This weekend my wife and I were doing a little cleaning and decided to clear out some books, movies, etc. that were basically just clutter. We like going to Half Price Books because you can find some great deals there on used books, movies, and other forms of media (check out their bargain bin!). They also buy things to stock their store. We hadn’t sold anything to them before, so I figured we should give it a try.
We took a large box filled with a couple DVDs, The Star Wars collection on VHS, several hardcover books, several paperback books, and some old textbooks. I think we must have brought about 30 books and other items into the store. They evaluate your items while you shop around, then they call you up to the counter when your offer is ready.
How much was our offer? $15. That was lower than I expected, but I was not surprised. I’m sure there is some proprietary software they use to determine how much they can resell the items for. Turnover for most of these items is low and it takes them awhile to recoup their expenditures. I estimate they offer only about $.25 on the dollar, depending on the popularity of the items. They also told me the textbooks would go straight to the recycling bin because they had no resale value (they were all over 10 years old), and the libraries would not even want them. Some of the hardcover books we brought in were actually purchased from their dollar clearance rack, so I wasn’t expecting much for them either (even though they were good books!).
I ended up accepting their offer, but my wife and I purchased some books and DVDs from the store, so it ended up being a coupon and not cash! I know the value of our items was a lot more than what we were paid, but it came down to a matter of convenience. I was already there, and these were items we didn’t want in our house anymore. I estimate the retail value of our items would have been around $60-75, so we got a little less than we would have had we donated them and received a tax deduction.
While I love shopping at Half Price Books because of their bargains and proximity to my house, I do not think I will ever sell to them again. For the paltry sum of money we received (which we didn’t actually receive as we spent it right away), I would rather give the books and other items to friends and relatives or donate them to the library or Goodwill. The last two places will give a receipt which is good for a tax deduction. I think I also would have felt better had I donated them, not just for the tax deduction, but because I enjoy giving. Next time, I will give them away.