I’ve found quite a few books around the house that need a new home, so I decided to try selling them using Bookscouter.com. There are a lot of websites like Bookstores.com and Textbooks.com that will quote you a price for your books, allow you to ship them for free, then pay you a small amount upon receipt. Bookscouter aggregates the quotes from around 20 preferred vendor sites so you can see where you’ll get the best deal.
The buyback process varies from site to site, but in general works like this:
- Enter the ISBN of the book, located just above its Barcode, into Bookscouter.
- Bookscouter will return a list of quotes from several online buyers, starting with the highest price. It also tells you whether the buyer cuts you a check, submits your payment to paypal, sends you a free shipping label, and pays for shipping.
- Pick a buyer. Read the reviews, buyer reputations vary widely. Also, most of these sites have a minimum sale of $5 or $10, so if you have a lot of paperbacks to sell, you may have to sell a few to the same buyer, even if they aren’t the highest bidder.
- You’ll now be sent to the buyer’s site.
- Print out your shipping label. Follow any special instructions.
- Box up your books.
- Drop them off at UPS or FedEx.
- Wait. Many of these sites take a couple weeks to get back to you.
Case Study: Does It Work?
The following is my experience selling books from start to finish.
First, I searched for each book and noted the top 2-3 buyers and what they would pay. Next, I checked the top buyer’s reputations and noted any issues. Most of the companies have a least one complaint saying that they either “lost” a book or received a damaged book and wouldn’t pay. In general, I decided to take a chance on companies that had around four or five stars, assuming that accidents happen, but that these ones are generally honest.
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Some of the books came back with zero bids across the board. Those I’ll donate.
Quiet by Susan Cain
Bookstores.com – $1.77
TextbooksRush.com – $1.77
Bookbyte – $1
Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv
Chegg – $4.05 – Chegg had a lot of recent low ratings, so I’m passing on the extra $.05.
Textbooks.com – $4
Bookstores.com – $2.31
Under the Black Flag by David Cordingly
Chegg – $2.36
Textbooks.com – $2.00
Powell’s – $1 – Powell’s is notorious for only taking immaculate books. I’m afraid to try them!
National Geographic Pocket Guide to Birds of North America by Laura Erickson & Jonathan Alderfer
SellBackYourBook.com – $1.80
Powell’s – $1.75
BookJingle.com – $1.65
One hour later this book was worth NOTHING. Weird! This one will be donated.
SellBackYourBook.com – $3.60
BookJingle.com – $2.24
There’s a $5 minimum to sell to SellBackYourBook.com, so I’ve decided to donate this book instead.
Conservation in the Progressive Era by David Stradling & William Cronon
Chegg – $2.02
Textbooks.com – $2.00
Bookstores.com – $1.16
TextbooksRush.com – $1.16
A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants by Christopher Brickell
Bookbyte.com – $10.25
SellBackYourBook.com – $8.86
Chegg – $8.70
Despite the somewhat lower review scores for Bookbyte.com, I decided to try selling my most expensive book to them, The American Horticultural Society A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants.
Many of my other books were worth money on Textbooks.com and given the almost universal $10 minimum, I decided to aggregate and sell them Conservation in the Progressive Era, Under the Black Flag, and Last Child in the Woods. However, I needed $2 more and quickly ran downstairs to see if there was anything I’d missed. Soon this book was on the chopping block:
Caring for your Baby and Young Child Birth to Age 5 by the American Academy of Pediatrics
Chegg – $3.03
Textbooks.com – $3
Shipping the Books
After reading both websites’ specific instructions (Bookbyte had the easier process) and packaging all five books I am thoroughly questioning my choice to sell five books for a total of $21.25. The time it took me to get this far exceeds the total buyback rate, but I wanted to see this through.
The Textbooks.com shipment method is UPS. Bookbyte.com uses FedEx. I did this on a weekend and so I went to both the FedEx store and UPS store on Sunday to drop-off my boxes, assuming they have a dropbox at each location. Business never stops, right? Well, surprisingly, FedEx was OPEN and it was easy for me to drop my first box off at the counter. UPS was closed with no dropbox in sight. There was a dropbox at a local business building, but it only accepted packages that were less than 16x11x3 inches. My four-book package didn’t fit. Now, I’m schlepping that box with me on my regular morning commute, which consists of one bus and two trains, so I can drop it off at the most convenient UPS center during its open hours. Sheesh.
Results: Getting Paid
On Thursday (9/25), I received an email from Textbooks.com saying that they received my books. Later that day, another email indicated which books and in what condition they received them. They said I would get a check in the next two weeks (which is interesting given that I requested a Paypal payment).
I never heard anything else, so on Thursday, 10/2, I decided to check my Paypal account. What do you know? The full $11 from Textbooks.com was already there; it had been transferred on Monday (9/29). Funny that they wouldn’t take the opportunity to give their customers the good news (Congrats! Your money is available!), but they did pay the full amount promised. In total, it took them only 7 days from package send to money in the bank.
It took a full week to hear back from Bookbyte.com. The following Tuesday (9/30), I got a text message from BookByte saying they received my book, processed my order and that I would be paid in 48 hours! Bookbyte delivered my $10.25 to paypal (as expected) on Thursday (10/2): 11 days from package send to money in the bank.
While the entire process of selling my books worked as expected, it wasn’t exactly hassle-free. For a mere $21.25, I spent an hour researching options, some time dropping off my boxes (en-route to other errands), and then several days waiting anxiously and fully expecting to hear some excuse for why they couldn’t pay me the money or that they hadn’t received the books.
Unless you have valuable textbooks to sell, donate the books. You can write-off the donation at tax time and earn back more in refunds than you can by selling most books ($1.50 for paperbacks or $3 for hard covers in good shape is the going book donation rate). You can donate to your local library or many other charities.