Thursday, 22 October 2009

Selling Books

In the olden days, before the internet, you had to go to the dreaded dealer or pay the fees of an auctioneer.

Both these gentlemen (I use the term in its most all-encompassing form), would look sadly at your offerings and you would leave (much later if you sent them to auction) feeling disappointed with the cheque.

The internet has changed all this. Now you can hunt for the book you have on several sites which provide an online bookselling service. This gives you an idea of what it is actually worth, which is a good starting point.

Amazon is where I start. Search for the book and check the price of the cheapest copy in similar condition to yours. Now you have a decision to make. How much is your time worth? I don't bother to list a book for sale on Amazon unless the price is £5 for a hardback and £3 for a paperback. Be careful if you decide to go for a lower price as the Amazon fixed postage allowance may not be enough to cover your costs. Then, once you have opened a seller account, you just have to enter a description of the condition of the book (definitions of the grades are here ), enter your price and let the listing run

Amazon take a high level of commission and fix the postage charge but, on the up side, there are no listing fees and you always get paid.

Setting the price is quite straightforward but if another edition is available much more cheaply, you are unlikely to sell yours (unless it is a collectable edition), so look at the prices of other editions before pricing yours.

And then there is the problem of optimistic, usually US, booksellers. Some books are available at totally ridiculous prices. These books are not going to sell and nor will yours even if you price it at £2 less! To detect genuinely expensive books search Alibris and Abebooks. If the price is high on those sites, then you probably have a real rarity. You can sell on these two but they charge a monthly fee and it is only worthwhile if you have a very large number of books to sell. I don't know much about selling on these sites though buying on either has always been a good experience.

For really rare books, say over £50, condition is so important that I don't try to sell them online. I wouldn't spend £50 on a secondhand book without seeing it in Real Life so I don't expect anyone else to do the same. Those I send to a specialist book auction.

One last hint - Keep your inventory organised or you will sell books and not be able to find them!

I can't say that I've found many venues apart from Amazon very useful for selling books.

If you try them on the obvious auction site, do check that there are not dozens of the same title on already. Check completed items of the same title or at least the same sort before listing yours. If they go through unsold, don't bother to list yours.. move on to my next post!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Too Many Books?

There are, in my experience, only two sorts of people. The first have very few books and little or no interest in them. The second, and I'm talking to these people, have too many and keep acquiring more.

One day you have to face the fact that some of them have to go but books are not ordinary stuff and getting rid of them is emotional as well as a practical task.

Here are my suggestions for that task.

1) First remove duplicates. I know that sounds obvious, but many of us have them.
2) Sort through the rest and decide which ones must go. Be ruthless. In the unlikely circumstance that you decide that you got rid of a book that you wanted, you will find that very few modern books cannot be borrowed from your library or bought online for relatively small sums of money. For example, how often do you re-read a novel? Be honest! Are you keeping your favourites so your children can read them? How likely is that? If you have a fine collection of romances and no daughters, they are very likely never to be read again, so consider rehoming them (I prefer the term rehoming to disposing). Are you ever going to take up pyrography, surgery, go on that 1980s fad diet? Please insert the subject of your own white elephant non-fiction books into that sentence. Free yourself from the guilt of not doing these things by removing the books from your shelves.

Now you have a heap of books to leave (and some space on your bookshelves!). I find it disheartening to think of these books languishing on a charity shop shelf waiting for the one person who wants them so what follows is my strategy for minimising that.

What can you do with them?
1) Give away to people you know
2) Sell
3) Give to charity
4) Swap for books you want

Point 1 is easy - you know who has small daughters who will love the Flower Fairy books your sons despise or who has sons who want the Action Man books you loved as a boy but which your daughters ignore.

My next post will go into more detail on how to do the others, giving you space, possibly some money and a smug feeling of having done something useful.

Monday, 20 April 2009

2. Fabric
If this is in small pieces then many school art departments will be happy to take it for collage.

Larger pieces can be wanted by schools as well or amateur dramatic societies. The very best fabric locust I ever came across was a fashion student who was very pleased with many of my less sensible fabric false economies! (they were all such a good idea at the time when I bought them!)

The quickest way of disposing creatively of fabric in large quantities, pretty much regardless of the size of pieces or nature of the fabric is the Scrap Store.

Here is the link to the website for the one in Bristol. It includes information about the many items they are happy to receive as donations and a list of other scrap stores about the UK. My local one is Swindon Children's Scrapstore and they make excellent use of their donations, helping other voluntary groups as well as schools.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Art & Craft Materials Part I

Almost anyone who does any craft work at all creates what the Americans call a stash. This stash can result in a disposal problem when your interests change. I would recommend passing on things you really can't see yourself using in say the next 5 years (and I'm being generous in giving you 5 years!!!). Where to and what are we talking about? It rather depends on the craft but here are some ideas for what you might have and where to donate it.

1. Knitting Yarn
Much of this will be wanted for the army of knitter who knit for charity. Every year thousands of shoe boxes of Christmas presents are sent out by Samaritan's Purse under the heading Operation Christmas Child and many knitted items are included. A church or school near to you is sure to be taking part and would welcome donated yarn.

I could post a dozen or more links but here is a collection of them. One of these is sure to appeal to you and want your yarn stash.

to be continued....

Tuesday, 10 March 2009


This is a worldwide movement based on Yahoo Groups.

The UK homepage is here.

But I haven’t told you why you would want to know about Freecycle.

Freecycle allows you to find the person who wants something you have but don’t want. The movement is based on reducing landfill. You advertise what you have that you don’t want and you will be emailed by people who would like it. You can also ask for things but I will come to that later.

What can you Freecycle? Almost anything legal, decent and safe although most groups seem to ban the offering of animals.

What should you Freecycle? This is a different question and the answers are my opinions. I freecycle anything large, useful and difficult to sell/rehome. So far this has included carpets after we had an extension built and all the rooms had grown too big for the carpets. In the same wave we found new owners for all the curtain rails, curtains and window blinds that were no longer any use to us. I’ve also Freecycled old software, computer components, jam jars, garden plants, audio cassette tapes and, best of all, most of my old fitted kitchen! I’ve received underbed drawers and a bag full of knitting yarn among other things.
Other items which go well are furniture, computer peripherals when you have upgraded, electrical goods & building materials.

When I decide whether to post something on Freecycle I ask myself these questions

1. Can I sell this & is the likely price worth the effort?
2. Will a charity shop be likely to sell this?
3. Is there any chance anyone will want this?

If the answers are No, No & Yes, then I put it on my local Freecycle.

If there are no replies, then it is often worth putting it on again a few weeks later and at a different time of the week. Also, if you live at the edge of a Freecycle group’s area, join the next one and post it there. Different things go well in different areas.

Often you will get just one reply but deciding who gets a popular item is entirely up to the original owner.

Items should be collected by the receiver and it is important to turn up when you said you would and to be polite (the words “Thank You” are sometimes strangely absent, I’m told, though all my collectors have said them). There should be no charge at all.

Although it is not really in the spirit of the blog, I can’t resist making some observations about Wanted posts. These are controversial. Most reasonable people can tell the ones that should be banned as soon as they read them (Wanted – Laptop(windows XP or better)…) and the sensible ones (Wanted – 3’ of worktop, any colour, for my garage), but it is very difficult to write rules for this. I just ignore most of them and it may be best for your blood pressure if you do the same.

To sum up, Freecycle is a great weapon in the Decluttering War as it is more satisfactory to get rid of something to someone who wants it than just to pitch it out.

P.S. Tell any tradesmen working on your house about Freecycle. They are constantly removing useful items from homes and can encourage Freecycling. It is in their interests, too, as Trade Waste must be paid for at the tip. The basin and loo from our old bathroom were wanted by 6 people inside an hour of posting. The Thermostatic shower control was similarly popular and the window blind and mirror have also been rehomed.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Only Fit for the Bin?

Some things are definitely rubbish aren’t they? Worn out clothes? Damaged shoes? Scruffy old handbags?

You are probably used to seeing fabric bins amongst the recycling but do you use them? I used to but now I deliver my worn out and damaged fabric to charity shops in bags which I mark “rags”. Check with your favourite charity shop that they are happy to receive such stuff but the two shops in my small town both tell me that they are paid for every bag of clean but damaged fabric which is collected from them. The stuff in the bin in the car park may go to a charity or it may not. By delivering directly you select who benefits.

Shoes? These need to be bagged separately from fabric but one shop tells me that they get £1.50 per dustbin bag of shoes however worn out. The same goes for handbags.

And you can be quite sure that if someone is paying for the stuff then it is being recycled rather than sent to landfill!

Now how does this apply to the title of this blog? Are there shoes in your cupboard which have had it? Will you ever use that slightly grubby handbag with the damaged strap? The jumper with just one hole which is front and centre? Why not put them in bags and send them to be recycled? Your home can only be a clearer, nicer place without the unusable junk.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Presents - Seasonal Thoughts

Now this is a ticklish but seasonally appropriate subject. I've been asked to dispose of more than one box of things which were no longer wanted and have been quite hurt to find items which I had given as presents. In a couple of cases the prices such items fetched on ebay have very nearly taken away the sting but that isn't going to happen often!

While tidying up for elderly relatives, there seemed to me to be an astonishing number of presents which they had never used. Some were unused for obvious reasons: they were never the right gift. However, many were, I suspect, put away as "too good to use".

I have learned a few things about presents

Rule 1 – When someone gives you a present they mean it for you now not for your niece-in-law who inherits it.
Rule 2 – Nothing you can afford is too good to use. Unless you can identify the special day when that bottle of champagne will be opened or the super new perfume used, then perhaps the best day for using it is today.
Rule 3 – Only wine improves with age. Use everything else now!

Finally, if an item is really not what you want or will use, get rid of it soon. Give it away, sell it but just don’t keep it past the stage where the donor can say “where is the **** I gave you?”