Speculators Keep a Watchful Eye Out for Treasures

Some people work for a living, some make money buying futures, some speculate in stocks (not too successfully of late...) and some can actually make money selling used books.

From Sign On San Diego, here's the story of one such individual, Nancy McReady, who scouts the Friends of the Library sales and is "on the lookout for the occasional gold mine, such as the worn coffee-table book [she] found at the Vista branch library for 50 cents and resold for $250".

“You have to research,” McCready said. “You have to know what you're looking for. You have to develop an intuition.

Take it from birdie friends/Friends, this woman is on to something. Price your books appropriately and do your homework. The days of the 50 cents book are (or at least should be) over. Utilize those donations to make real money for your library.


we've had people donate Sotheby's auction catalogs that I knew were worth money and we've been given stamp collections, and often I see early WWII books that are probably rare. I've seen autographed copies of books by celebrities.

but really, who can handle all that money? we don't have the space to store that stuff for the once a year book sale. we put it out as we get it, or I take it for myself for $1.

that's the difficulty, no space to store this crap and no way to take these assorted payments, $25 for this book or $100 for that one. I guess you could sticker some stuff and put it in a case, but then what if the donor wants it back? you researched it and priced it, but they want it back claiming it was given by mistake. don't you think that would happen?

so we do nothing. and let the lucky ones find the gold. or me. because I grab that stuff as soon as I see it. here's a dollar.

effing, and I suspect that's the case in more than just your library.

Friends (or foundations or a staff member or whoever is best suited for this sort of thing) need to pay heed to potential income from book sales. Find the best person(s) for the job and get it done! Otherwise all that gold could slip through the fingers of all the other effings out there.

Better than those once or twice a year extravaganzas, when everyone is exhausting from lugging books here and there and on guard for sticky-handed bookpickers and resellers, libraries need to assign a shelf or a corner or a book cart to a continuous book sale. It's a potential source of income, among others, and income these days is nothing to scoff at.

My nephew's father-in-law, a laid off GM engineer, has been getting used books at his local recycling center and selling them on Amazon. He averages about $2,000 a month. He says he has no idea what they might be worth when he picks them up and is often pleasantly surprised. Best prices have been for old medical books.

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