Dear BiblioBull – how much you pay?

Dear Bibliobull –

I’ve been in the business since last August, I was just wondering if any of you would be willing to share what you use as a baseline amount (I know it can go up/down depending on condition/availability/etc.) for purchasing used books from your customers


Dear NooB –

As with all things it depends on the book and they type of store and stock you already have have.

In take em or leave em box lots, $2-$5 for normal trade stock is about right. Of course a few dollars more for ‘better’ books, if you are paying less perhaps the books aren’t worth the shelf room. The better you pay the better books people will bring you. But do your research you can go broke quick overpaying for books you think you can sell, instead of books you KNOW you can sell. If you are very new don’t get overanxious about building up your inventory with slush, don’t worry the books WILL come. You want to build it book by book for quality, not quantity.

Generally for box lots, the customer leaves the boxes for you to examine and research and then comes back to take the offer or the books. If they don’t come back you DO have to store them for 30 days sometimes longer depending on your state, it’s good to have a rock solid policy about that before hand. Sometimes people KNOW their books are shit and just forget about them, until the next time they drive by, then remember and drop in. You will find their books have improved in their memory, if you got rid of them be ready to pay them for their real value, even if it was only $5. Always get their contact info and let them know what you are going to do. If you KEEP the books, send them a check, if you dump them, make a list and take pictures before hand. Remember CYA at all times.

Buying them individually is tricker as it should be a percentage of your shelf price. The longer you think the book will sit on your shelf the lower the percentage you pay. If it is a book you can turn over in a heartbeat, you pay a larger percentage. Remember you are paying for that shelf space every month. If you want to encourage scouts to bring you better books, you pay a little more than anyone else.

If it is a significant book and you recognize it as such, you can’t get away with paying a few dollars for say a 500 dollar book. That’s actually a crime. The law assumes you automatically know more than your customer and are therefore in a position of authority. So, you do some basic research and pay in the ballpark of 30-50% of fair market value. (usually the lowest price you find)

If that is more than you can afford offer to broker it for the customer, you take it and then sell it for them to another dealer or put it on the shelf, then you get to keep 20 to 50% of the sale price. Do up a form letter contract for those deals and take pictures of the items AT intake.

A good bookseller practice is that if you find that a book is valuable after the customer leaves is to contact them and give them a bonus. You don’t have to tell them WHAT it was worth, but just say it was worth more than you had thought.
This engenders trust and will ensure they send you more customers. It also helps one sleep at night.

Biblio Bull-

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