Confession: I am a book hoarder.
If just owning a book could put the information into your head, I would be incredibly brilliant. To be honest, there are quite a few books on my bookshelf that I may never read – because they are boring as all get out. But, ya know, I thought I should read them.
There are a bunch of old text books and reference books that I like to think I’ll use again… someday.
There’s also a bunch of fiction books I loved and figured I’d reread – only to have them sit on that self without being touched for years.
Sometimes I manifest some intense hoarder tendencies. And other times, everything’s just got to go.
So I just applied the “got to go” mentality to my bookshelf, made a nice $100.26 and cleared out a lot of clutter.
It broke down to:
Let’s get one thing straight though, this was a time consuming project. There are lots of great posts about whether or not whatever you’re doing to make money is actually worth it – this is arguably not for everyone.
But me? I have a lot of free time on my hands these days. The entire project probably took about 10 hours. And let’s be honest, I would’ve otherwise spent those hours watching Orphan Black or Pretty Little Liars, so it’s not exactly as though I was going to do something better with my time.
I started by raiding my bookshelves. There were a few survivors, but I winnowed it down from 7 overstuffed shelves to three.
Then I listed each ISBN number in Book Scouter. This is a great website that goes through all the different companies that buy back books and tells you which ones will purchase the book you are trying to get rid of and how much they’ll offer you.
A lot of books I entered – no one wanted. So that was awesome.
But when a book store did pop up, I would throw that book in a pile for each different store. I did this with all the books and then had to go back to each store’s individual website and start from scratch, entering the entire pile of books.
A really important thing to remember is that each company has a minimum book order. The most popular minimum that you had to reach was $10, but SellBackYourBook is only $5 and Powell’s is a whopping $50, but if your order comes out to less than that, they have a flat rate $3.99 shipping fee that will be deducted from your order.
Different books also seemed to find different niches. It’s a lot easier to sell non-fiction and textbooks, but I found Powell’s accepted a lot of my fiction. They took titles like Everythings Eventual and Mr. Mercedes (Stephen King) and His Dark Materials.
K-12 Book Buyer took a lot of my old seminary texts, which was cool since a lot of other companies did not appear to have any interest in Christian religious texts. It also took my old Greek textbooks, complete with super outdated CD-ROMs. Additionally, the price per book that they actually took was pretty decent. The average was $3.00.
SellBackYourBook was great for other religious texts, as long as they weren’t Christian, and other instructive books like Latin, how to use WordPress and Tarot cards. It also had some of the highest per book prices and that awesome $5 minimum for free shipping that I mentioned above.
Textbooks.com definitely took the most books, but averaged around $1.00 per book. It was also one of the few that took scripts – it took a ton of scripts, and several paid better than full books. I guess college theater professors are still assigning How I Learned to Drive and Raisin in the Sun pretty often in their classes.
To package up all these books, I stopped by the local liquor store and asked for some free boxes, so it was pretty simple to do. It cost me a little packing tape and a little more time to drag the boxes down to the post office. Supposedly, you can even arrange for the post man to just pick up the boxes at your home, but I haven’t mastered that yet.
In case you’re wondering, the best selling book I managed to get rid of was with SellBackYourBook.
August Wilson: Three Plays for $5.15
I’m surprised as you are. That was super random to me.
A close-ish second was an Interlinear NASB-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English for $4.24, that was only like a whopping $45 back when I had to get it for school.
The lowest book on the list? Also at SellBackYourBook.
T.S. Eliot’s Selected Poems for $.23. Sorry, T.S.
After exhausting the book buyback sites, I mulled over my remaining collection of books and started grouping them into themes – motivational books, personal finance books, plays and scripts, etc. and listed them on eBay in lots at .99 each. I also had the complete Narnia set and a few individual books that I decided to list to see what happened.
The listings on eBay took quite a while, because I wanted to include enough information for anyone interested to know what they were buying. This included hunting down descriptions of each book in each lot online and copy and pasting it into the listing.
Most of my generic lots sold, but only at .99 each – which does indeed get them off my bookshelf, so there’s that.
The Narnia set actually did pretty well, coming in as the highest item I managed to sell off at $10.50. I was surprised that Freakonomics netted a whopping $4.25, especially after none of the book buy back websites wanted it, and Love Wins brought in $2.34.
I actually listed one book as “The Worst Book Ever” – because it is. It’s called When the Angels Have Risen and it is just the worst. Seriously, here’s the description:
Alien Encounter Changes Course of Man’s Life and Starts a Modern American Revolution.
Las Vegas – It seems with each election year, the United States becomes more and more bitterly divided, particularly when religion is thrown into the debate.
Jerry Fletcher is a down-on-his luck man from Los Angeles who, after unpleasant clashes with government suits and contemptuous authorities, has become decidedly bitter against the establishment. He relocates to Las Vegas to start a new life and, after a year of living in the City of Sin, he takes off on a hiking trip with some of his co-workers. During the trip, he is mysteriously transported to an alien spaceship.
On board, he meets an otherworldly being named Yoshu’ah, who confides that many of the Judeo-Christian teachings were actually provided by the alien angels. In addition, Fletcher learns that an alien war has been waged for thousands of years for control of Earth. The aliens send him home to explain his new knowledge, and the previously apathetic man assumes the enormous challenge of spreading this important message.
When the government catches on to Fletcher’s plans, they attempt to stop him. However, unexpected allies step-in to help. Kelly, a news-reporter protects Fletcher while setting the stage for his earth-shattering speech. Although their relationship is initially love-hate, sparks soon fly and romance rises from the flames.
A creative tale of unrest laced with humor and critical thinking of contemporary American politics, When The Angels Have Risen is perfect for anyone who has ever questioned the government’s agenda.
I’d read before that unusual and amusing listings sometimes do really well – and it worked for me once years ago when I sold a ceramic pig collection. That listing definitely had the most hits, but no one was willing to bite the bullet and pay .99 to see if it really is the worst book ever (it is. IT IS).
Finally, in an effort to finish decluttering my room, I threw the rest of the paperbacks into a bag and dragged them down to our local Book Trader. If you’re an avid reader, it might be worth looking into seeing if there’s one in your city to save money. When I was a kid, I lived at the Book Trader. You take in your paperbacks, like 20 at a time, and you wind up with a credit you could use towards books.
I guess the owners found this to not be the most sustainable business model, because in the 10-15 years since I was last in the Book Trader, you can now use that credit for 80% of any book purchases, so I wound up paying about $3.00 for two new books. But I got rid of 20, so all in all, I wasn’t upset.