Mar 13 2008

Selling books at Half Price Books

I had a brown grocery sack full of books that nobody seemed to want–and then I sold them for $6.50.

I had tried listing them on The listings expired before anyone tried to buy them.

Next, I tried listing them on (referral link) to see if I could give them away. No takers. For months.

I really wanted to get rid of these books, since they’re heavy, taking up space, and I’ll never read them again.

So, I decided to try my luck by taking them to Half Price Books.

Half Price Books buys and sells used books, videos, and magazines. It’s worth checking out if you like used bookstores, as you never know what you’ll find, but you can be pretty much guaranteed that the books there cost less than a regular bookstore.

If you want to sell your books to them, they scan them into their system and give you a price based on the entire lot. They won’t tell you the price of an individual book, unfortunately. Rather, they’ll say, "For your entire bag of books, we’ll give you $6.50. Take it or leave it."

Before I walked in the store, I had hoped to get at least $5 (but really just wanted to get rid of them) so I was happy.

I also sold a few magazines. The clerk told me that they pay the most for magazines currently on newsstands, so if you want to try to sell those, take them in as soon as you’ve read them. Mags older than 6 months (unless they’re a collector’s item) they probably won’t take.

Don’t cut off your address label, otherwise they won’t buy them. If it peels off, that’s fine. Instead, use a marker to black out your address. The clerk told me the store will do it if you don’t.

I made the mistake of cutting my address label off of some magazines, so those I took and donated to my library.

For $6.50, they bought about 10 books from school that I could never seem to get rid of. That’s an extra $6.50 I can "snowflake" into my emergency fund!

The bottom line:

Sell your books to Half Price Books as a last resort. You won’t get much money from your books there. First, try (if you’re willing to list and ship them) and see how they do.

If I find myself with a stack of unsellable books again, I’ll likely take them to that store.

Have you tried Half Price Books? How do you get rid of your books?

15 Responses to “Selling books at Half Price Books”

  1. Nice Blog – with good ideas. Probably will put one or the other to good use!
    Cheers, Klaus

  2. We got rid of our old school books as well as other books we had no interest in keeping on (affiliated with eBay, but there’s no auctioning involved) It was very easy to use, and had luck with about 60-75% of the books we listed, some for high prices (current-edition textbooks) and others for $2. We had the best luck listing the school books at the beginning of college semesters.The rest, we finally too to Goodwill I think– Half Priced Books was a good idea!

  3. When I lived in San Antonio I went to Half Priced Books all the time.. I loved that place… there was a really great one close to my house with an in store cat that ended up closing… I never sold any books there but I did love that store… We don’t have them in San Diego… :(

  4. is a great resource for selling books. It’s owned by Ebay and has lower fees than Good information on Half Priced Books though!

  5. is great. There are no fees to list and your listings never expire.
    You list a book, someone buys it-you get an email to send it out. Half takes a commision (I think it’s 15%)but you get the rest.

    In fact, I listed my husband’s econ book there yesterday and got notification it sold today! We’re getting almost all of what he paid for it back!

    The only downfall is that you only get paid 2x/month but it goes directly to your checking account.

    You can sell movies and cd’s there too.

  6. I feel like we’re running the same track here. I was just at Half Priced Books two days ago. I have an “outbox” for books that need to go there. I have a major problem with having too many books, which I noticed last time I moved. This prompted me to maintain my book level at a certain fixed point by getting rid of books before I take in new ones. Combine that with the wonders of public libraries, and you have access to so much near-free education it’s silly.

  7. Looks like a lot of you have had decent success with I’ll have to try them before I try Amazon the next time I want to sell my books.

    I loooove books but there’s only so many you need to own, right? I have so many that I haven’t even read yet, so I’m going to try to take care of that before I buy more. We’ll see how well that goes.

    And Jared, you’re right–libraries are the best!

  8. i buy most of my books from, finding them cheaper than half-price books, and the shipping is a flat fee instead of like ebay where sellers are charging ridiculous shipping fees. Half-price books is a favorite store of my mom and i. She and i used to love going there and spending hours (and lots of her money) on stacks of books. i have very fond memories with that store. But has the absolute cheapest books for buying.
    i should sell books. i have so many that i’ll never read again: i think i’ll be taking a trip to half-price soon, as i’m too lazy to list them all and then ship them.

  9. Another possible resource:

    Just used this, worked like a dream.

  10. I “recycle” most of my old books on Paperbackswap. It often takes a long time–two that I mailed out this week were listed for almost a year! If I’ve had a book listed for a year or more, I give up on it and bring it to Salvation Army, since those books are not usually worth the trouble to sell. Sounds like I’ve had better luck with it than you have…it’s hard to tell what’s going to get taken and what won’t.

  11. Good idea to go to Half Price. I try Paperback swap first as well. But I never thought to take what no body wanted into the Half Price. Thank you for the tip on Magazines. We get a lot of magzines for free to use up frequent flyer miles. So, I will be dropping those off for some money today for sure!

  12. Does Half Price Books offer store credit in return for your books? I try selling my books on, then after a reasonable amount of time I take them into our wonderful, huge used book store. They offer about twice as much in “trade” as they do in cash. Then whenever we’re itching for a new book or movie, we limit ourselves to what we can find there. Of course, we have a serious book addiction…

  13. I’ve gotten totally ripped off there too, but do use them. They are especially picky about dvds. However, when I went thru all the out-grown kid books and hauled them in along with a few other things I came out with $67–my record! etc require a trip to the post office or UPS Store. That pretty much ends if for me! Find [or buy] a padded envelop, remember to go to the post office, etc. Too much time.

  14. Ugh I know what you mean — I sold a HUGE box full of books there earlier this year and was given a mere $3 in return. I was furious…I really should have just kept the books, but I felt like decluttering them. I love buying books there, but they really are ripping people off in the selling department.

  15. I took a box of books to Half Price Books in Houston. I was told by the employee I talked to that they would “give an offer on the whole box, so I wouldn’t have to take any books back home” as if they were doing me a favor. I pointed out that if I brought the books individually, I’d be able to see what the offers were for each book. Another employee joined in the conversation at that point to agree with me, and told me that sometimes one can get better deals that way.

    I removed one book from the box that I was particularly interested in (and would have been interested to see what they would offer, even though I knew I would probably try to sell it online on Amazon or, a textbook that I had paid almost $100 for just a few months before.

    They offered me 17 dollars for the other books, and I rejected the offer. One of the books in there was another book that I could have gotten a lot more from online. I never asked about the book I had held back.

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

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