Selling a large CD collection the right way
July 22, 2009 2:25 PM   Subscribe

I want to sell my large CD collection. But what's the best way to do it without getting horribly screwed?

So I've got ... around 1000 CD's I want to sell. They've been sitting in boxes for a few years, and they're just taking up space. Time for them to go. Years ago, I started buying the things I wanted to keep around on vinyl, and I'll keep the few rare/sentimental things, and that will be that.

But the problem I'm running up on is the best way to do it. I know full well going in that there is no chance in hell of getting near what I put in back. Unfortunately, the days of going to a used CD store and lugging in box after box so some college kid could pay you between 2 and 4 bucks per disc are over (that college kid used to be me, 10 years ago, when I worked in a used record store). Those places around here are all closed, or they only pay in store credit. Pawn shops are right out. Keeping them, in binder form or anywhere else, is right out.

I'd like to maximize return with medium effort put in. So what's the best way to do this? Catalog them all, put them on eBay as a lot or individually? Craigslist? Alternatively, would you know of a place in Houston/Dallas/Austin that purchases lots and won't insult you with a price (25 cents per CD is right out - I would have to pay for the drive over).

Hints? Experiences? Ideas? Suggestions?
posted by kuperman to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Damn if I can't search.
posted by kuperman at 2:31 PM on July 22, 2009

Response by poster: (That one does contain some good info but I think this might need a bit more).
posted by kuperman at 2:34 PM on July 22, 2009

The best way I've found to get the most per CD is to list them individually on This will be time-consuming with the number of CDs you have, though, and you won't know for sure when they'll sell.
posted by Polychrome at 2:35 PM on July 22, 2009

What I did when I sold my collection (about 1500) a couple of years ago was work with CD trading boards. There's a ton of them, for different genres and the like - mine was mostly industrial, electronica, metal, avant-whatever, etc. I drafted up an excel sheet with all the albums, as well as the condition they were in (with case, without, light scratches, blah blah), and posted the catalog along with offers to buy at five bucks a CD, ten for multi-disc albums, etc. After about half the collection was sold via individual orders (most people on those boards will buy 10-20 cds at a time) and the new requests were slowing down, I offered up a bulk sale of whatever was left in a week for something like 2.50 a cd, all or nothing - this spurred people to make more individual orders at 5 bucks per disc, and found a buyer willing to sweep up the remainders for something like 600 dollars.

Now granted, there was a bunch of paperwork to deal with - tracking what orders come in when, keeping paypal stuff sorted, etc, but it definitely cleared out a pile of CDs and got me a couple grand for my effort (and massive amount of money previously spent on the same CDs).
posted by FatherDagon at 2:48 PM on July 22, 2009 [2 favorites]

You didn't mention the music genre of your CDs. If you can locate online companies that sell used CDs in your genre, they might be a good buyer for your collection. The one experience I have doing this, we submitted a list of those we wanted to sell and they made a very fair offer that was higher than we could have gotten on eBay and vastly less hassle when all was said and done.
posted by DrGail at 2:49 PM on July 22, 2009

When I was in a similar situation recently I approached it this way:

1. Do a completed items search on eBay for as many individual titles as you can. It actually doesn't take long and I am constantly surprised by what will collectors will pay for out-of-print or hard to find titles. The marketplace section of is also an excellent way to gauge the value of titles. eBay is a great place to monetize your collection but due to the cost of selling and headache of shipping, I would only list titles where you can get at least 10 bucks. IMHO.
2. Make a list of everything left over and contact local used record stores with it. If it's not stuff that was in everyone's collection back when it was new (the Spin Doctors first record, for example) you may be able to get some value out of it. Even store credit is better than a bunch of boxes collecting dust in the basement.
3. Turn to Craigslist as a last resort. Expect to get nothing but headaches.
4. Donate to a local charity.

If you're lucky, about 5% of your collection will be insanely valuable and the rest will net you about a quarter apiece, if anything.

All this is dependant on condition. If it's not in mint condition, proceed immediately to step 4.

Other people may be able to offer advice on Gemm or but I've never used them.

Good luck!
posted by monkeymike at 3:16 PM on July 22, 2009

Those places around here are all closed, or they only pay in store credit.
Could you sell them for store credit, then sell the store credit to someone else for a little less?

For example, the store gives you $100 in store credit for your CDs. You give some guy $100 in store credit for $90.
posted by Flunkie at 3:18 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

The biggest piece of CD-selling wisdom, I think, is that you'll get out of what you put into it. Figure out how much money you want to get out of this, or figure out how much time you're willing to put into it. After that, you can decide on the best strategy.
posted by box at 3:22 PM on July 22, 2009

Ditto box: there are plenty of avenues for selling, but the returns usually depend on how much time you put into it, and how much patience you have.

If you're looking for a higher return and you have a lot of patience, try They only charge 6% commission and $0.10 minimum vs.'s rates or's fees. Discogs is best known for electronic music, but it is a database of any and all recorded audio, with an associated marketplace for those items.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:08 PM on July 22, 2009

I sold all my CDs on eBay a few years ago. It took a few days of work, but it payed off in the end. I think I averaged about 5 dollars a CD. I bought all the packaging material I would need on eBay (which kept cost down considerably). I sorted all my CDs into categories based on condition. I had a basic template I would paste into each listing, describing the fact that I was selling my collection and about the different categories. Stock images were available for most CDs. It took about a minute per CD to post. I split them up into about a hundred a day. Then waited a week. Then had about a hundred a day to package and mail. Packaging and addressing an envelope takes about a minute. Postage would be the same on most packages (same weight, same dimensions) -- so you can buy that ahead of time.
posted by whiskeyspider at 4:10 PM on July 22, 2009

Personally, I would list the rare/valuable stuff on Ebay, and then list everything else on Amazon,, and/or Gemm for a bit less than the current lowest price. This strategy is a lot of work up-front, and it does assume that you know roughly what your stuff is worth, but I think it'll provide the largest return over time.

In particular, the shipping allowance from Amazon might add up to some decent profit if you send a few hundred discs in 20-cent mailers via First-Class mail (the total cost to ship one CD with mailer is around $1.50; Amazon gives you $2.98 per CD to ship it. Thus, assuming you can sell 'em for $3 or more, you'll end up with at least $2 after shipping and Amazon fees). There's an Amazon fee calculator here which might help you figure out whether it'll be worth it.

However, you said you wanted to minimize work, so I'd suggest putting the rare/valuable items as individual discs on Ebay, and everything else as 50 or 100 CD lots (at $2 per CD) on Ebay or Craigslist. You might also consider having a yard sale or flea market day. Around here there are a lot of people who spread their stuff out by the highway during the weekends; if that sort of thing is tolerated where you are, you might be able to sell many of them at a decent price (I'd suggest "$5 per disc or 5 discs for $20" to start, dropping to $2 per disc and 6 for $10 in the evening) and then unload the rest in lots via Craigslist.
posted by vorfeed at 4:17 PM on July 22, 2009

I just took everything to a local place called Half Price Books (there are a bunch throughout the US I think). My opinion on the matter was that while I got less than I perhaps could have, the amount of effort I would have to invest for an unknown return was not worth it to me. I had well over 1000 cds just collecting dust.. it was something I never used anymore and likely never would. Any return on something that had an effective subjective value of 0 to me was good enough.

posted by zennoshinjou at 5:45 AM on July 23, 2009

There are 4 HPB's in Austin.
posted by zennoshinjou at 5:46 AM on July 23, 2009

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