Why is it so difficult to sell my books?

Ever wondered why it's hard to on-sell your old books to second hand or old book stores?

Currently it is difficult for the private seller of general secondhand books to sell them. Notice we said “general second hand books” and notice we said “currently”. This is because it is still quite possible to sell rare and collectible books. It is understandable that anyone with limited experience of the secondhand and antiquarian book trade can say “but I don’t know what is rare and collectible I just have these old books and someone must want them”. Unfortunately the truth is most people don’t.

From the point of view of economic theory, it's a matter of supply and demand.

On the supply side the volume of general secondhand books potentially available for sale is growing. This is largely because two generations of readers and collectors are downsizing at once. Those in their 80s and 90s are moving into aged care and those in their 60s and 70s are downsizing into apartments from their former larger homes. At the same time on the demand side, there has been a general fall in demand for real books due to the availability of ebooks and e-readers; changes in leisure pursuits and falling real incomes. Any HSC economics student will tell you that increased supply combined with a fall in demand leads to a fall in price.

From the bookseller’s point of view, who is conducting their business through a bricks and mortar store they are not only faced with increased business expenses but they selling a commodity with a falling demand and for which they may have to accept a lower price. Therefore they are only interested in stocking books that have a strong collector interest and consequently a higher demand.  This is why they are not prepared to buy the common and general books no matter how valuable the literature or information within.

Will this be the situation for the long term?

At Love Vintage Books we believe this to be the case. And that is why we are so particular about the stock we buy from private sellers.

Posted on March 1, 2018 and filed under Selling Books.