Guest Post By: Dan Danbom
Books can pose problems for people wanting to declutter, downsize, or move — or for people who inherit books. The question is always: What do I do with these? The best alternative is often to sell them, but not all books have equal value, and some have no value at all — Old textbooks, Readers Digest Condensed Books, encyclopedias, and damaged books are virtually worthless.
Some books have a short shelf life and also have little value, such as travel guides from 2009. Damaged books should be recycled. Books with little or no value should probably go to a Goodwill or ARC.
A big misconception about books is that old equals value. There are old books that are valuable, but the majority of old books are simply old. Conversely, some books have a lot of value, but it may often require a specialist to determine that. For example, when it comes to literature in particular, first editions have more value than later printings, but determining a first edition is much harder than you’d think. Professional booksellers have the resources to determine such things. Professional booksellers are also a better source for determining the value of a book than, say, the Internet.
The Internet is rife with books for sale from people who have little or no knowledge about books. When you do sell books to a bookseller, he or she will give you 25%-30% of the retail value of a book if they’re an ethical bookseller. That proportion is about the best they can do given the costs of being in business. If you want to get books appraised, it can be costly. Most booksellers charge $100 and up per hour to do appraisals. If you are planning to donate books to your alma mater, for example, you’ll need an appraiser with special credentials for you to deduct the value of the donation from your taxes.
Some booksellers make house calls to look at collections. It’s also a good idea to ask for references unless you already know and trust the bookseller. See if they have any credentials such as membership in the Antiquarian Booksellers Assn. of America. As a longtime bookseller myself, I’m happy to give free advice to people wanting to sell books. I buy books and also have avenues to donate books, including a food bank that delivers (for children’s books) and facilities for persons coming off homelessness.
Dan 303-880-1217 firstname.lastname@example.org