Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Selling Used Books Online: Part 7 - What If My Books Don't Sell?

This is part 7 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, part 4, part 5, and part 6 of the series.

From this series, you've learned (based on my experience) what types of books will sell, how to identify the best online site to sell them, whether to sell them singly or in lots, and how to make a good listing.  But what if you've done all this, and the books still aren't selling?  Here are some reasons why they may not have sold.
  • There just isn't a demand for that book.  The book may be out of date, or there may be a new revision of it.  Perhaps it's about a subject that is of interest to only a few people.  It might be a forgettable work of fiction, or a hardcover edition after the trade paperback has been released.  Some books just won't sell online, no matter what you do.
  • You chose the wrong time to sell the book.  Perhaps it's a book that college students might need for their classes, but if you're selling in the middle of the semester, you most likely won't find any buyers.  Wait until just before school starts, and perhaps there will be more demand for it.
  • Your lot was too small.  A small lot of books will be less likely to sell than a larger lot.  There's a better chance that there will be more books in the large lot that buyers want, thus increasing demand.  The shipping for larger lots should be proportionally less than a smaller lot, and buyers for the most part will want to keep shipping costs to a minimum.
  • You could have titled or described your item better.  There's a lot you can do to make people more interested in purchasing your book.  See part 6 of this series for more information.
  • Your price was too high.  There may be a demand for that book or lot, but not at the price that you listed it at.  If possible, consider reposting your listing/auction at a lower starting price.  If you've already listed it as low as you're willing to take for it, then you'll have to consider another strategy, such as adding more books to your lot and posting a new auction.
Although selling books online is a great way to find many potential buyers for your book, it's not the only place you should consider.  If you're having trouble selling a book online, one option is to find an online site which will give you a quote for your books.

There are many websites that will give you a quote on how much they're willing to pay for a book, and if you agree on the price, they will purchase it from you.  One site that I know of is CKY Books.  It's simple - you enter the ISBN for the book you'd like to sell, and the site will tell you if they are accepting the book or not.  If they are, then you'll be given a quote which you can then accept or reject.

When working with any company, be sure to find out who will pay for shipping the books, what happens if a book is rejected by the company once it's been sent, and how you will be paid.  For a larger list of online book-buying sites, check this article about 30 Places to Buy, Sell, or Trade Your Books.

Speaking of trading, you can using online book trading sites to get a different book in exchange for the one you can't sell.  Check that article listed above for book trading websites.  They work in different ways - some trade books one for one, others work on a point system, and others charge a small fee for the swap.  In most cases you will have to pay shipping to send out your book.

You can also try non-online sales.  Try holding a yard sale, or bring your book to a local used book store to see if they'll buy the book from you.  If all else fails, you can give the book away, or you can donate the book to a library or a thrift shop (where you might have found it in the first place) and take a tax deduction for the donation.

I hope you've enjoyed and learned from this series!

Check out these sites for more great tips!

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