What's the best way to sell used literary fiction books in one go (in Los Angeles)?
July 8, 2005 10:40 AM   Subscribe

What's the best way to sell used literary fiction books in one go in Los Angeles? I have ten cubic feet of used paperbacks ("word value only," as they say) that I'd like to dispense with, but with a minimal time investment. Any ideas? Some used bookstores are flat out not buying new books or offering trade credit only, and before I call every place in a twenty-mile radius, I thought MeFites out there in LA or elsewhere may have already tred the path. Is there something like WeBuyComics.com for books? My Google-fu turns up mostly pages about textbooks and rare books.
posted by symbebekos to Work & Money (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Even the used bookstores that are buying for cash will want to go through your pile and select only the ones that they don't already own, think they can sell easily, etc. For rapid disposal of large numbers of books, you might be better off donating them to Goodwill and taking the tax deduction.
posted by bac at 10:50 AM on July 8, 2005

I think I'd donate them, but you could consider selling as a lot (all of them together) on Ebay, no reserve. Get money, ship 'em off, you're done.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 11:32 AM on July 8, 2005

Disposing of paperbacks can be difficult, even at secondhand bookstores that stock a fair number of them (e.g., Acres of Books). Unless your books are truly in prime condition, with little to no signs of use, you might be better off following bac's advice and donating them--either to Goodwill or to a local library. Unless you're desperate for pocket change (and that's all you're likely to get for paperbacks), it would be a better financial bet to take the tax write-off.
posted by thomas j wise at 11:37 AM on July 8, 2005

Ebay... Ebay... If you have little extra time... sell them in serveral chunks. Sneak in few undesireable ones with desireable ones. This should yield more cash
posted by curiousleo at 11:38 AM on July 8, 2005

Every city should have a Book Thing, maybe you can start one in LA?
posted by Grod at 12:59 PM on July 8, 2005

Have a yard sale, or try to sell them on half.com. Donate them to a library.
posted by cass at 1:04 PM on July 8, 2005

Advertise them on bulletin boards in thrift shops and cafes. FOR SALE: STOCK TO START YOUR OWN USED BOOKSTORE. You'd be amazed the folks who will buy whole crates of interesting books at a time.
posted by junkbox at 2:03 PM on July 8, 2005

I've donated huge piles of books to the local library; they most likely end up sold at one of their fund raisers. I've also donated to the local St. Vincent de Paul store. If you want to spread your love of fiction, you might try Bookcrossing. When you register your book at the site, you get a registration number that you write on a downloadable bookmarker. You leave the book with the marker in a public place where someone can find it. Hopefully, the finder will go to Bookcrossing and update the journal you start for each book that you donate. Its kind of fun but a bit time consuming.
posted by Mekon at 2:32 PM on July 8, 2005

Is there a Veterans Hospital near you?
posted by Cranberry at 4:55 PM on July 8, 2005

I second the idea of giving them to a library, although the Bookcrossing thing sounds VERY cool.

I have taken boxes of books to our local library over the years- the ones that don't go on the shelf will be sold in the next library book sale, where they'll have a pretty decent chance of selling and making some money for the library system, which can probably use it.
posted by BoringPostcards at 7:43 PM on July 8, 2005

What kind of paperbacks are they? I work in a used bookstore and can tell you there's a pretty wide range of likely resale value, depending on what you're actually bringing in. Donating is great, but I assume from your lack of interest in trade credit that you'd like some cash. If that's the case, and they're the kind of paperbacks that sell quickly on the used market, you might be surprised at how fast you can accumulate a decent chunk of change at a used book store.

For instance, we can almost always use authors like Salinger, Faulkner, Vonnegut, Hemingway, Kerouac, Zora Neale Hurston, Hunter Thompson and the like. Sci-fi authors like Dick, Card, Goodkind and Pratchett, mystery writers like Evanovich and Rankin, popular fiction from the last 6 months to a year (Eric Jerome Dickey and Dan Brown, e.g.) also tend to sell quickly and are a good bet. If what you have, though, are Annie Proulx-type bestseller trade paperbacks from a couple of years ago - stuff like House of Sand and Fog, The Hours, etc. - you'll probably have less luck, since there are a ton of copies on the resale market already and the interest tends to fall off quickly once the movie goes to video and the awards start to collect dust. In that case, a donation for tax purposes might be your best bet, although I'd still recommend trying used stores first if money is at least partly on your mind.

Btw, don't discount trade credit so quickly, particularly if the stores you go to also sell other items, like CDs and DVDs. I've seen plenty of folks bring boxes of decent/so-so books to our store and walk out smiling with a stack of jazz CDs. Boxing them up (liquor boxes work best; they're the perfect size) and taking them to an area of town with a couple of used bookstores relatively close together isn't that big of a time investment, really. Some of us even find visiting bookstores kind of fun. ;)

To narrow things down, try asking for opinions about various stores and their buying policies on one of the LA newsgroups or mailing lists.
posted by mediareport at 10:04 PM on July 8, 2005

Oh, meant to include this: For paperbacks, most stores in this area pay around 10% of the cover price in cash, 15% in credit, or about $.60 to $1.50 per book ($1 to $2.50 trade), depending.
posted by mediareport at 10:16 PM on July 8, 2005

Just found an extensive list of Bookstores in the Los Angeles Area, broken down by neighborhood and including brief comments about each one. From the most recent rec.arts.books FAQ.
posted by mediareport at 10:37 PM on July 8, 2005

I've had good luck selling books on Amazon - it's really straightforward and easy. The caveats above (no Annie Proulx, etc) apply here too though...
posted by judith at 10:47 AM on July 9, 2005

« Older Invest a half-million   |   How can I heal my chapped lips? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.