When buying books from customers, there is often a discussion about alternative ways of selling books. Here is our advice about selling books by auction or online- and why we think selling to an established bookseller is a good idea.
SELLING YOUR BOOKS AT AUCTION
In many instances, by selling to a reputable bookseller, you will achieve a higher price for your books than you would at auction. Many auction houses now charge as much as 50% of the gross value of the books offered for sale, when the both the seller's and buyer's commission are taken into consideration.
The majority of books sold at auction are bought by the book trade, with auction houses acting in effect as a 'middle-man'. Most auction houses now charge both seller and buyer between 20% and 25% commission. A common scenario would be a bookseller wanting to pay perhaps £50 or £60 for a book he might eventually sell for £100.
Taking the buyer's commission into consideration, he would bid up to £40 or £45 in the saleroom.
The vendor then receives that amount less a further 20 to 25%, so the vendor would receive approximately £30 to £35. That amount is without deducting any charges for lotting or photography.
The above example does not include removal charges for quantities of books which auction houses charge for but booksellers invariably do not. Most importantly, the example assumes the book achieved a good price on the day. The book could have sold for considerably less than this.
SELLING BOOKS YOURSELF ONLINE
The internet allows our customers access to information about book prices that was previously only gained through years of bookselling experience. Almost every customer who calls us about a potentially valuable book starts the conversation with the words ‘I’ve looked it up online’.
Internet book prices should always be taken with a dose of salt- remember they are asking prices and the books may not ever sell at that level. Most people take the highest price shown as a guideline, but it'll be the cheaper books that will sell first.
Books reach top-end prices when they’re in fine condition and being sold by reputable booksellers with years of experience. Booksellers spend years building up the trust and credibility required to ask for the best prices.
Selling books online is very time consuming. Be prepared to put in considerable time listing, describing and photographing items, and expect to achieve the lower end of the prices you see online- not the highest. Turnover tends to be slow, less than 5% of what you have listed in any one month. Once your books have sold don’t forget about time packing, posting and dealing with returns. Expect to pay over 20% of the sale price to the online marketplace in seller’s and card processing fees.
SELLING BOOKS TO A BOOKSHOP
We recommend choosing an experienced, established bookseller with retail premises. They’ll have spent years building reputation and trust. With access to a strong, established customer base, they’ll be in a position to offer you a premium price to secure good books for their best clients. Ask for word-of-mouth recommendations and choose a bookshop or dealer who is a member of the ABA or PBFA as they will abide by their trade association’s Code of Practice.
For large book collections, a bookseller can arrange to view items at your home, or smaller collections can be brought to the bookseller’s premises. Expect to receive anything between 75% and 25% of the retail value of your books. The more valuable and saleable your book or collection is, the more you can expect to receive for it in terms of percentage of retail value. We regard this as a convenient & fair way to sell your books, and you receive the money immediately in a lump sum with no further fees to pay.