Will You Buy My Used Books?

Will You Buy My Used Books?

I had my first “unsolicited call”  this week. Well it was more an “unsolicited email” from a person who had some books they wanted to get rid of and wanted to know if I would like to come and have a look at them?

So the toing and froing started between us, all by email.

Me  “ What sort of books are they? What sort of condition are they? Is it a bulk lot or can I split them? How many?” and so the questions went on. (I was a little excited as this is the first time I’ve been approached by someone I didn’t know to offload books).

Her response “There are around 80 books. My address is … I will be there on Thursday at 11.30”.


She didn’t answer all of the important questions. Do I make the trip out to a not so nice part of town, to meet a person who I’ve never spoken to, who might not have the best of intentions towards me? Or she could be a really sweet person who has a huge pile of very sellable books that are in such good condition they could be straight from the publishers themselves?

Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. So I gave my husband the address and left explicit instructions to call me half an hour after I had arranged to meet this person. If I didn’t answer he was to come looking for me – fortunately he was working a few minutes away from the address so it wasn’t a huge inconvenience for him. And off I drove.

I was nervous I have to admit. But also excited. What sort of treasures would I find? How much am I going to offer her? Would I take all of them? What is a reasonable amount of time to sift through all of the books, trying to determine their worth, before I become just a browser? How much am I going to offer her?

She turned out to be a really sweet person with a huge pile of very sellable books that were in excellent condition. Read once, no dog-earred pages, no unidentifiable stains, no rips or tears – and a very wide variety of fiction and non-fiction.

My husband rang while I was in the middle of sifting and, as subtely as I could I told him his help wasn’t required and he could go back to work. Then the negotiations started.

This is not a strength of mine. I am not a haggler. I walk into a store and ALWAYS pay the price that is being asked. I am trying to change this particular trait – it is not beneficial to my business to pay full price for something I’m trying to on- sell. That’s the nature of our chosen job isn’t it? We want the best quality for the lowest price, and then want a discount on top of that because our margins are so tight.

I started confidently. I told her I only had so much to spend per book and couldn’t afford anymore than that. She understood. Then offered me a price and I said “Yes that’s fine”.

She helped me carry them out to the car and waved bye.

At the first set of traffic lights, I calculated in my head that I’d just paid $2 more per book than I’d said I could afford.

No wonder she helped me carry them to the car. She must’ve been waiting for the penny to drop in my head. The penny didn’t drop until I was around 25 kilometres away.

Lesson learnt – next time I take my husband with me. He has very short arms and very long pockets!


Amanda, A Novel Book

10 thoughts on “Will You Buy My Used Books?”

  1. Bummer about paying more than you said but glad it turned out alright and the person emailing you was a sweet little lady and not an axe murderer.

    • Me too 🙂

      Now the problem is that most of the books I bought from her I really want to read, so I’ve listed them and am now reading furiously before they sell.

  2. I can really relate to your experience Amanda. Haggling isn’t my forte either. To date I haven’t been approached by anyone wanting me to buy their books. Keep up the good work.

  3. I can certainly relate to the part about questions given in an email and unanswered by the emails recipient. That is always frustrating.

    I also relate to the “so much to spend per book” and then working the numbers out after the cash has changed hands. I always tell people, “I’m a printer not a mathematician.” and I can prove it to them with some financial deals. But that also depends on who I’m dealing with. A sweet little woman would disarm my ‘wallet alarm’ whereas a shifty eyed guy in an expensive suit would put the alarm on high sensitivity.

    Enjoy the reading while you own the the books and may you get your money back quickly.

  4. I’m definitely getting better at “waiting out” a seller and haggling. A while back, a guy was selling full boxes of used books on behalf of another guy who was getting out of the used bookstore business. So I knew the stock was going to be pretty decent. He said he’d be selling items for $15 per box on Friday and Saturday. … I contacted him on Saturday and offered to come by Monday, after the sale, and purchase several boxes at $5 per box to help him clear out the remainders. Well, very little had sold on Friday & Saturday, so I ended up buying 14 boxes of nice-condition used non-fiction books for $70. By the time I was done with the first of the 14 boxes, I had listed well over $100 worth of books. Three years ago, I would not have had the experience or haggling skills to make a deal like that.

  5. I think every dealer has paid too much, at some time.
    A friend always adds up the offered lot at his retail prices, then divides by a number to allow for his markup – more than once he has forgotten to divide! an embarassing and expensive error…

      • No website – I’m just a walk-in store, at 275 High St Northcote, Victoria, Australia, open 11AM to 10PM seven days a week, specialising in ‘worst sellers’ 😀

        Yes, I buy books and accept donations.. but only if I genuinely believe that someone would be happy to see them.
        My only rule when I started was “No jeffrey Archer, and no Liver Cleansing Diet”. Tragically, I am now grateful to sell either…

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