Hi Lifehacker, Are there any good ways of selling old books online? I tried AbeBooks who have a buyback program but they weren't interested in most of my books. They did offer to buy one, but only for 30 cents. Thanks, Overbooked
Picture by Thomas Abbs
Your experience to date has already highlighted two of the more depressing aspects of trying to sell books online: there's essentially an oversupply, and you won't make a lot of money doing it in most cases. In part, this is because fierce competition in the sale of new books means that the price for second-hand options has necessarily been depressed. Add in the ability to search the globe for second-hand titles and it's no wonder the prices aren't particularly generous.
The one area where you can more easily make money is with books that are relatively expensive in the first place and/or relatively rare. One market where this is fairly common is university textbooks, which is why the market for them online is a little more vibrant. Indeed, if you check out the AbeBooks buyback service you mentioned, you'll notice it has a very heavy emphasis on textbooks.
Of course, there's nothing to stop you listing the books yourself on eBay, the Trading Post or any other online auction site. However, it pays to do a little research first so you can set a realistic price. Use eBay's advanced search options to check past sales, and make sure you look at international sales.
In practice, what you'll probably find is that you've got a couple of titles where demand is high enough to get a decent price, and a bunch which won't sell at all, or will only do so for sub-dollar amounts. With genre fiction, you'll often find people selling bundles of books by the same author. You'll have to decide for yourself if the effort of listing is worth the eventual return.
This is definitely a question where we'd welcome reader input, so if you've got a suggestion for a good place to sell books online, share it in the comments.
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