Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Selling Used Books Online: Part 5 - Children's Book Lots

This is part 5 of a multi-part series on selling used books online. It is based on my personal experience and is not a complete guide.  Click here for part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4 of the series. Please watch each week for a new installment. Thanks!

Last week I talked about selling books in lots - specifically, books that wouldn't sell well individually.  When I sold books regularly a few years ago, I would sell some books for adults in lots, but mostly I sold books for children.

I did this partly because I had some expertise in the field, being a mom of three voracious readers, but I also did it because I felt there was both a great supply and a great demand for used children's books.  On the supply side, I had seen large boxes of books being sold at yard sales in family neighborhoods, often selling several for a dollar.  I had seen lots of kids' books at library sales as the library got rid of older, less popular series to make room for the latest craze.  And of course there were lots of children's books at thrift shops.

On the demand side, I knew that many parents would like to have a large collection of books for their children, but children's books can be incredibly expensive new, and the kids are pretty rough on the books.  I felt that teachers would want to have book collections in their classrooms, and that the budget of school libraries were being cut.  So, I felt like there were opportunities to help these people get books at a good price.

I collected different books for different types of lots.

I would often collect board books for the youngest readers.  When looking to buy used board books, make sure that all the pages are there and that the book is in very good condition.  I often looked for the most popular children's board book authors, such as Eric Carle (The Very Hungry Caterpillar) or Eric Hill (the Spot books).  Or, I'd look for popular characters.  At the time I was selling, Blue's Clues and Dora the Explorer were still hot, so I'd find several books featuring each character and sell them as a lot.  One thing to keep in mind is that board books can often be large and heavy; this will increase your shipping costs - not only will the box be heavy, but you will need a large box to fit the books in.

Another type of book lot I'd put together were early reader books.  Dr. Seuss is by far the most popular and has the most name recognition - a lot made up of several of his books would sell well.  There are also the Beginner Books series, which has a picture of the Cat in the Hat but contains other authors besides Dr. Seuss.

Picture books - I often would collect books that had won the Caldecott Medal or were runners-up, and sell them as a book collection.  I also looked at suggested book lists from homeschooling curricula.  For instance, the Five in a Row curriculum is based on quality children's books.  I would find a couple of dozen books suggested by that plan and sell them as a lot.  (Note: I am not a homeschooler myself.)

Chapter books - this is probably what I sold the most of.  They're plentiful in the used market because kids often buy them as part of the Scholastic Books program at school.  I would either collect books as part of a series, or classify them by grade level.
  • Series books - here are some of the series that sold well for me: Magic Tree House, Junie B. Jones, Goosebumps, Babysitters Club, Babysitters Little Sister, Encyclopedia Brown, and many others.
  • By grade level - For books that didn't fit into a series, I would check their grade level using the Accelerated Reader website (it's the number listed after BL, or Book Level).  Accelerated Reader is a reading program used by many public schools; you can read about their program here.  I would group them by level, say 2.0-2.9.  Then in my auction I would put "Accelerated Reader 2.0" or "AR 2.0" in the title of my auction.  There was definitely a lot of interest in these auctions.
  • For books that weren't Accelerated Reader books, I would just collect them until I had a very large number of them and sell them all at once.  There was definitely more interest in larger lots than in smaller ones.
Part 6: Marketing Your Books

Check out Frugal Friday @ Life as MOM, Frugal Friday @ Stockpiling Mom, Tuesday's Tip Jar, Madame Deals, Money Saving Monday, Tuesday's Tips, The Thrifty Home, Works For Me Wednesday (temporarily here), and Tightwad Tuesday for more tips.

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Pauline Wiles March 2, 2010 at 9:49 PM  

Very interested in your concept of bundling books together, if they won't sell individually. I would never have thought of that, and wonder if perhaps the idea can be applied to other types of item, too. Thank you!

Catherine March 3, 2010 at 9:51 AM  

I am LOVING this series! Actually, this series is why I subscribed to your blog and I love your other posts as well. I have been selling books solely on half.com for over 2 years now and I am just thinking about how to branch out! I look forward to the rest of the series and I hope you take a moment to talk about how to price shipping for these book lots. Thanks!

Annie Kate March 3, 2010 at 10:35 PM  

This sounds like something I should pay more attention to. We have tons of books around here, and some of them need to go.


Annie Kate

Coupon Teacher March 4, 2010 at 4:33 PM  

I have been enjoying your series, although being a teacher, I buy more books than sell them!

Sarah @ Mum In Bloom March 5, 2010 at 7:52 AM  

Like other commenters, I've really been enjoying your serious on selling used books. Thank you so much for sharing all this useful information :)

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