Extra cash, straight from my bookshelf

A couple of months ago I was looking at all the books on my bookshelf, and wondering why I was keeping them. As much as libraries make the most sense for the frugal reader, I'm just not a fan of dirty books. So I buy my fair share of books new from online sources. But what about when I'm done with them?

They go onto my bookshelf with all the other. There are about 30% of them that I want to keep and have read more than once. The rest of them are taking up space, and I have no good reason to really stay there. So why not sell them? Selling your books to a used book store is one option, but everything I've read indicates that you'll get about 50 cents to $1 per title, if you're lucky.

If doing a little extra work doesn't turn you off, selling your books on Half.com (an eBay company) can get you a better return on your investment. You still won't get a ton of money. Plan on selling a book that cost you $15 or $20 for $3 to $7. If you can make more than that, congratulations, but that seems to be the most reasonable range to expect. Half.com collects shipping fees for you, and you can send the books via U.S. Postal Service Media Mail at a reasonable cost.

I listed about 60 books on Half.com, and priced them at the lower end of the range other sellers were offering for the same titles, hoping that offering a bargain would mean a quicker sale. Listing books is pretty easy once you get the hang of it, so it only took me a couple of hours to get all the titles listed.

My inventory sits on the site until it sells, and I have also chosen to include my listings on eBay (although none have sold there). I've averaged about $5 profit on each book sold, which doesn't seem like much, but it's more cash than I had when I had useless books sitting on my shelves. The time delay can also be a drawback to selling on Half.com. You're at the mercy of what book buyers are searching for, and it can take months to sell your books (if you ever sell them at all).

If you're looking for some easy cash, this seems like a no-brainer to me. Get rid of books you'll never look at again, make some space on your bookshelf for other books, and get a little something back for the books.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.
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