Looking to de-clutter your books and make some money in the process?


If your bookshelves are full, you can’t find the books you want to read, and you’re running out of space as they start taking over your home, then it could be time to get rid of a few!

But what are your options if you want to make a bit of cash as you de-clutter? Are books actually worth anything? Take a stroll round any car boot sale, or charity shop, and most books are being sold for a few pence – 10p, 20p, 50p at most.

Books have been top of my hit-list for de-cluttering, and I’ve made about £140 over the past couple of months selling about 150 books.

So what are your options if you, too, are looking to rid yourself of your once prized possessions?

1/ Friends and family

OK, this is not selling. However, I’m putting it top of the list because unless you’re sitting on a rare collectable you’re unlikely to make a fortune selling your books. Giving books to friends or family won’t bring you any cash, but the warm, fuzzy feeling you get from gifting a book to someone you like is probably better!

2/ Go online  

Sell online via one of the many websites that provide instant valuations for your books. These only work if your books are in good condition and have ISBNs.

How do they work?

You enter the ISBN on the website, and you’ll be told straight away exactly what they’ll pay. This is a great way of discovering just how little your books are worth! As an example, I had an unread as-new copy of Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’, and the highest price I could find was 18p!

Gather up a large pile of your unwanted books, as you need to meet either a minimum quantity or value of books, say 10 books, or £5, and prepare for lots to be rejected! Steel yourself for a mind-numbing, frustrating couple of hours, depending on how many books you have, as you discard book after book.

Once you successfully reach the minimum criteria (assuming you do…), postage is free, which is a big bonus if you have large, heavy books. Box them up – not the most stress-free process I discovered, as there are maximum permitted box sizes, and my books wouldn’t fit…. – then take them off to your nearest Collect+ store, a local newsagents in my case.

You’ll be given a receipt, can track delivery, and then sit back and wait for payment, either into your bank account, paypal or a cheque. Note that they’ll check the books on arrival, and will refuse to pay or return if the condition is poor.

Just which websites offer this service?

I tested a few – www.musicmagpie.co.uk, www.zapper.co.uk, and www.ziffit.com – but others you might want to try are www.webuybooks.co.uk, www.fatbrain.co.uk, and www.sellitback.com.

Of the three I tested, www.musicmagpie.co.uk gave the lowest valuations, so I ended up focusing on Zapper and Ziffit.

Zapper vs Ziffit

Ziffit: This was my favourite, by which I mean it offered consistently the highest prices. You can sell books, cds, dvds and games, and it’s good if you don’t have many books to sell as there’s a minimum order of just 10 items, or less if £5 or more in value. They’ll take boxes up to 15kg, and will send a free courier if heavier. There’s an app to scan the barcode, which might make the process less painful – I manually entered them though. The site is user-friendly – white and orange, and the list builds on screen. They rejected one of my paperbacks for having a torn cover – which it did – and it took 14 days from placing the order to receiving payment, which was £19.03.

Zapper: This was my second favourite site. It’s garish yellow, and your list builds on-screen. You can sell not just books, cds, dvds, and games, but also lego, mobiles and electronics. The minimum value is £10, which is quite hard to reach, and the box can weigh up to 10kg. They say that paperback fiction especially pre-2000 is likely to be rejected, while student textbooks, non-fiction and books from the last decade are most likely to be accepted. I had one book rejected for a torn cover, and a dvd box set rejected for a cracked disc. I stupidly hadn’t checked the dvds before sending as the set was hardly used and in excellent condition to my knowledge, possibly it was damaged in transit, but am annoyed as I only added this to make up the value. I basically gave it away for nothing. It took 21 days from placing the order to receiving payment, which was £8.65.

3/ Sell on eBay

Not very original, but I sold a few books this way. Possibly a good way of selling rare books, but in my experience it’s not very profitable, and is time-consuming.  I sold most for the grand sum of 99p each, and I’ve had to wait and re-list multiple times. It’s also easy to under-charge on postage, so make sure you weigh each book before listing. However, you do get the pleasure of some interaction / feedback from the person you’re selling to, which might appeal if you find the likes of Zapper and Ziffit a bit faceless.

4/ Contact book sellers directly via www.abebooks.co.uk

I used this for older books that were published pre-ISBN codes, and it’s a great way of getting rid of more collectable books that might not be in perfect condition because of their age.

I’d try calling local book shops first but, if like me, there aren’t many local book shops left, and they don’t accept second-hand books, you may find AbeBooks more successful.

AbeBooks is a website where you can search for specific titles you’re looking to buy, but it’s also a great way of finding dealers in your area. I say ‘great’, as in theory you should be able to click on the ‘Booksellers’ tab to search for sellers by name, country or location. The search didn’t work for me though, beyond filtering to UK sellers. When I filtered then by county I was told that ‘there are no bookstores that match your criteria’. I should probably have contacted their customer service team, but couldn’t be bothered, so manually scrolled through some of the list of nearly 1,700 sellers, and called a few up who were sort-of-local!

Take a photo of your books, and email it across to sellers who express an interest. I had a couple say no, but then one offered me £100 for about 45 books if I dropped the books to him (I did, despite the long-ish drive…), or £50 for him to collect from me.

5/ Charity shops

I’ll end in the same way I started, with another option that’s not selling! However, there’s something quite depressing about getting rid of items at a price below which you think they’re worth. If you’re struggling with this, and it’s holding you back from getting on with de-cluttering, then the feeling that you’re helping a good cause could be just what you need!

What would you recommend?

£140 isn’t much when I look at the number of hours I’ve spent sorting, valuing, boxing, and driving, but I’ve cleared some space, and cash to go some way towards building a new wall-to-wall bookshelf…!

It’s likely I’ll consider selling more books over the coming months, so would love to hear of other ways you’d recommend to sell them!

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