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Quick Guide: Selling (or disposing of) old books

So you’ve got a pile of old books you’d like to get rid of, but have discovered that they may not have any serious value.

If you’re not sure if you’ve got a valuable rare book on your hands, try our 2020 Guide for Evaluating Books or Home Libraries which is packed with tips to help you figure out what’s valuable and what’s not.

If your book turns out to be common or not-very-collectible, what do you do next?

You’ve gotten your enjoyment out of your books, now it’s time to pass them on and, if you’re lucky, perhaps make a little something back, even if it’s just enough to get a double mocha latte.


A bit of research online will help you evaluate the worth of your old books. cuts down on your research time by searching all available sites for you using your book’s ISBN number – that’s the long number with the barcode which usually appears on the back cover. then displays the prices from those sites so you can check out the various offers and choose where you’d like to sell old books yourself.

2. eBay

eBay’s auction format offers the best possible means of selling old books quickly and easily.

We recommend offering free shipping in your auction listing, it tends to encourage people to bid or buy your book now. Keep in mind that you’ll likely have a lot of competition with other folks selling the same book, so don’t be surprised if your book auction ends without being sold.

You can relist your old books if they don’t sell the first time around, or take advantage of eBay’s “Good Till Cancelled” option.

3. Amazon

Amazon’s huge marketplace also has a lot of competition among low-value books. The up side is the worldwide exposure to shoppers looking to buy an old book like yours. The down side? Amazon’s selling process is a lot trickier than eBay’s and many sellers find it a hassle.

This is an good option, but may not be the best one when trying to sell old books.

A little known feature that Amazon has revealed is their buyback program. Amazon will buy back your used textbooks in exchange for Amazon gift cards (not cash), offering up to 80% back on your original purchase price. They’ll also accept trades for selected items you’ve purchased through them in the past.

4. Local Used Book Stores

Check your local area listings for used bookstores that buy old books. Many times, these stores will buy your old books outright or may give you in-store credit for use on your future purchases.

The down side? If an old book isn’t worth much to begin with, a reseller won’t be able to pay you anything significant because they’ll need to mark up the book in their store. Expect dirt cheap prices or more likely, in-store credit if you go the re-seller route.

5. Thrift Stores

If you’re all out of options to sell old books, your last stop might have to be at your local thrift store.

Donating your used books will earn you a small tax write off and a sense of satisfaction that you’re supporting nearby charities, especially when donating to outfits like Goodwill and the Salvation Army that do so much good for the community.