold hundreds of books successfully. I prefer Amazon as shoppers on Amazon buy more books than any other type of item because this is what Amazon built their core business around. Online book buyers know to check Amazon first. Usually, the prices are better than retail store sites that have brick and mortar buildings.

When you go to, you have the ability to type in an author or title of the book. In seconds, you can see if Amazon has the item in stock and how many used items of the same are for sale from other retailers or book lovers. Check the prices of the used items and this will help you determine a fair price, making sure you note the condition of each book for sale.

Make sure you note the condition of the book accurately in the description when you list your book. If you are a non-smoker and the books are in a home that doesn't smell like cigars or cigarettes, note that. People who buy used books on Amazon, look for well-cared-for books. After all, if the book smells, how are you going to enjoy the reading experience?

Also, Amazon incorporates an automatic shipping charge that is credited to your account. If you want to give the book a home, the shipping price and your asking price should easily total below what Amazon charges to get rid of the item more quickly.

If you mail the books by media mail, you stand to make the most money. Buy a cheap scale from any office supply store and you will be able to calculate the exact cost of shipping without over-paying the postal service. Plus, you can anticipate the shipping costs of heavy books and factor that into your asking price.

To reduce your shipping prices, rather than boxing most books, I wrap them in cheap plastic wrap and buy end rolls of butcher paper from my local grocery store. If no butcher paper is available, newspaper printers have end rolls of paper. Or save the paper bags that you get at any local convenience store or grocery store to further reduce the costs you pay to ship the items.

If you truly want to get rid of the books, make sure you price the books lower than those on the used sites. If you have a limited edition or something special, make sure to note the special feature and simply ask for more money than the official Amazon release and you can recoup additional costs you incurred when you purchased the book. If you want a premium price, you may wait a little longer, but you will definitely make more money using Amazon than you will at a brick and mortar retailer or a garage sale because of the space involved in displaying the books.
Denise M. in Fort Dodge, IA

Sell Books to Used Bookstores

I often sell books to the used bookstores in our area. They offer cash or you can accept store credit (usually at a higher rate). I would call the ones in your area and ask about the policies for accepting books and possibly make an appointment since you have such a large quantity.

Another thing to consider would to donate some of the books to the literacy programs in your area. Just remember to get a receipt for all donated items, so you can use it as a tax deduction if you itemize.

Check Out These Creative Solutions

If there are older books with bindings in good condition, it could be worthwhile to sort them into lots according to size, color, design, etc. and offer them as decorator accessories to interior designers.

Using a local "penny-saver" publication that gives free ad space, the reader could also sort into smaller lots according to topic and possibly sell to avid readers on specific subjects.

Understanding the desire to get a small return on the collection, the reader might reconsider donating some portion of the books just to pare down to a more manageable size. Places like veteran's homes, state prisons, youth or senior centers and residential care facilities would love to have donated books.

Another option is to register and release books through It's fun to watch where the books go after they leave our hands. Donating may not get the money in hand, but is an excellent way to pass on the pleasure of reading to those who truly appreciate it.
Barbara in Union, Maine

Give Books to Teachers

Check with teacher friends. If any of Mary's books are on topics of study, a classroom teacher may want some for his or her classroom library.

Benefit Your New Home

If your condo has a Clubhouse, you can ask if you can donate your books to their library or start one of your own. I am sure many residents will enjoy free books to read.

Consider Trading Online

I use an online book-trading site called, and even though they are called Paperback Swap, they do take hardcover books, too. It's a great way to read a lot of books without having to buy them, and they are continually circulated around the country.

Take the Next Step:

Share your thoughts about this article with the editor: Click Here

Stay Connected with TDS

Little Luxuries

to any newsletter and get a copy
of our ebook
Little Luxuries:
130 Ways to Live Better...For Less
for FREE!

The Dollar Stretcher
Dollar Stretcher Parents
Dollar Stretcher Tips
The Computer Lady

Your Email:

View the TDS Privacy Policy.

Get Out of Debt