Keeping Inventory Fit and Trim
Books: you need to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em.
By Carl Burnham
This is the time of year when resolutions come to mind. For a bookseller, it is a good time to take stock of their inventory, to weed out the worthless books that have lost most of their monetary value, are just taking up space, and not likely to ever increase in value. You know the ones, the penny books. Some of these may also be books that have been in your inventory for several years and have an Amazon ranking over 1 million. As the old saying goes, one man's trash is another's treasure, which is especially true of books. Numerous online venues and local resources are available to utilize to get rid of good condition overstock books, some of which I will cover.
The largest online venue is of course ebay for listing books in lots, whether organized into categories or not. You may have a complete collection of Winston Churchill's writings, Janet Evanovich novels, books on furniture repair, or 300 cookbooks that someone has been looking for. For book lots, the key is to have attractive photos with as much detail as possible, with your terms. Barnes & Noble offers a BuyBack program (www.barnesandnoble.com/frames/selltextbooks/.) for used books online, although not for a quantity of books. Enter in the ISBN of the book and a value will be given if offered, and postage paid mailing labels will be sent. Many book site venues have message boards which allow the posting of books or inventories of books for sale. These include Alibris, Amazon, Americana Exchange, Biblio, eBay, and others. Also look in the section for wanted books to see if there is a match for ones you have available. There are also many sites that offer niche forums that focus on specific nonfiction and fiction books, which range from those seeking biographies to Star Wars.
Book swap sites have become popular, although they are also not a quick way to get rid of your overstock books. These sites include PaperbackSwap, Bookcrossing, TitleTrader, FrugalReader, and BookIns. My least favorite of these is BookCrossing, simply because they encourage a sticker to be placed inside the book cover, thereby further decreasing any future potential value of the book.
If you don't want the hassle of selling and dealing with shipping out overstock books (especially if large lots), list them on your local craigslist website, with photos and useful descriptions of course. You may just gain some local customers who have a keen interest in specific types of books that you offer as well.
Keeping Inventory Fit and Trim
If not wanting to spend time going through and sorting the books for selling in lots online, consider having an old fashioned yard sale. If you are like us, you have little time for this. Consider dropping them off at a secondhand used book store to see what you can get for them, while you browse their inventory. One of the largest of these is Halfprice Books, which operates in 13 states.
Your local library or charity will gladly take your books. Libraries rely on book donations to add to their ex library books that are offered in their annual book sales. In our area, Goodwill operates many drop-off stores separate from their regular stores, which also sell used books that have been donated. Many churches and nonprofits hold annual book sales to raise money. If the books you are wanting to liquidate have been damaged, have missing pages, covers, or spines, then they will likely need to be dumped in the trash, unless they are photo or picture books that kids may want to use for fun or school projects.
Although what you want for them may likely be a lot less than what you originally wanted, it beats nothing and frees up space for more valuable books when culling inventory. When selling in lots or donating, you also have the satisfaction that the books are still worthwhile reading for someone.