How to Hold a Used Book Sale

Do you have a ton of books that you'd love to get rid of? No problem. This article will show how to construct a used book sale.


  1. Image titled Hold a Used Book Sale Step 1
    Gather all the books. Call up friends, neighbors, teachers, relatives, whoever. Get those books! Prepare a storage space for the books such as your basement or the garage. Get as many books as possible, but be careful not to add any worm-infected books into your stock (discard them in the garbage and get them out of the house immediately). The 'collection' process may take a week or two. Be patient and try your best. Ask someone to help you judge if you have unknowingly been given a valuable antique!
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    Sort the stock. Separate the trashed books -- paperbacks without covers, books with broken spines or missing pages. Nobody wants to read these. If they have great illustrations and some artist might be able to use them, make a separate section called "Damaged Books, Cheap!" so somebody doesn't accidentally buy a book that will disappoint them later. Paperbacks can be put into paperback recycling, but the glue in the spines of hardcover books makes them not recyclable, so do everyone a favor and throw the damaged ones away before the sale. Trying to sell trashed books makes the rest of the Book Sale look cheap, and makes the good-enough books look worse, not better.
  3. Image titled Hold a Used Book Sale Step 3
    Categorize the books. There are several ways of doing this: by author, subject, or title. Subject is probably the best, since people don't always know the author or title of books they would want. Place children's books in one box, horror in another, romance in yet another, etc. Keep going until every last book has been categorized. Put them into boxes (preferably shallow ones) with the spine facing up so people can read the titles without having to paw through the box and make it messy.
  4. Image titled Hold a Used Book Sale Step 4
    Price the books. Time to gather fair prices. Look at the back. What was the original price? Is the book in good condition? Ask yourself questions like that, then mark the book with a sticker with the price written on it and drop it back into its proper box. Or, even easier, post signs saying "Hardcovers $1, large paperbacks 75 cents, small paperbacks 50 cents (unless priced otherwise)."
  5. Image titled Hold a Used Book Sale Step 5
    Display. Set out your boxes on the lawn on tables. Make sure to label each box. Set out a special area labeled "Suggested Reading" or "Special Books" where you will place your best books. Make sure they look nice and semi-new even. Make sure to have a list of price ranges on one of the tables as well.
  6. Image titled Hold a Used Book Sale Step 6
    Advertise. Put up signs around the neighborhood with information about the sale. Remember to mention the charity or good cause you are supporting. You will need to include your address and the time and date of the sale. Call friends and neighbors, inviting them to come. You can even make invitations and send them by snail mail or email.
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    Will you allow "early birds"? Dealers will show up early to try to buy up all your best books. Will you let people start before the posted time, or not? If not, set up a line to keep everyone orderly and let them know they can start browsing at the appointed time.
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    Watch out for thieves. If you think someone is stealing, nicely ask them, "Have you paid for those already? Who did you give your money to?" If they're shady, they will probably give some excuse and leave the books there.
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    Decide if you will give volume discounts. If someone comes up with an entire box of 20 paperbacks that might cost $15, you could say, "How about $10 for the whole box?" and make them very happy. Make sure everyone who is working on the sale knows the policy, and appoint one person as the "final authority" in case a customer starts to argue.
  10. Image titled Hold a Used Book Sale Step 10
    Dispose of the leftovers. You are likely to have a lot of leftover books. Keep in mind that if nobody wanted them at your sale, they're probably not great books, so don't dump trash onto another organization. At the end of the sale, sort through the books again and recycle (for paperbacks) or throw away (for hardcovers) the books that you can see that nobody will reasonably want. The rest of the books can be donated to a thrift store or library.


  • Don't be too mean about the prices you charge! A few dollars is a good amount. Don't ask for $20 or 30 unless it is absolutely necessary.
  • If the Sale is in aid of a charity or good cause, tell everyone so. It will make contributors of books (and later, buyers) more generous. You might even try to get your library to give you a few of the books they were going to discard, or a large bookstore could donate a few.
  • Affixing a sticker to any collectible or rare book may greatly reduce the value of the book. A simple alternative is to use narrow strips of paper, similar to a bookmark, that has the price written on the upper portion that will protrude from the top of the book.

Things You'll Need

  • Books
  • Paper
  • Pens
  • Stickers
  • Signs

Article Info

Categories: Garage and Yard Sales