[Libs-Or] Responses: Selling discards on Amazon

Lydia Hunter lydia.hunter19 at gmail.com
Tue Sep 11 15:47:06 PDT 2012


Thank you for all of the great responses regarding selling discards on
Amazon.  You certainly gave me a lot of good ideas and food for thought.
After following these leads, our library is probably not going to go the
Amazon route (due to the time investment required) and will most likely use
Better World Books and Book Prospector.  For other libraries interested in
reselling discards, I've summarized the feedback I received, and included
the full responses below.  Thank you again for all of your wonderful ideas!


Lydia Hunter

Reference Librarian

Albany Public Library

2450 14th Ave. SE

Resellers worth checking out:

1.  Better World Books
2.  Thrift Books
3.  ABE
4.  Book Prospector
5.  Library Consignment
6.  Alibris

Things to keep in mind with Amazon:

   - Develop criteria for what to post: (>$15)vs. listing almost everything
   - Volunteer/Friends staffed vs. staff time
   - Credit card attached
   - storage while waiting for a sale
   - tracking system
   - Pro subscription after you reach a dollar amount in sales
   - shipping, weight, promptness

Model programs:

Hillsboro Library

Full Responses:

  Something to consider is that your library may be governed by a
governmental agency that has strict rules about surplus property disposal.
If you haven’t already, I would suggest that you refresh your memory of the
specifics of the policy to be sure your venture is in accordance. Anyway,
just something to consider, which you probably already have.

We send all our discards to Better World Books.  BWB supplies boxes and
pays for the shipping.  We receive a check from them quarterly with a
portion of the proceeds from the sale of our books.  A percentage of the
proceeds also goes to a charity the library can select from a list of
charities provided by BWB.  He have been very happy with BWB.

at my previous library in Vermont, I used Thrift Books to sell discards and
used books, and had a great, great experience with them -- they are one of
the largest resellers of used books on Amazon, and basically do everything
for you. Let me know if you want more information.

The Friends of Tualatin Library sell through Amazon. They have been doing
it for less than a year, and have raised about $4000.  They are picky about
what they list; they’ve developed some criteria about whether an item is
worth listing.

Tualatin got started with advice from Hillsboro Library, which has been
very successful. They take a different approach, listing almost all of
their donations and withdrawn items. Let me know if you’d like more
information; I can pass your contact information along to the Friends.

 Our friends of the library sell donations that are not used in the library
(and discards) on amazon but they pick and choose. I think they don't sell
anything that will go for less than $15? They have made quite a few dollars
this way for the friends of the library. We have some pretty savvy sellers!
It takes a lot of time and patience since some books will sit there for
quite a while (plus you need to be able to ship books out immediately as
needed). I would recommend if you have a volunteer that is willing to
handle this, the tricky part is that you need to have a credit card
attached to the account typically so needs to be someone who is trustworthy
and willing to use their own card/amazon account.  You also need a safe
long term storage for these books so they don't get moved while waiting for
a sale. I think it is worth it for our friends group - not sure if it would
be worth the time and energy for a paid staff member. You need someone
savvy with amazon so they know how to write up a good and accurate
description (most of yours would be listed as ex library copy sounds like).
You would also probably want a file of all sold merchandise/listed
merchandise so they are held accountable - our friends have sold a couple
books for close to or over $100 so you wouldn't want someone to be tempted
to just pocket the money...

 I imagine you'll get good feedback from Oregon libraries, but if you'd
like another perspective, I recommend that you get in touch with the folks
at Menlo Park Library in Menlo Park, CA. They have a really impressive
system for selling on Amazon, run by the Friends. (I volunteered with them
briefly in 2010 before relocating to Portland.)






We use ABE to sell our books. It’s been a really successful relationship.
There’s a bit of a learning curve for the software, and you need to only
have people who really know what they’re doing put the books online, but
otherwise it’s easy. You don’t have to deal the financial transaction
issues unless a customer wants a refund, which rarely happens if the
person(s) entering the books in the system do it right.

 We use Better World Books. They pay for shipping and we get to designate
which non-profit gets part of the proceeds. Their web site is
betterworldbooks.com and our rep is Erin Gerber [
egerber at betterworldbooks.com]

We have been selling on Amazon for a number of years. It is easy to set up
and run.    We now  have around 2,000 books on the site and net about
$1,000/month  When you reach a certain sales volume, it’s helpful to get a
Pro Subscription because some of the fees are waived.  Library discards,
especially non-fiction can have a surprising amount of value remaining.
Books that may not have appeal in your community can be sought after items
in other communities.  We use stamps.com to generate mailing labels and
avoid standing in line at the Post Office.  One caution is to be careful
about the weight of books you sell. Amazon gives you $3.99 for shipping,
but some heavy books or sets cost a lot more to mail.    Selling on Amazon
requires regular attention. When orders come in you need to ship within 3
days.  We have a several volunteers who help and 1 part time staff member
who oversees it. We learned a lot from Hillsboro. Their volunteer  Barbara
Wright, set up an amazing operation.  If you have space to store books and
volunteers willing to help, I would recommend selling on Amazon.

 We have been selling our discards and un-needed donations on ABEbooks.com
for the past eight or nine years.  It is also where we go to replace lost
books or find rare out of print books for our own library.  We have listed
approximately 20,000 with great success.  Check them out.

We previously sold our more expensive books on Amazon, Alibris, and
AbeBooks, and sold the less expensive books in-house.  We discontinued the
process due to limited staffing, moving to selling all books in our
in-house booksale.  We utilized an arrangement with Woody's
for a percentage of our sales, they provided software, user support, and
customer relations.  Woody was great; we just decided they internet sales
didn't work for us.
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