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July 17, 2009

Money Smarts: Thinning the Book Herd with Half Price Books

Let me start with a bit of a confession: I'm a total book nerd.

I have a degree in English (I switched after spending two years as a pre-med) and I have the book collection to show for it. Not only did I keep almost all of my books from college (the resale values at my University bookstore were laughable), but I've accumulated even more books over the several years since I graduated from Maryland.

Add to my own love of books the fact that my husband loves books, too, and you can guess (quite correctly) that we've got quite a herd of books that we've moved from home to home (six moves in total). In fact, when the movers came to pack us out for our last move, one of them walked into our home office and said, "Holy Shnikes*! Look at all the books!"

We've been in our current home for a little over two years and I haven't yet unpacked our books; the sad truth is that I simply have too many and no adequate storage for all of them.

It was time, my friends, to thin the herd; see?

That's about 130 books all bagged up in the back of my van. Mind you, I have about FOUR times that many books (four big boxes; I started with six) still in my basement waiting for the loving embrace of new bookcases. Those other four boxes are filled with books to which I just couldn't say goodbye; the ones in my van, I was ready to send back into the world so I hustled down to Half Price Books last night to sell them.

Selling your books (or CDs, DVDs, etc) at Half Price Books is pretty straightforward; you bring all of your books to the Buy desk in-store and they take your name and tell you that they'll call you over the intercom when your offer is ready. The offer is a one-shot deal: one cash offer for ALL the books, etc, that you've brought in to sell and it is a take-it-or-leave-it offer. There is no negotiating. For more details on how to sell your books, etc, at Half Price Books, click here for the HPB guidelines.

Once you accept your offer, HPB check's your Driver's License (to make sure you really are the book nerd you make yourself out to be, I suppose) and has you sign a little receipt agreeing to the terms of your sale. Then you're given another receipt that's redeemable at the register for the cash value of your offer; you can either just redeem it and walk out of the store with the cash in your pocket or you can use the value of your cash offer toward the purchase of more books, etc, from the store.

My books sold for a total of $50, a price that was about what I was expecting given my experiences reselling books at my University bookstore oh so many years ago. I *cough* supported the local economy by buying a few new books (four for the kiddos, one for me) and still walked out the door with a nice chunk of cash for my time.

Can you make tons of money reselling your books, CDs, DVDs? No, but you can declutter your house and get a few bucks in the process, a win-win in my book (forgive the pun!).

If you don't have a Half Price Books store near you (their store locator is here), you can try selling your books online through eBay or with a seller's account at Amazon; I don't have any personal experience with selling books online so I can't speak to either of those methods. And if you just want to get rid of those books and get your clutter under control, you can always just donate them to you local library, your child's school library, or any number or charitable organizations like Goodwill or St. Vincent de Paul.

Have you resold books, etc, at Half Price Books or elsewhere or online? What tips do you have? Share what you know in a comment below!

*He actually said something much more colorful!

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  1. We've sold a few on eBay, but you have to research ahead of time to see if it's worth your time or not. If you go to the Advanced Search, you can select items whose auctions have ended. You can see what sold and how much it sold for. We also check to see how many of the same title are currently listed. If there are too many, there won't be a demand for our book. We do this just to save ourselves from having to deal with auctions that end for $.99!

  2. Half.com (ebay's used book/cd/dvd/game site) has worked pretty well for me, and the best has been paperbackswap.com (and swapacd.com). You don't make any money using it, but you can get lots of great free books, plus you can order a free book after you've posted 10 books for trading. All you ever pay is postage.

  3. I always turn in my magazines at Half Price Books after I read them too. Most of my magazines come by "Free subscriptions." After I read them all I turn them in and earn a few dollars!

  4. It never occured to me that you could sell your books! We have a TON in our basement.

  5. Just to make you feel a little better about your book situation.... we gave our books their own room. We have 10 tall 5 shelf book cases int here. All full of books. Some double stacked. And we have to short book cases in our bedroom. My DD has a shelf of books in her bedroom and my boys have about 4 shelves of books in their bedroom.

    And I have moved all of these books 4 times in the past 3 1/2 years. And gotten rid of boxes full to paperback swap and by giving them away and selling at yard sales. What we have left are just the ones we love too much to get rid of! LOL


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