Sell to Us
We'll pay you cash for your books, music, movies, games, game consoles, e-readers, and you can spend this cash in the store or take it home with you. Steve Leach (a.k.a. the Buy Guy) has been a buyer for Half Price Books since 1985. During that time, he's been asked a lot of questions about how we determine the value of books and music.
We pay the most for recent bestsellers and collectibles, but we're also interested in good books, music and movies of all kinds. The primary factors we consider when buying used merchandise of any kind are: 1.) condition 2.) supply and demand.
We donate overstock inventory to nonprofit agencies around the world and strive to recycle what we can't donate.
Read the Buy Guy’s FAQ to find out more about selling your stuff to Half Price Books.
You may bring your merchandise to sell to any of our Neighborhood Locations. The buyer will ask you to present a valid form of government-issued photo identification. Sellers under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. We are not able to make estimates or offers from a list; buyers must see the actual items. If you have any questions about merchandise you want to sell, please use the form at the bottom of the Buy Guy’s FAQ page.
Book Care Tips
- Keep books out of direct sunlight. Sunlight will cause the colors of the book's dust jacket to fade.
- Keep your books dry. Humidity and dampness produce mold, which is a book problem that pretty much can't be cured. Exposure to water will also ripple pages and deform the book.
- Extreme temperatures at either end aren't good, but heat is worse, especially in a humid climate.
- Keep bugs away from your books. Some bugs like to eat them; others will leave their marks.
- Keep cats away from your books. Cats also have a habit of leaving their mark on books. It's hard to get rid of this damage. (You may be able to deodorize cat-or tobacco-befouled books by putting them in an airtight container with an air freshener for a day or two; of course, they may then smell like apple cinnamon.)
- Keep kids and other free spirits away from your books. Books should be handled carefully, with clean hands.
- Ideally, your books will be stored upright on your shelves. You want to be able to see them, maybe even read them occasionally.
- Don't lay other books on top of them.
- If you have to store your books in a garage or attic, be aware of heat. Store them in airtight, acid-free containers.
- Read your books with clean hands, preferably not while you're eating spaghetti or chocolate ice cream.
- Use bookmarks. Don't fold the pages down; don't leave the book open and upside-down; don't mark your place with your sunglasses.
- Don't write your name (or anything else) in your books. If you have to use bookplates, use nice, custom-made ones.
- Put your dust jackets in protective dust jacket covers. Dust jackets protect and improve the look (and value) of books.
- Use a feather duster to occasionally get the dust off of your books.
- If you loan your books, loan them to people who care about books as much as you do.
Think you might like to collect books?
Book collecting should reflect your own interests. Collect what you love. If you want to hold on to memories of your childhood, collect illustrated children's books. If you're an avid mystery reader, collect first editions by your favorite mystery book authors. If you want to have fine leather bindings, seek them out.
You don't have to spend a lot of money.
Of course, you can spend a lot of money on a book. If you want to collect first editions of American fiction's high points, be prepared to shell out the bucks. (And most high point first editions do continue to increase in value, sometimes dramatically.)
But you'll probably never get rich buying and selling collectible books. Just stick to what you are especially interested in, and get the best copies in the best condition, the nicest binding, and the earliest edition that you can find and afford. If the book was issued in a dust jacket, try to get a copy with a nice jacket—the dust jacket of a collectible modern first edition may account for 80% of its value.
Learn how to identify collectibles.
If you want to collect first editions, find out how the different publishers identify their first editions. They don't all print "First Edition" on the copyright page; some use number series starting with "1" or letter series starting with "A", while others just don't list any later printings. You also need to make sure the book isn't a reprint, a book club edition, or a facsimile of the first edition.
Books that are not first editions may still be collectible: look for signed editions of authors' works; limited, numbered editions; finely-bound or illustrated editions; original paperback editions or look for books containing maps or diagrams.
Keep your books dry. Control the temperature and limit the humidity in the spaces where you keep your books. Keep your books out of direct sunlight. Keep a beautiful dust jacket bright and colorful—don't let it become faded or bleached out. Protect books' dust jackets with Mylar protectors.
Keep your books pest-free. If you notice evidence of little critters around your books, take measures to eliminate them. Shelve your books so that their spines don't bend or break and their covers don't get scuffed.
Don't write your name in a collectible book; If you really want to identify a book as yours, you may use a nice bookplate. It will still devalue the book, but not quite as much.
If you have questions about collectibles, you can email the Buy Guy.
Do You Have a First Edition?
If you'd like to collect first editions of your favorite books, there are a few basic steps that can help you to build a nice collection.
Before you look up a book in a price guide or on the Internet, make sure that it's not a book club edition. Here are some characteristics of many book club editions:
- Smaller, lighter, noticeably cheaply made.
- Embossed or painted shape on the lower right rear corner.
- Plastic or paper cover rather than cloth.
- The acronym "BOMC" on the copyright page.
- No price on the front flap of the dust jacket.
- The words "Book Club Edition" on the front flap of dust jacket.
- No bar code (or there is a space at the upper right edge of the bar code where a price would normally be).
- Make sure the book isn't a reprint edition. Certain publishers print editions of books previously published by other publishers. Reprint publishers include Grosset & Dunlap, Tower and A.L. Burt. The copyright page of reprints will usually list the original publisher and publication date. Some reprints in dust jackets, including Modern Library and Grosset & Dunlap's Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and Tarzan series, are collectible.
If you think you may have a first edition, you must understand that publishers use different means of denoting their first editions. Look on the copyright page (the other side of the title page). Here are some first edition indications to look for:
- The words "First Edition" or "First Printing";
- The words "First Published" with a month and/or year;
- Number or letter series, usually beginning with "1" or "A";
- Same date on the title page and the copyright page;
- No additional printings listed.
- Alas, there are many other ways. McBride's Pocket Guide to the Identification of First Editions is a nice, compact reference for various publishers' first edition styles.
If the book appears to be a first edition, distinguish between desirable and common first editions. Here are some basic guidelines:
- If the author is well-known, make sure the title is one of the earliest by that author.
- If it's signed and/or limited, it may have extra value.
- If you haven't heard of the author, but the book looks unusual and old, it may be worth looking up. (But it may just be unusual and old. Or just old.)
- Literary authors are often more collectible than popular authors.
- Books that have won a literary prize are generally collectible.
If your book is a collectible first edition, determine its condition. All of these flaws may decrease the value of a book or keep it from being collectible:
- No dust jacket.
- Faded, torn or chipped dust jacket.
- Water stains, mold (especially devaluing flaws).
- Loose binding.
- Highlighting, underlining, bookplate, owner inscription or other markings.
- Foxing (brown "age spots").
If you have an old, interesting book, first edition or not, whose value you're wondering about, check for special features that may make it collectible:
- Does the book have a fine or leather binding?
- Does it have illustrations, maps or charts?
- Is it signed by the author? (And is the author well-known?)
- Is it a limited or numbered edition?
- Are there special interest groups—fan clubs, hobbyists, cult groups—that are interested in this book?
Buy Guy’s FAQ
We pay the most for recent best sellers and collectibles, but we're also interested in good books, music, and movies of all kinds.
We donate overstock inventory to nonprofit agencies around the world and strive to recycle what we can't donate. You may bring your merchandise to sell to any of our Neighborhood Locations. We are not able to make estimates or offers from a list; buyers must see the actual items. If you have any questions about merchandise you want to sell, please use the form at the bottom of this page.
Here are some examples of the types of questions we are often asked.
Q: What types of things do you buy?
Well, we buy books, of course—hardbacks, paperbacks, new or old. We also buy music in most formats, including CDs and LPs. We buy movies, magazines, audiobooks, videogames, game consoles, accessories and e-readers. And we buy collectible books, music, and ephemera.
Q: How does the buy process work?
All of our locations buy all types of printed and recorded merchandise, all day, every day. No appointment is necessary — just bring what you'd like to sell to a store near you. We make cash offers while you wait, and our offers are for everything you bring in-you don't have to take anything back! And you may use the cash however and wherever you like. Just remember to bring along a valid, government-issued photo ID when you bring your books, music, or movies to sell.
Determining the value of books and music isn't an exact science, but there are primary factors we always consider when buying used merchandise of any kind: condition, and supply and demand.
Q: Why do you need to see my ID when I sell to you?
Because we’re dealing in cash transactions, we need to keep records of where our money goes.
Q: What kinds of ID do you accept from customers who sell stuff?
Our policy requires a current, government-issued photo ID card. It also states that additional state or local requirements may apply. The policy notes that “a driver’s license, a military identification card or an identification card issued by a government agency” may be suitable forms of seller identification. We don’t ever need documents with your Social Security account number. Foreign documents issued by a government agency, such as a passport, also meet our ID requirements. Sellers under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Q: Why do you need my phone number when I sell to you?
We ask for your phone contact information in case there’s any need to follow up with you on the buy transaction. While it doesn’t happen often, we occasionally find personal items left in books, or find out after an offer is made that there is a book of greater value than we realized when we made the offer. This information is not seen by anyone who isn’t directly involved in the buy transaction or buy transaction supervision.
Q: Why do I have to stay in the store while you’re looking at my stuff?
We ask sellers to remain in the store to a) prevent buys from becoming mixed up, and b) to expedite our cash offers. We deal with large quantities of merchandise in limited space and want to make sure we keep track of your merchandise while it still belongs to you.
Q: Do you buy electronic devices?
We don’t buy security alarms or toasters, but we do buy electronic devices that are related to the merchandise we sell, including game consoles, e-readers and turntables. We like to make sure that the item is in good working condition and has its key accessories. E-readers should be fully charged.
Q: What about videogames and computer games?
We like to see videogames and computer games that have their original packaging. We can’t buy or sell games that have been registered to a single user or that are online use-only.
Q: Can you tell me what you'll give me for a certain book?
Not all books are equal, and, no, we don't buy by the pound. We need to actually see a book (or CD, LP, or whatever) before we can make an offer on it. It's hard to evaluate any item without seeing it and touching it, and then offer money for it. We can usually let you know in general terms how interested we are in a type of book or music; we can tell you whether or not we see it come in often, whether or not it's out-of-date, or whether or not it may have some collectible value. We want to be helpful, but we don't want to mislead you, or to make promises we can't keep.
Q: So, what kinds of books do you like to see?
Basically, our stores are going to pay a higher percentage for books we see less often. Any book that's a current bestseller is generally going to get the highest offers. Titles that are recent bestsellers, but that have been superseded by other titles, tend to be what we see the most of (such as last year's John Grisham novel). We wouldn't pay as much for those as for newer ones, because our supply would be relatively great. We also like the solid, perennial classics in every field, from fiction to kids' books to history to science; with non-fiction, the more specific the topic, the better, and with the sciences, the more advanced or technical, the better.
Q: And what kind of books do you hope not to see?
Well, let me say again that we will be happy to look at anything printed or recorded and make an offer. Some of the kinds of books we tend not to be able to pay as much for include former bestsellers; subjects that date poorly (almanacs, humor, test books, political science); older editions of textbooks and marked or slightly damaged books.
Those items we have trouble selling may end up in our Clearance section or be donated. We donate hundreds of thousands of unsold books every year to schools and non-profit organizations around the country and overseas.
Q: How many books can I bring in at one time?
There's not really a limit to the number of books you may bring in. Large quantities may take longer than our average waiting time (15-20 minutes) to be evaluated. Buyers will be on hand to assist you in bringing them into the store.
Q: What about book club editions?
Most book clubs produce inexpensive editions of popular titles, and these seldom have much resale value. Unlike many book dealers, however, we do stock them, so we won't turn you away if you bring them in. Our price on book club editions is below our average hardback price, and those that we see often are sold very inexpensively by the box as "Books By The Yard." Our offers on book club editions are based upon supply and demand. Those we have few or no copies of will warrant a little more attention at our buy table.
Q: Do you buy and sell LPs or just CDs?
CDs are our biggest-selling music format, but we do also buy and sell LPs. There is a growing segment of our customer base that loves the LP format, and thanks to so many people converting to CD and bringing us their old records, our LP supply is richer than ever—and cheaper, too! We can't pay much for most records, but there are some artists and genres we always need. We also sell cassettes, 45's, 78's and 8-tracks. We have very little demand for these formats. (But we like to have them in stock when those rabid 8-track fans show up at our doors.)
CDs you bring to us should be in their original packaging.
Among the categories of music we like to see are fifties and sixties mainstream jazz (and any jazz before that), bluegrass, blues and really anything that's unique. As far as the pop icons are concerned (Aretha, Elvis, Miles, John and Paul, and others of their stature), the earlier they are the better, and the closer an LP is to the first pressing the more desirable it is. Make sure that the records and CDs you want to sell aren't too scratched. Condition is integral to value. We may occasionally make offers on in-demand CDs that are missing their original packaging, but the offer and price will tend to be lower than an offer for a complete CD.
Q: What about movies?
The DVD format is now the dominant format for home movie viewing. We still buy and sell VHS movies, but our prices and offers have fallen off as more of our customers have converted to DVD. We are most interested in current hit movies, perennial favorites and classics, popular television series sets and foreign films. We tend to have an overstock of out-of-date hits, how-to movies, and budget titles. We get a lot of Disney movies and other kids' movies, but there are many we're still interested in. DVDs we buy must include their complete original packaging.
Q: Do your stores sell used software?
We only buy used video games and educational and children's software. We like to have the complete packaging, and as with everything else, some formats and titles sell better than others. Due to a number of software industry changes, including product activations and license agreements, we don't feel that we are able to satisfactorily guarantee used higher-end software products like office applications and operating systems, so we no longer buy them unless they're still sealed.
Q: What kinds of magazines do you buy?
We prefer the most current issues of magazines, but they tend to accumulate quickly, so we can't pay a lot for them. We are able to donate or recycle magazines we can't sell. Also, many magazines dating from the sixties and earlier are collectible and sought-after, particularly those with celebrity covers, including Life, Sports Illustrated, and most Hollywood and film-related periodicals. Any covers that feature a pop culture icon (Marilyn, Willie Mays, JFK) have a good chance of being collected by a number of people out there, and we'd be happy to evaluate them for you.
Q: If I didn't sell my textbooks back to the college bookstore, would you be interested in them?
Textbooks generally don't date very well; new editions replace earlier editions about every two years. We often donate the out-of-date textbooks brought to us to non-profit organizations. Business texts, along with sociology, computers, and government, fall at the least durable end of the textbook spectrum, while higher science, technical, and math books, as well as more academic history and literature texts tend to be timeless, and therefore of more value. As a rule of thumb, the more specific and/or scholarly the textbook's topic is, the more lasting its value.
Q: How do I know if my books are collectible?
Know the edition and know the condition. There are many features you can check to find out if your book is a first edition or another desirable edition. Check here to see a basic guide to determining editions. Now, let's say that you do have a bunch of potentially collectible first editions, maybe some mysteries from the forties and some from the eighties. How do you know if the condition is acceptable to a collector? Try to rate your books according to these categories of condition: Mint - as new; looks untouched. Fine - may have been read, but still looks new and has no defects. Very Good - shows minor signs of wear, and may have a few minor defects including: a clipped, slightly torn, or slightly chipped dust jacket; a small owner's inscription; a bookplate; a remainder mark; minor foxing (paper discoloration), minor rubbing (book cover discoloration); or bumps.
Any first edition issued with a dust jacket should have its dust jacket. The jacket accounts for about 75% of the book's value, so collectors are picky about this. If your books are lacking dust jackets, if they have major versions of the defects listed under "Very Good," if they're library copies, or if they're water-damaged, highlighted, or cracked, they're pretty much out of the running for collectibility.
Q: How important is the condition of non-collectible books I bring in?
It's a good idea to take good care of your books. Take a look at these Book Care Tips. If your books are later editions or are the types of books bought mostly for information or entertainment, condition is not as relevant – the book buyer just wants to know it's all there and doesn't smell funny. Minor wear, owner inscriptions, minimal highlighting or underlining, and other defects may reduce the amounts offered for books (and their prices in the store), but we usually can still take them.
Q: What's ephemera?
Printed ephemera are paper collectibles other than books and magazines. Items that fall into the category of "ephemera" include postcards, advertisements, movie and other posters, playbills, maps, historical documents, product labels and packages, political buttons, and many more items. They are mementos and symbols of our social and cultural history, from sheet music for "St. Louis Blues" and slave auction ads to beer bottle labels and Jimi Hendrix posters.
Q: Do you buy library books?
A: We will make offers on library books if it’s evident they’ve been withdrawn from the library, and provided the condition is acceptable and the subject matter is not oversupplied.
Have a question you don't see on this page?
ASK THE BUY GUY A QUESTION