The Mermaid's Tale

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Buy and sell used books -- go green and save money

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save money by buying and selling used books
Remember when Amazon just sold books? Yeah, those were the days ....

If you wax nostalgic about finally finding a secondhand book you have been looking for, consider selling your discards then using the proceeds to restock your personal library if you can't swap them. Books are an easy item to pack and ship around the world, provided you can find a title a buyer might want. In the end it's almost a swap if you can manage to break even on costs.

Some great places to buy and sell used books online include:

Book conditions

Before listing a book for sale, ascertain the condition of the book. "See photos for details of condition" or "may contain underlining or other interior markings" is insufficient. Buyers want to know what you see when you look at the book.

All defects in the book must be disclosed. This includes:

Tip: Be conservative when describing a book's condition. What would you rather buy: a book listed simply as "Very Good", or one that describes all the bumps, flaws, and previous owner's bookplate?

No one wants a disappointed customer who will return a book for undisclosed margin notes.

How to pack and ship a book

Once you are selling books, you will need to ship the books out. That means packing them properly prior to shipping. There is a right way and a wrong way, so it's best to learn how to do it before you need to do it.

  1. Measure your book's dimensions. You will need packaging that size plus at least a 2 to 3 inch margin around it. That means for a narrow (1 inch of narrow) book, securing the book into a cardboard sleeve and placing it into a rigid cardboard mailer or padded envelope will suffice. For a wider book, you will need a box. In this case, wrap the book securely in bubble wrap, then use enough padding (air pillows, foam peanuts, etc) to secure the book in place so it doesn't shift in transit. Shake the packaging -- if you hear the book moving, add more padding.
  2. Secure the packaging with tape. Even a padded mailer needs tape. Don't trust the sticky flap to hold against shipping.
  3. Address the packaging. Don't write the address directly on the packing. Make an address label, even if it's just a piece of paper. Tape over the label to prevent water damage; the label must be readable.
  4. Determine the shipping method. An inexpensive secondhand book can be shipped Media Mail or Book Rate. Rare, expensive, or antiquarian books should always go by a safer method -- Priority at minimum. If you are shipping those type of books, offer shipping options.
  5. Mail the book. Once you know the shipping method, get it on its way as soon as possible.

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