Book buyback is one good way to prolong the life cycle of a book while getting some of the cash you spent on it back. However, not all books are created equal. Sometimes you get a good buyback offer for a textbook and no offer for a piece of fiction. Why is it so? Let’s take a look at a practical case.

Typical Buyback Example

You’re going to sell textbooks and other used books on BookScouter. You want to sell books online rather than lug them to a bookstore. You’re parting with two textbooks ( Cengage Advantage Books: Law for Business and  Understanding Criminal Law (Understanding Series) , a cookbook ( Boards: Stylish Spreads for Casual Gatherings), and a well-loved, hardback copy of The Hunger Games. You enter the books’ ISBNs into the search field to learn what buyback vendors are paying:

BookScouter book buyback process illustrated

At best, your textbooks will bring $49.58 and $21.25, the cookbook, $5.67, and the fiction? Almost nothing: $0.14, and there is just one offer. You wonder why vendors don’t want to buy your book, one of the best-selling works of the past decade. Surely, someone else would like to own and read it? Could BookScouter be wrong?

The thing is that more than 23 million print and digital copies of The Hunger Games have been launched into the reading universe since the book was published in 2008. That’s enough for everyone in Georgia and North Carolina to have their own copy.

Why Your Book Isn’t a Favourite with Buyback Companies

The thing is that most of the buyback companies will send you a prepaid label so you can package and send them your books. Let’s say you paid $7 for your copy of The Hunger Games, and the buyback vendor is offering $4. The shipping cost is $4. For the buyback company to make money, it would have to charge at least $12, to recover the cost of shipping and to make some money.

Who’s going to pay $12 when he or she can find the book, as you did, for $7? Or even buy a used copy for as little as $1?

Where to Sell Fiction, Then?

By and large, fiction brings less profit than textbooks when it comes to online buying and selling books. So you can consider turning it in at a paperback exchange, donating, or recycling it. Dealing with fiction is so difficult that only one of our 30+ buyback vendors, Powell’s Books , will consider accepting some fiction.

  • So, you can try Powells. They accept more books than anyone else; however, there is a catch. You should keep in mind that they only accept books in excellent condition. No bent pages, no tiny scratches, nothing. Unless your book is literally like new, Powells won’t pay you.
  • Next, if you have a signed, first edition copy of The Hunger Games or another fiction title with the same characteristics, you can try Abebooks or a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America and see how much your book is worth. First editions and signed copies add value to fiction books.
  • Alternatively, you can use BookScouter’s Recently Searched High-Value Books tool.

BookScouter Recent High-Value Books tool: example

The tool allows you to know what books are in high demand at the moment and look for such books within a certain price range. You can open the tool and see the list of the most expensive options first. Perhaps, you are lucky to have a copy of  Jock Sturges: Life Time, but you are not that into photography and will happily pass it to someone who does—for a reward, of course. In this case, you’ll be pleased to know that its best current buyback price is  $151.00  among all BookScouter vendors. Another example: someone has given you  Modernist Bread  as a gift, but you clearly don’t need the volumes, or you are moving. The best vendor price at BookScouter for it is  $125.00 . So what we suggest is you just check the Recently Searched High-Value Books tool for different price ranges, and perhaps, you’ll see appealing offers for the books that you have on your shelves.

The Bottom Line

Now you know why buyback companies set different prices for books and why fiction doesn’t usually cost much (and sometimes even nothing) compared to textbooks (especially STEM subjects textbooks). Next time you decide to get rid of some of your used books and textbooks, you won’t be surprised by the difference in buyback offers and will know how to deal with the books you have in the best possible way.