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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Decluttering Books for a bit of Profit at Powells and Barnes and Noble

Have I confessed to my clutter problem? It has been a lifelong affliction. My mother, who came to the United States as a refugee, can donate things to Goodwill with wild abandon. That includes a real Pucci dress from the 60s, EVEN AFTER I TOLD HER NOT TO. My late father was even worse than I am. In addition to stockpiling pieces of cardboard and metal, he refused to get rid of a chandelier from the 60s, even after Christie's told my brother it was worthless. It turned out to be a famous chandelier and ended up being bought by a dealer for $6,000.00.

Very little turns out to have any worth at all, much less the worth of the two above items. I get my clutterbughood through my father's line. It was exacerbated by years of graduate school poverty, followed by insecure working situations, aided by a love of books and thrift stores. All in all, a lethal cocktail.

But we are having visitors in a month. I looked at Flylady a while ago, but that site itself has succumbed to clutter. Anyway, it's not like I don't know what I need to do.

In addition to the True Confessions mode here, I actually have a useful tip for getting rid of books. And it is one that I haven't seen mentioned anywhere.

Yes, you can sell on Amazon or on Half.com. Indeed, I would check the value of books on these sites before doing anything else with them. But most books aren't worth much. Ebay is even worse for booksellers.

Then you can swap via paperbackswap.com or other similar sites. This technique, however, retains your clutter till someone requests your book. Then you have to mail it. This is lifestyle clutter.

Yard sales are so gruesome that I won't say another word.

You can also trade at local used bookstores if any are in your town. I would do this if there were a bookstore fitting my reading tastes around here. I love the people who run the local used bookstore, but its stock tends to romance and popular fiction. I already have $100.00 in credit and can seldom find anything I want.

OK. Are there any immediate ways to get rid of books and get a little something back? Yes! While all of the above have been mentioned across the blogosphere, I haven't seen anything on Barnes and Noble or Powells.

Barnes and Noble will buy your used textbooks. "But I don't have any textbooks." Do you have a copy of The Kiterunner? That's worth $3.05. Or how about that old Penguin Three Theban Plays by Sophocles? We had three of those. They are worth $2.40. In other words, a textbook is a book used as a text.

All you have to do is go to the site, click on textbooks, click on sell your used textbooks, put in the isbn and see what pops up. Often it's nothing, but every now and then a book is worth something. When you get to $10.00 or more, you put the books in a box, print out the prepaid shipping label and packing list, and take to the post office. Prepaid shipping label--you don't pay the postage. After a while, you will get a check.

Powells, the famous independent bookstore, does much the same, only you have a choice between Paypal and virtual credit that can be used for any of its massive on-line stock. Powells also has a prepaid shipping label. You only need a minimum of $5.00. I have used both sites, because a book rejected by one will be desired by the other.

While I prefer to support Powells, having gone to the originals in both Portland and Chicago in days gone by, I must say Barnes and Noble is better. Powells is very picky about condition. I send books that are, in my view, excellent (and I used to sell on half.com with nary a complaint), but Powells rejects a few. There is no appeal. Barnes and Noble, in contrast, has never rejected a book.

However, there are lots of books (used and new) I would like at Powells. I used some of my credit to get my son books he needed for a class in modern African literature. You can also use your credit for a gift card. I, for one, would love a gift like that. Lately, I've opted for cash.

Now this is not huge money. But every now and then I fill a box. In the past week or so I've mailed about 8--around $80.00 will be coming my way. That's a lot more than I could make with a comparable amount of work at a yard sale or on Ebay.

Whatever nobody wants I donate. I'm taking several bags of books in good condition to school to be sold at a student book sale.

Readers, let me know if you try this. Any good tips on getting rid of books? Any other ways to declutter for fun and a little profit?

6 comments:

Midlife, menopause, mistakes and random stuff... said...

Hi Frugal Scholar.....I hope that you had a great weekend?
I have a group of gals that I trade books with. We are all avid reader's and we buy used books at bookstores and yard sales then have a book swap every other week.
Works out great.....everyone gets a new read with a very nominal cost (the price of the basement bargain book).
I wish I had that Pucci dress L)

Steady On
Reggie Girl

roseread said...

I have tons of books to declutter, and I've been going the paperbackswap.com and swaptree.com. I 'm going to try Powells & Barnes and Noble now. Thanks for the tip :)

Duchesse said...

I'm a pass-on-the book person, will not hold house anything but required professional materials. My DH has every book he ever got (and he buys them all the time). About every 5 years I rant and he lets go of maybe three. We must have 400 linear feet of bookshelves in various rooms of the house. Two years ago, a friend died and willed him... his library. My secret is good looking bookshelves and forget about dusting.

Over the Cubicle Wall said...

Thanks for that tip. My two book shelves are overflowing, and I need to do something.

Terri said...

maybe you need to open a local version of halfprice books. In the Kansas City area, you take in the books you no longer want or need. The book buyer there looks them over and makes a bid (on old lps, videos, cds too), which you can accept or not. Typically, we take the bid and often, spend most of it before we leave.

Chance said...

This is such a great tip, thanks for it. Kite Runner is listing for nothing on Amazon, and thinking of it as a textbook could net 3 bucks? Love that. I also like that they pay shipping - very helpful.

I also use booksintocash.com, a text book buy back place that pays shipping as well. I still keep my high end textbooks for Amazon.

I tested a new textbook that lists for 97.00 yesterday on all three sites - BN, not buying, booksintocash, 9.75, Amazon 68.00 used was the lowest price. Listed it on Amazon.

This is one of the worst times of year to sell textbooks though, it is almost Worth It to keep them until late August and then check the prices. Anyway, thanks for a really useful post.