Volunteer Effort Supports Library Through eBay Sales

Posted Aug 4, 2015

In spring 2014, library staff came to the Friends Board with the idea of selling the more valuable books donated to the Friends on eBay. This would be an additional way to raise money for the Friends (and thus library programs and collections.)  

Since the books are donated, the work would be done by volunteers and the buyers would pay shipping costs, the board endorsed the idea. All the friends needed were volunteers.

Enter Kathy and Kelly Clark, longtime Shorewood residents and book lovers who responded to a call for volunteers in the Library e-newsletter! With the help of the library staff and book sale coordinator and Friends board member, Alice Davis, they set out to sell some books online. After a year of trial and error, the Clarks have made some sales and learned some things as well. Kelly sat down at his computer to answer our questions about the first year of eBay sales.

How do you choose the books to sell on eBay?

"Alice Davis and library staff initially screen the donated books, placing most for sale on the racks in the library. They identify potential eBay offerings. Kathy and I perform the follow-up screening. We research books online, based on title, date of printing, condition and other factors. We compare sales and current listings on both eBay and other online book selling sites."

Once you decide to sell a book on eBay, how does it work?

"Donated books are listed in auction or fixed-price format. Sellers such as the Library Friends receive with 20 free listings per month. Additional listings are priced at 30 cents each, with credits applied if an auction book sells. We write a listing description, evaluate and state a book condition; and take appropriate photos of the item. The listing information and photos are uploaded to eBay.

Auction listings usually run a week, fixed price 30 days. When a listing is sold, the buyer pays for the item and postage/handling through PayPal. Upon payment, the item is packaged and shipped. We pay eBay a monthly commission on sold listings and PayPal transaction fees."

Which books have been most successful?

"We've sold more than 100 listings since the effort began last September.

A first edition (1905) illustrated Rip Van Winkle volume sold at auction for more than $160, our highest price single book sale. A 1952 printing of Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl sold for $50. Multi-volume literary sets have also been popular. Serious collectors, as one would expect, are our primary market and customer. But, the casual collector/reader is also.  This may be an individual assembling a personal vintage collection of the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew. Recent non-fiction has also garnered interest from buyers.

In short, however, there's no standard profile for a hot eBay book."

If we have books to donate to the eBay sales, what do we do?

"Drop them off at the library. We'll find a home for them, whether it be in the hands of an “eBuyer” or elsewhere."

Area residents who have questions about book donations and sales or would like to volunteer for the Shorewood Library, should feel free to contact the Friends at shwd.libraryfriends@gmail.com

- Contributed by Friends of Shorewood Library board member, Anne O'Meara

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