Reviews and comparison of the popular book buying sites Amazon Trade-In, Zapper, Ziffit, We Buy Books, AbeBooks, FatBrain and Momox.
****Update October 2021: Since I wrote this post I’ve started up BookSpiffy.com, a website all about moving on your old and secondhand books with loads of ideas for what you can do with them, whether it’s selling them or other options. An updated version of this post, and more on the same topic is included here: UK Online Book Buyers Reviews.****
When trying to create some extra space by purging my office and the rest of our home of some of the hundreds of books we’ve amassed over the years I started to look at options for selling them. I could sell them on ebay or open an Amazon shop but really wanted something easier that wouldn’t require the hassle of listing items and managing the sales, and certainly can’t be bothered getting up at stupid o’clock to haul them all to a car boot sale. It’s not something I’ve ever looked into before so was pleased to come upon a range of websites who specialise in buying second hand books for a fixed price. The ones that kept coming up in search results for UK sellers were these 7:
But which is best? As an experiment I picked a selection of mixed books that we’d like to sell to see what offers I’d get from the various book buying sites, what sort of books sell best where, and how the process works in each case.
The books I looked at fell into a number of categories:
a. academic text books, mainly psychology, economics and management topics
b. business, management and self-help books of a less academic nature
c. some very old and collectable books on philosophy, politics and sociology topics
d. general interest non-fiction – travel, health, art etc
I selected 302 books in total across these categories and went to see what each of the websites would offer me. I read all their help files and scouted around forums to see what comments I could pick up about them all. Below are my findings, conclusions on the sites and how best to use them.
First here are some numbers:
Book buying sites - comparing my offers
|We Buy Books||Amazon Trade-In||Ziffit||Fatbrain||AbeBooks||Zapper||Momox|
|No. offers made||35 (12%)||26 (9%)||51 (17%)||16 (5%)||5 (2%)||50 (17%)||0|
|Average per book||£1.12||£2.62||£1.20||£2.63||£3.94||68p||0|
|Top single price||£6.94||£13.50||£6.69||£9.10||£7.80||£4.08||0|
|Lowest single price||1p||25p||30p||75p||75p||20p||0|
- Ziffit and Zapper made a greater number of offers than the rest. AbeBooks and FatBrain made the least.
- The highest total offer was from Amazon Trade-In, who combined both relatively high prices and a reasonable number of offers.
- The best average prices were offered at AbeBooks. But then they offered on so few books that there were no lower priced items to bring the average down. Next best prices were at FatBrain and Amazon Trade-In with an average price of about £2.60 per offer. WeBuyBooks and Ziffit were a fair bit lower at around £1.20, and Zapper much lower on average than the rest at well under £1 per item on average.
- The highest single offer I received was £13.50 on an academic book from Amazon Trade-In, and the lowest just 1p for a novel at We Buy Books.
- Momox didn’t make offers on ANY of the 302 books, not even the ones for which I had decent offers at all the other sites. If anyone has managed to sell books to them I’d be very interested to hear about your experience. I won’t be bothering with them again though.
Offers by Type of Book (%)
|We Buy Books||Amazon Trade-In||Ziffit||Fatbrain||AbeBooks||Zapper||Momox|
|Academic & business||28%||14%||26%||9%||2%||24%||0|
- It transpired that groups a and b (academic and work related text books) had most appeal to the buying sites.
- Group c (old collectable books) cannot be sold that way, partly because they don’t generally have ISBN numbers, which all the sites required, but also because you really need specialist buyers to get the best price.
- Group d (general interest) did produce a few offers but the prices were low compared to the more academic books.
- On Group e (fiction) at most I received offers on 6% of them (from WeBuyBooks), but the prices were so low as to be not worth bothering with. There happened to be 1 paperback that they were all willing to buy, but even there the best offer I had was £1.02.
Overall Conclusions and Tips:
- The process is basically the same in all of the sites; you enter the ISBN’s or bar codes, they tell you what offers if any they’re prepared to make on those books, if you’re happy with it you accept the offer, they send you a postage label, you package and send the books to them by their designated method, they receive and check them, and assuming your books are accepted they pay you the agreed price.
- In all cases the postage is ‘free’, that is to say they take account of the postage within their offer.
- The books they wanted, and the prices they offered varied quite a bit across the sites. The sites also varied in the ease of use (eg some had Apps that let you scan bar codes rather than having to type them in), the postage and payment systems, and what happens if they reject books when they arrive.
- It’s extremely easy in all cases to both set up an account and sell your books.
- The sites with bar code scanners (Ziffit, Zapper and Amazon) are easiest to use, otherwise you have to manually enter your codes.
- The fact is that all of these services will offer you substantially less than you could potentially earn by selling your books via eBay, BUT it’s a lot less hassle and (assuming the condition meets their requirements) the prices are guaranteed.
- You will probably find that a fairly low percentage of your books attract offers. I had offers on only 9-17% of my books on the sites.
- Across all of them, I got the most offers on academic, management and technical type books.
- Very few fiction books receive offers.
- To get the best price on any given book you need to check it on all the sites. The difference between their offers can be substantial. For the reason above, I’d say it’s worth having accounts at all the sites I tested (apart from Momox).
- Some of the sites have minimum order levels. The highest was Momox at £20.
- Be realistic about the condition of your books. They’ll be rejected if they’re not in decent nick and in some cases you won’t get them back if they are rejected. Check the particular site’s terms and conditions to see exactly what they’ll accept, some are more picky than others.
- Take care when entering the book’s details. It matters which edition you have. If your code is on a sticker rather than directly on the book it may turn out not to be the correct one for that exact edition.
- If the book originally came with a dust cover or extras such as a CD, on these sites you’ll need to have those things or it may well be rejected.
- Bear in mind that the offers made vary from one day to the next. If you don’t take up their offer immediately it may vary, up or down.
- Payment methods and speeds vary. Payments are via one or more of; bank transfer, Paypal, cheque. I haven’t yet sent any books in so it remains to be seen how they’ll compare on speed of payment. However, judging by the forum posts it could take anything from a few days to several weeks to get your money.
- Amazon are different from the rest in that they pay with gift vouchers into your account rather than cash. I don’t mind this as I’m always buying from Amazon but it won’t suit everyone.
- None of them take books that don’t have an ISBN code, so no really old books. If you have old books to sell you need to use another method. In some cases you can contact the site directly via email with your books’ details. Or you can think about creating your own eBay or Amazon seller listings.
- If you have a special book you think may be worth quite a bit you’re better off going to a specialist site eg Blackwells or AbeBooks. I’ll be looking into those another time.
Bottom Line – who’s best?
If I had to pick just one of them, personally I’d go for Amazon Trade-In. They give better prices than most, a reasonable number of offers and most importantly free return of rejects. I don’t mind being paid in Amazon vouchers. Of the cash paying sites if I could only use one I’d pick Ziffit, because whilst their average rate is not the best they offer on more books so you’ll not only clear more space but end up with a higher total payout, also the scanner is very handy. Plus their feedback was probably a bit more positive than the rest. But as I say, to maximise your return and get rid of as many as you can you’d ideally need to use all of them and be canny about what you send where.
So now I’m planning to sell each of my books to whichever site offers the best price as long as I can hit their minimum order levels. I’ll separate out the ones that have been offered a good price (ie several pounds) by at least 2 of the sites and will look at selling them by a different means.
I’ll then be investigating what to do with the older books.
And then I’ll look at what to do about the books I didn’t get any offers on – that is, the vast majority of them!