First, figure out what acim you want to get rid of. Take all the books off your shelves that you won’t read again or won’t ever get around to reading. Don’t forget cookbooks you never use and children’s books your kids have grown out of. Then, do some research to figure out what your local used bookstore specializes in.
Do they mostly carry fiction and poetry? Or are they into biographies and self help? Depending on what you have in your personal library, you may need to find more than one store to take all of your books. Out of date reference books like atlases and encyclopedias will probably be rejected, unless they are unique or collectible in some way. Most bookstores will pay more for recent releases in good condition, the exception being extremely popular back titles of authors such as John Grisham or Dan Brown, since they usually already have tons of those.
Once you have the books culled from your collection, make sure they are clean and in the best condition you can get them in. Take a moment to dust them off, check for dog-eared pages, erase any pencil markings and remove Post Its stuck to pages. Most stores don’t want highlighted or otherwise annotated texts.
Call ahead to the used bookstore to check when they accept customer trade-ins. Often they will only accept them on weekdays, since weekends are busier. Sometimes they have a special buyer who is only in the store on certain days of the week. Some only take books by appointment, especially for larger amount of books. While you are finding out when to bring in your books, also ask what types of books they most welcome and which they don’t ever take. Some stores don’t accept cookbooks, while others shun fiction. Do your homework and be prepared to go to more than one store to unload all of your books.
Decide if you want cash or store credit for your books. Some stores offer credit exclusively, so be prepared to make a trade. Other stores offer a better rate of return if you choose credit, often as much as 25% more than cash. If you are a frequent book buyer, then credit might be a better way to go. On the other hand, cash is cash.
On the day you are going to take your books in, take a look at the weather. If it is raining, it isn’t a good day to bring in your books. Some booksellers don’t accept books at all on rainy days, since the process of getting them from car to store can make books wet. Save this errand for a sunny day.
Put the books in sturdy bags with handles or small boxes for easy carrying. Even if you only have a few, transport them in a bag to protect them on your way to the bookstore. Get a friend to help you if you have a lot of books. The bookstore staff will not help you transport the books into the store.
Make sure you understand how the bookstore staff is evaluating your books for resale. Often they will offer you a percentage of what they believe they will sell the book for, not a percentage of the cover price. Ask what their formula is before you begin. If you think you can get more for a specific book elsewhere, don’t be afraid to bargain. However, the bookstore employees are experts at pricing and know what the market for each type of book is, so when in doubt, defer to their judgment.
Don’t forget to be pleasant and polite to all bookstore staff. They will be more likely to accept your books in the future if you maintain a friendly and professional attitude. Take pride in the fact that you are allowing your books to find new homes and freeing up space in your own home. If you traded your books in for store credit, don’t forget to use it! Even if you don’t need a book, used bookstores can be great places to find unusual gifts.