Books & Resources,  Recycling & Re-use

Give old books a new home while helping the planet and making some cash

If you’re a bookworm, you probably know that physical books aren’t great for the environment. All that paper, printing and transporting add up to increase their carbon footprint. E-books are a bit better (but even they still have some environmental impact).

As with so many things, re-using and recycling are heaps better than chucking things away when they no longer serve you. I love books but my collection was taking up too much space. A one out, one in policy helps. But what to do with the unwanted books? 

Charity shops are an option but that’s so much harder these days with Covid restrictions and who knows where the books actually end up. And selling books privately online yourself is a right pain. All the dealing with listings, payments, post office trips, potential complaints and other faff.

It might not be the most imaginative name but I’ve found Webuybooks to be a great service.

Set up ten years ago and based in Lancashire UK, they help their customers to “…declutter their shelves, make extra cash, and reduce carbon footprints by giving their unwanted books a second chance.

What’s not to like?

So, how does it work?

You can use the service in your browser by manually entering in book details but the app is a far quicker way to get valuations. This allows you to scan each book’s barcodes and in seconds, the price flashes up. Like this:

It’s bizarrely fun to go around scanning your books to see how much you can get for them*. If you get a bit overexcited and scan a book which, on reflection, you’d rather not sell (some are only valued at about 15p!), you can easily delete it from the list.

(*or maybe I’ve just spent too much time on my own in lockdown….)

Once you’ve scanned all the books you want to sell, you just click a button to complete the trade. You’ll then receive a packaging checklist by email with instructions and a collection label. This will also tell you how many boxes you’ll need for your items.

Boxes must weigh no more than 15kg and be no more than 120cm in length. Once you’ve found one that’s right, just package up the your items and attach the label.

A courier will come to your home to collect the items (the cost of this is included in your trade) or you can drop them off at a MyHermes Parcel Shop within 7 days of accepting the trade offer. Webuybooks will email to confirm when they’ve received the items.

Once your items have been checked, the money is paid into your bank account. Or if you prefer, they can send you the funds via PayPal or cheque. From drop off to payment, my trades take around 5 days.

It’s so easy and a great way of ensuring books don’t go to waste.

Which items are accepted?

This post relates only to books but Webuybooks also accept CDs, DVDs and games. If you want to know condition rules for these, check out the detailed guidelines.

What’s great is that your books don’t have to be absolutely pristine. They’ll even be accepted with underlining, highlighting or annotations but only if:

  • These are on not more than 20% of the book’s pages
  • There are no crude words or pictures (he he)
  • Less than 50% of any given page is affected
  • The text is not affected 
  • There are no pictures coloured in

Excessive writing, underlining, and/or highlighting or dog ears on book page edges may lead to a reduction of the quoted price so best to be aware of this in advance. This has definitely motivated me to use a bookmark from now on!

Oh, and hardback books that come with dust jackets must have these on.

What about damaged items? 

Some forms of damage are complete no-gos. I think it’s good to ask yourself “Would I be comfortable giving this book to a friend in this condition or buying it second-hand myself?”. If the answers are no, then it’s probably not one to include.

There’s a list in the condition guidelines linked to above but here’s a flavour for what’s excluded. Books with any of the following issues:

  • Fire or smoke damage
  • Significant damage or wear to the binding
  • Tears to the cover or pages
  • Missing, loose or torn pages
  • Strong smell of any kind (including cigarette odour)
  • Water, moisture damage or mould
  • Workbooks with writing in them (e.g. tests part or fully completed)
  • Bad staining

If books shipped to Webuybooks don’t meet their quality standards, they will deduct those from the trade and offer to return them to you. The return cost per book is £2.40 (for books over 1kg, the cost will be more and Webuybooks would confirm this in advance). If you choose not to have the book returned to you, Webuybooks will arrange for it to be responsibly recycled. 

My experience is that if you stick to the guidelines, the trade prices will be honoured. I’d still suggest taking a photo of the books before you send them so you have a visual record of their condition.

I’ve not had any issues though. I’ve always found Webuybooks to be very honest and fair. The Trustpilot reviews back this up. 

Anything else to know?

Not all books are accepted. If a book isn’t eligible, the app will flash up a red cross when you scan it or a message to say so.

Recipe books and educational text books (even really old ones) tend to be worth more. Some of my law books were still worth a reasonable amount even though they’re ancient. The newer the title and the more mainstream the book or author is, the more you’ll get for it. 

But don’t be too disappointed if certain books aren’t worth much at all. The value really depends on the resale demand for them. 

For my recent trade, I received £33.02 for 16 books. My highest value item so far was a cyber security textbook that I resold for £5.58 and the lowest was an old law book for 18p. Most of the books I trade are worth between £1.00 – 2.50.

I know these are small amounts but they quickly add up. And why not get some cash from a book you no longer need or want that’s only going to gather dust at home?

The minimum trade value required is £5.00. Also, Webuybooks regularly offer codes to get 10% or 15% extra on your trade. This is worth doing when you can. For your first trade, you automatically get a 10% uplift.

So, what do you think? Have you tried Webuybooks or any other book resale marketplace? I’d love to hear your experiences below as well as any other ideas or suggestions for making book-reading a bit greener.

Main photo credit © Kimberly Farmer via Unsplash Inc.

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