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Friday, August 7, 2009

Selling Your Books: Best Way

Back from my almost 3-week vacation. Little internet access. Pure bliss.

I had planned to post a killer back-from-vacation essay, but, of course, the pressure to do so makes writing hard. Instead, a very prosaic one.

In the months since the economic meltdown of Fall 2008, there have been loads of articles in the mainstream press about how to make extra money. They all sound pretty much the same. One common tip: Sell your books. Common variation: Be a book scout. This advice is followed by a tip to sell to, because you can often sell a book you bought for a quarter at a yard sale for $5.25.

As it happens, this advice, as well as the example, comes from the cash4books website, which also features a picture of the successful proprietors and their adorable baby.

I typed in a few isbns for a test run, and cash4books wanted nary a one.

So, in a public service mood, I checked out a current and desirable textbook: the Norton Anthology of English Literature, Volume 1. The book is not for sale, folks.

But if I were selling it, here are the options:

Amazon: The lowest price is $40.00. You would have to pay 15%, plus a dollar in fees. Then you'd have to pack and ship. You'd get $3.99 for shipping from Amazon, which probably would cover this bulky tome. Maybe add insurance in case it got lost.

Barnes and Noble: $25.85 cash. They provide a prepaid mailing label! Pack and ship! Easy-Peasy.

Powells: I remember old Mr. Powell bringing a big cart of books to the Reed College campus in the early 70s. A much-beloved store. But they only offer $11.00 in cash and a teeny bit more in virtual credit... They also provide a prepaid shipping label.

cash4books: In spite of the great press these folks get, they only offer $14.46.

I have a beef with these journalists. First, do they take all the info from company publicity? Do they check anything out?

A lot of people must be taking their advice, because I see a lot of book scouts caressing the books at the thrifts with their cellphones.

And, once again, you can't buy my book because it has my precious teaching notes in it.


Funny about Money said...

From my elevated perspective as a former journalist, I can testify that we tend to be lazy, indeed...or make that "overworked," a more accurate sobriquet. So, yeah: journalists, whether out of sloth or exhaustion, do absorb much of their information from press releases and similar corporatebabble. When I was on the receiving end of a flow of press releases that rivaled the Mississippi River, I'd often see "reports" in our daily newspaper that reproduced something I'd tossed in the trash, word for word. More industrious writers will rewrite the lead and then slap it on top of the rest of a press release.

And then there was the time that I drove over to look at a real estate development ballyhooed on the front page of the business section in what looked for all the world like a news story. Looking around, I ran into a salesperson who asked, "Did you read our ad in today's paper"?

What d'you suppose it costs to get an "ad" above the fold on the front page of the business section in the only metropolitan daily for the fifth-largest city in the land?

Chance said...

Cash4books is a total ripoff, IMHO. And I am always surprised when journalists don't give things a test run, that they copy stuff off websites, that they aren't being um...critical thinkers. Why I pay for the daily news is to get information and critique. I can surf the web without a journalist thank you. Harumph.

That said, I remain a huge fan of Amazon. Their business model is completely transparent, take or leave it, and I have made fair money selling to their customers. The whole "book scout" thing is stupid unless you are book scouting for yourself.

Welome home. You were missed.

earl said...

I believe some of the journalists you mention do rely on a certain company or product’s reputation already created by other sources rather than actually verifying their information firsthand. It’s up to the readers to decide what to do with it. But according to the Cash4Books website, the books they buy changes depending on certain factors like demand for the item and how many of it they currently have in their inventory. Just because they won’t buy a book now doesn’t mean they won’t buy that book in the future. On top of the standard free shipping feature it shares with most online book buyers, Cash4Books may even match a competitor’s price. Perhaps the books you were trying to sell them weren't in demand. Their website has an example of 500 books they recently purchased, and it looks like they pay very well for recently published textbooks and computer books. I wouldn't totally write them off based on one bad experience.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Funny--I guess I'm naive. I'm still expecting journalism to save the world.

@Thanks Chance! Yes, amazon is best, but after all the fees, Barnes and Noble is awfully close.

@Earl--I had no experience with the company. And I checked other books with similar results.