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View Full Version : I literally bought a truckload of books. Now what?



Deepthought
05-17-2015, 09:50 AM
There was an ad on Craigslist. A guy had bought stuff from a storage sale for the first time, and among the sweaters, cabinets of medical records (he said he would send them back), and medical equipment, there were books. Tons of them, of all kinds: textbooks, fantasy, how to's, religious stuff, etc. They were outside, lining the walls of his house in cardboard boxes and blue Ikea bags, and a few loose ones scattered about like shards of glass you find when you thought you had cleaned up as well as you possibly could after dropping a plate. He was asking $600. I contacted him and yes, he still had them, but someone had purchased a van full, so I could have the rest for $500. So I went over and checked them out and gave my dad the go-ahead to rent a Uhaul truck and bought them, what a bargain! There's a storage container like the ones they put on ships, which is where I'll unload them in my dad's shop (I just came back from getting them, actually) and store them until I can sell them (after keeping the good ones, of course :) ). I had to jump on the chance akin to a hyena leaping upon wounded prey, as the ad had been posted for a few hours and already some of my food had been taken by a mysterious man with a van.

I need to sell them but I don't know how to. I don't know how to value them, I don't know who to go to. I do have some experience in buying and reselling, but only on ebay and Craigslist, nothing on this scale. I was thinking of going on yelp and finding local bookstores and calling them to see if they wanted to buy inventory. Anyone here sold used books in bulk to anyone? Or...I could just read them...I guess...

William Haskins
05-17-2015, 09:59 AM
set up a kickstarter or some other source of crowdfunding. list a dozen or so charities, schools or jails/prisons that accept donations of books.

make the deal that for a $25 donation, you will donate 10 (or 15 or whatever) relevant books to the charity or institution of their choice from your list.

the $25 should provide plenty for shipping and a tidy profit for each batch.

or you could just read them.

Brightdreamer
05-17-2015, 10:03 AM
Sell? Heck no - build yourself a book fort!

I'd say go through them to pull ones you're likely to read, then piece them out to local bookstores. There are also places to donate books overseas, but you wouldn't get your money back on that.

Though if there's any mold, water damage, or issues like broken spines and such, just save everyone the time and recycle them. (Unless you know of any collectors, I'd think textbooks would go right in the bin, frankly...)

Deepthought
05-17-2015, 10:14 AM
That kickstarter idea sounds great, I never thought of anything like that.

I know a local charity I donate stuff to, I might pay them a visit sometime.

Textbooks become outdated so quickly (or else having minor edits and calling it a new edition = huge profit for companies) and so yeah, they gotta get recycled and turned into new textbooks.

Bolero
05-17-2015, 02:23 PM
That kickstarter idea sounds great, I never thought of anything like that.

I know a local charity I donate stuff to, I might pay them a visit sometime.

Textbooks become outdated so quickly (or else having minor edits and calling it a new edition = huge profit for companies) and so yeah, they gotta get recycled and turned into new textbooks.

Yes but - depends on the level of the text book. School maths, basic chemistry and the like stays good for a long time. First year university chemistry, especially basic organic, inorganic, analytical test and the like, they will also still have relevance. (Quantum mechanics, maybe less so....) Anatomy books - no expert but would think they'd have a relatively long shelf life. Before recycling you might want to ask a charity that sends books to third world schools - they might find them a lot better than nothing.

lance.schukies
05-17-2015, 05:45 PM
text books would be good for jails.

SianaBlackwood
05-17-2015, 05:49 PM
Reading party at Deepthought's house?

Jamesaritchie
05-17-2015, 07:54 PM
I don't think there's any good way of answering your question without going through the books. I've bought several hundred hardcover books at once, but I went through them, knew what each was worth, and whether it was a seller, a keeper, or a give awayer.

Some books are worth pennies, some are worth thousand of dollars. Textbooks can range from worthless, up to a hundred bucks or more. An old paperback can be worth a nickel, or it can be worth several hundred dollars.

Often, the best way to get any value out of ordinary books is to donate them to someplace like Goodwill, and take the tax write off.

Deepthought
05-17-2015, 09:06 PM
So, anything I can't sell, I'll try to donate before recycling.

I don't think I'll be able to look up the prices for each one. It took hours to just load them, and that was with me and five others. But I'll be going through each one, maybe looking up the price of a few hardcovers of niche stuff, as they would be more likely to hold value than the others. A lot of them are popular stuff and from well known authors, so they're easily sold but low value. I think.

cmhbob
05-17-2015, 10:49 PM
Love the idea of donating to a prison or jail library. I'm friends with a guy on Facebook who is a prison librarian. I'll reach out to him to see if he's got any pointers.

I know to send books to inmates directly, some states require that the books come directly from a publisher. But for a library, I'd doubt that's the case.

Pony.
05-18-2015, 12:26 AM
you could try taking some of the better condition books to a used book store like book-a-million and ask for an offer. they might take a fair few off your hands if theyre something they can resell.

jjdebenedictis
05-18-2015, 12:29 AM
Textbooks can be lucrative. There are companies/organizations that go around buying old textbooks, then finding the markets where they can resell them to students. Try googling "buy old textbooks back" and see if you can't find someone interested in grabbing some of what you've got. They sometimes have a local representative who will come to you to pick them up.

The first thing you'd need to do with a truckload of books is inventory them, at least in a very rough way, e.g. according to type/genre, condition, and then also titles and authors if you haven't already gone buggy from sorting books. I'd recommend getting competent in entering data in a spreadsheet or simple database program like MS Excel or Access, respectively, and then make yourself a template file.

Whatever books are in good shape can maybe go to second-hand bookstores, although you might want to check ahead of time whether they'll pay you in cash or with in-store credit. Also, I've had poor luck getting second-hand bookstores to accept anything other than pocketbooks, i.e. small paperbacks. (They wouldn't even take the larger trade paperbacks.) However, I would think you'd have a lot more luck selling a trade or hardcover book online, such as on eBay, especially if your price is good. Just check ahead with the post office about how much it will cost you to mail a book, so you can take that into account in your posting. (Sending stuff via "media mail" is really slow but very cheap.)

When it comes to selling things online, the best policy is just to be really honest about the state of the product and how soon the person can get it. If a book is dog-eared or water-damaged, say so and include a photo to show the problem. People are willing to buy something damaged as long as they know exactly what they're getting.

I love the idea of sending some of your can't-sell-it books to prisons, but another possibility is to list it on freecycle.org. This is only if you want to get rid of stuff for free. The person who answers your ad to say they want the item has to come to you to pick it up. (I've used freecycle for things like giving away a functional-but-butt-ugly dining set and an old microwave. All my interactions with people have been awesome! The person is usually so happy to be getting what they need for free.)

Oh! And the gift store of your local hospital might also appreciate donations of novels.

Fruitbat
05-18-2015, 01:52 AM
Fwiw, old books tend to have book mites. Whenever I get a used book I seal it inside a trash bag and put it in the freezer for a few days before it comes into the house.

Deepthought
05-18-2015, 05:14 AM
Great answers, thanks! I think I would have to spend hours each day for months to inventory them properly, so it would have to be a rough estimate. Perhaps by genre and recent stuff, and then see how many books per bag on average, and then percentagewise of each type in those? There are a ton of duplicates, and a lot of recent popular stuff. Most of them are in really good condition. But I need to figure out how to inventory it. Like jj said, using excel and sort by condition, genre, etc. I don't know if I can do it, it seems like ton of work. How much profit margin does an independent bookstore look for? Then I could calculate how much they would pay depending on the inventory. Because at this point, I don't know the value of this stuff at all, and I don't want to get ripped off of course. And I think I would also have to physically sort them out by type, as the markets are diverse. And I think that a lot of the textbooks still hold decent value, as I used some of them a little while ago myself.

Ugh. My hands are killing me, and my back is too. But I got some decent stuff out, although I didn't have time to go through most of it, as the truck had to be returned. But surprisingly, most of the stuff was high quality material.

Old Hack
05-18-2015, 10:29 AM
I have a barcode scanner, which I use to add the books I buy to LibraryThing. I suspect there's an app you could get for it now. If so, this would speed up your cataloguing efforts considerably, and you could add quick notes about the condition of your books as you go. It wouldn't take as long as you think.

Motley
05-18-2015, 05:26 PM
The others have given great ideas about how to sell or donate the books. I was going to mention that some of the used bookstores around me buy books by the pound, so it may be an easier way of offloading those that couldn't be sold individually and still get some money for them.

I have to say very jealous of your find as well. I would love nothing more than to have hundreds and thousands of books piled up in my living room for me to rifle through and read.

Jamesaritchie
05-18-2015, 06:36 PM
Fwiw, old books tend to have book mites. Whenever I get a used book I seal it inside a trash bag and put it in the freezer for a few days before it comes into the house.

I don't know about "tend to". They can have paper mites, but I love old books, and I've owned thousands of them. Paper mites have never been a problem.

But even if they were, I'd need a freezer the size of a Greyhound bus to hold half of them.

Deepthought
05-18-2015, 10:06 PM
I have a barcode scanner, which I use to add the books I buy to LibraryThing. I suspect there's an app you could get for it now. If so, this would speed up your cataloguing efforts considerably, and you could add quick notes about the condition of your books as you go. It wouldn't take as long as you think.
That would help, cheers!

The others have given great ideas about how to sell or donate the books. I was going to mention that some of the used bookstores around me by books by the pound, so it may be an easier way of offloading those that couldn't be sold individually and still get some money for them.

I have to say very jealous of your find as well. I would love nothing more than to have hundreds and thousands of books piled up in my living room for me to rifle through and read.
Tens of thousands, actually. My muscles are killing me. And I have a kickboxing class in the evening, hope I don't get beat up...

I don't know about "tend to". They can have paper mites, but I love old books, and I've owned thousands of them. Paper mites have never been a problem.

But even if they were, I'd need a freezer the size of a Greyhound bus to hold half of them.
Never been a problem for me either, those frozen microwaveable mites are great and convenient. Dinner and entertainment in one. Puts a new meaning on Hunger Games​.

SBibb
05-19-2015, 02:14 AM
You might look at Hastings if you have one in the area, and depending on the quality of the books. I know they buy used books (fiction, at least), since I tend to pick up several used books from there.

Deepthought
05-19-2015, 05:27 AM
You might look at Hastings if you have one in the area, and depending on the quality of the books. I know they buy used books (fiction, at least), since I tend to pick up several used books from there.
Well, looking at the store locator, the nearest one is nearly 800 miles away :( But I'm thinking of trying yelp and calling some bookstores for now.

SBibb
05-21-2015, 04:34 AM
Well, looking at the store locator, the nearest one is nearly 800 miles away :( But I'm thinking of trying yelp and calling some bookstores for now.

Well, that does put a damper on selling them there. But good luck with getting a hold of the other book stores. :-)

EDIT: You might also look at Amazon's textbook buyback program. Haven't used it myself, so I'm not sure of the particulars, but you might find something there.