First and foremost, keep in mind that used book stores are businesses, and that means they don't buy just anything. The worker looking through your books has flipped through thousands upon thousands of books and has a pretty solid idea of what will sell and what won't. So as much as you would like to get a little money for that old university textbook you highlighted to high heaven, they aren't likely to be interested. To get the most money you can for your books, make sure they look their best. If a book is bent out of shape, lay it between a couple of large, heavier books to flatten it out. If the cover is dirty or dusty, wipe it down with a damp cloth, and leave it to air-dry. Think about how it would look to you sitting on a bookstore shelf or after a quick skim through its pages — would you buy it? If the answer is no, try to clean it up however you can. If a book is damaged in a way that can't be undone, be prepared to hear that they aren't interested.
You might be trying to sell a few books that are hard to part with, and hearing that they're worth just a couple of dollars or nothing at all can sting. But the low price could be due to a number of factors. It could simply be that the bookstore has too many copies of the book already. Or it could be that yours is an earlier edition than what they're looking for. A multitude of factors can diminish a book's value, so don't take it personally if yours isn't worth what you'd hoped.
Keep in mind that bookstores manage to offer so many great deals because they buy the books for low prices. You know that awesome novel you scored for just five bucks? It was likely bought off someone for under a dollar so the bookstore could make a worthwhile profit. So don't be disappointed when you off-load five pristine-looking books for under $10. You managed to declutter and make a profit in the process — and that's worth celebrating!
Although specialty used book stores will appreciate a rare book or one with particular historical value, the average shop won't necessarily be equipped to give you the high price you might be looking for. If you think a book in your possession might be of serious value, get it appraised by a few experts before you part with it.
The average used book store is better suited for books you just need to get rid of. When you pick the books you want to sell, be committed to their departure no matter what happens. If you decide you'll let go of them only for a certain price, you might wind up with nothing to show for your efforts. By choosing books you know need to go regardless of the price offered, you can increase your chances of a successful venture. And if the bookstore isn't interested in buying some of them? Pick out a thrift store nearby, and donate them on your way home. That way, no matter the outcome, the books will be off your hands and ready to make someone else's day.
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