How to Price Books at Your Yard Sale

Offer an eclectic collection of used books at your next yard sale.
Offer an eclectic collection of used books at your next yard sale. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Take advantage of online services to save time when you're deciding what to price a book for a yard sale. Online tools for pricing books have helped dealers identify market prices and recover close to fair market values at yard sales. Professional booksellers' pricing techniques help you learn the market value of your used book based on its selling price by various major online booksellers. Comparison pricing works for just about any type of book: new, used, rare, out of print, international and textbook.

Things You'll Need

  • Book inventory
  • Computer
  • Internet access

Compare book prices using the author, title or ISBN search fields at The BookFinder search engine delivers results for active trading of specific books that allow a quick comparison of market prices from major booksellers. An ISBN search retrieves the most refined results because certain books have different editions, and some author searches return a variety of title options.

Conduct a product search on a live online auction site if you are not able to find the used book on BookFinder. This may be the case for rare and out of print books, many of which do not have ISBNs.

Factor in the condition of the used book. If the book is in new to very good condition and has never been read, it might sell for its maximum market value. Damage to binding, foxing or signs of aging to pages, as well as highlights and annotations in the book, reduce its value.

Conduct a simple market demand analysis. Once you have compared the benchmark industry price for your used book, assessed its physical condition, use your own understanding about your neighbors and community preferences to assess the demand for a particular book. This may be based on the subject, such as books based on local history. Also, when establishing pricing, consider the fact that your book is being sold at a yard sale where buyers are looking for deals.

Use your knowledge about the market value of the used book in your sales negotiation, but be flexible if you want your inventory to move swiftly. Consider lightly penciling in the market price for the used book in the inside front cover or cut small strips of paper to jot down market pricing for insertion into the front cover. This will remind you of the book's general market value.

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