Now there is a question. The one we usually get is, “Where can I buy Troubles books in Belfast?” and the simple answer to that is either in our shop at 112 York Road, Belfast, BT15 3HF, from our website or on our #BookshopDotOrg Storefront which has 100,000s of in-print titles on offer, usually around 7% cheaper than RRP.
Another question we're sometimes asked is, 'Where can I donate used books for cash in Belfast?' or 'Is there a Belfast bookshop that buys books'. Here's a simple answer to bother questions, "sometimes to us" if the books are something we are interested in, but first you need to read the following...
We have what's called a 'buy list', which is essentially a list of different books categories or genres that we are in the market to buy. That list rarely changes, and at present (March 2022) we're in the market to buy Troubles books, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, classics and history non fiction. Not Readers Digest, not Encyclopaedia Britannica, not chick lit, not gardening books, not crime fiction, not cookery, not academic textbooks - just what's on our buy list. There's a simple reason for us being so picky - 7 years of buying and selling used books in Belfast has taught us what people want and what they want to pay for their books. With crime fiction they expect to pay 20p to £1 for used books as charity shops and car boot sales are flooded with books like this, so us selling them in a retail shop for pence isn't a great idea at all, hence why we dont buy those type of books, and if we received them as a donation the vast majority of them get recycled into charity by us.
If you're stuck with any of the books not on our buy list, and you want to get paid for your used books, Gumtree Northern Ireland has a books section. The only problem with Gumtree is that people seem to think their books are made of gold, and because they are listed on Amazon as £14.87 used, they think that £13 cash is a fair price, totally neglecting that Amazon has a Sales Rank system, and used books that are priced that high are SLOOOOOOOWWWWWW movers, out of print stuff or something else. Phew, that was a long sentence. You get what I mean though' - most ads for books on Gumtree should show 'Fantasy Island' as the sellers location. It’s also worth reflecting that the reason you can see the Gumtree, Amazon and Ebay prices is because the items haven’t sold for the price the seller is asking for them.
From feedback from Gumtreers and from over 70 months of our own data, here's what sells on Gumtree - single non fiction books at £2 or below, ONLY if they are priced at £7 or more used on Amazon Marketplace. Not encyclopaedias, not hardback fiction, not multiple books, just single non fiction books priced at £2 or less. And even then, you'll sell one out of every ten you list...if you're lucky. There's a lot of work involved in that and as they say, time is money.
Here's a reality check...most mass market fiction and non fiction books are available used on Amazon for £2 odd including free postage, and there are dozens of sellers at that price or thereabouts. These sellers then dispatch the books to you using their chosen postal method. They make a few tens of pence on the transaction after Amazon referral fee, shipping, packaging and labour costs. They sell millions of books, so the volume makes up for the low unit profit.
So it doesn't take you to have a Masters in economics to realise that anyone buying books to sell online or in store like we are, will not be paying you anywhere close to what you paid for the book originally. We appreciate that you may have paid a tidy sum for the books, but equally you could have blagged them from somewhere or been given them in part exchange for something, or picked them up for pence from a charity shop.
If you cant accept that the books are now worth pence rather than £s, then have a go yourself and see how that works out for you. If you get the books sold to a friend, family member or someone in a pub, all power to you, but you kinda stroked that vulnerable individual who unlike us, knows nada about the second hand book market.
Of course, as an alternative, try any of the websites buying books. Good luck with that one too. All that scanning and boxing and posting and waiting and rejections and blah de blah de blah. Doesn't get you cash in hand, but does get you an incredibly sore hand, and a flat phone battery scanning in hundreds of books using your smartphone camera.
And of course feel free to try eBay. Just be honest about what you made after fees, re-listing fees, final value fees, PayPal fees and suchlike. And the hit you had to take on the postage because the book wouldn't go Royal Mail large letter slot. And also value your time in photographing, listing and general faffing. Unless you've got expensive books you're likely to have made a loss on the exercise.
If you live in Belfast or thereabouts, we will look at the books for you if you bring them to us, but we are a business, and if we can't do a deal because we can't turn the books round quickly for a profit, we'll pass on your books this time.
An alternate course of action is to do what a lot of people do, which is to donate the books to us. We then act as community recyclers and go through them, seeing what books we can sell online or in-store, and recycling the rest into local charities, schools, nursing homes and the like.