How to Get the Most Money if You Have to Sell Your Book Collection

Buzz Bookstore showed up in the news again last week when US News asked the question, "How do you get the most money for your collection if you have to sell it?" Check out our tips below, as well as tips from other shop owners around the country.

If you are constantly juggling bills and low on cash, you may find yourself eyeing your prized, fill-in-the-blank collection, wondering: Should I sell this?

That can be a difficult question to answer. On one hand, you may feel that you've invested in your collection, whether it's stamps or comic books or Beanie Babies, precisely because someday you might need to sell it. On the other hand, nobody wants to later have seller's remorse.

Still, if you really need the money ...

So if you've decided to sell your prized collection for quick cash, do yourself a favor and take the following steps before doing anything rash.

Research the value of your collection. It's very easy to forget this step if you're desperate for cash, but if you want to get maximum value, you'd better have an idea of what your lot is worth. This is also a period in which you can really think things through. Maybe you'll realize that you don't really want to sell your collection.

Ben Pagel, a District of Columbia resident who owns and runs an online site, BuzzBookstore.com, recommends searching eBay to see what similar items have sold for. You can also consult guides and websites devoted to whatever you collect.

Just keep your expectations in check. You may come to discover that your collection really isn't worth that much, warns Ilena Di Toro, who lives in Philadelphia and sells movie posters at JustMoviePosters.com. She often warns customers who think they could make a lot of money off old movie posters to "buy for enjoyment, not investment purposes."

She also says, "Not all vintage items have appreciated in value."

Di Toro recalls how a neighbor once left a collection of National Geographic magazines from the 1940s to the 1960s on the curb. Di Toro took four appealing-looking issues, figuring she would make a tidy sum off them on eBay.

"Guess what these magazines sold for? Ten dollars, plus shipping," Di Toro says. "Even the Jane Goodall and Jacques Cousteau issues."

Still, she made some money, $40. Her neighbor conceivably could have made several hundred bucks on eBay. There may have been as many as 50 issues on the curb that went to a landfill, Di Toro says.

That's another reason to do your research. You may undervalue what you have, to the point that you don't even sell your collection and simply toss it out.

Choose your buyer with care. Don't run to the first buyer you find, and if you want top dollar, don't go to a store to sell your stuff. Go to a fellow collector. That's advice that comes from Pagel, a store owner.

"Resellers and retailers, like me, need to make money and will therefore have to offer a collector less than the resale value," Pagel says. "I'm often contacted by collectors looking to receive top dollar for a large collection, and I usually have to decline because there would be no benefit or profit for the shop."

You may want to try auctioning off your collection, says Vincent Zurzolo, co-owner of Metropolis Collectibles in New York City and the online auction house, ComicConnect.com, which holds five Guinness World Records for most expensive comics and related collectibles bought and sold.

"Auctions, if you have the right material, can yield the highest [return on investment]," he says. "However, you have to be careful that auction houses don't have hidden charges. Read over contracts thoroughly."

For instance, Zurzolo says that his auction company takes 10 percent of whatever someone makes off an auction and, unlike some auction houses, doesn't charge the buyer anything.

Zurzolo also says that you might want to consider selling at a consignment store at a fixed option. It takes longer, he says. Still, if what you're selling does sell, you'll get the amount of money you're asking for.

Don't sell everything at once. For starters, you probably won't get what the collection is really worth.

"Except for rare cases, collections are generally worth more if sold as individual pieces," Pagel says. "Individual collectors usually have smaller budgets in total but will be willing to pay more for single pieces. The exception would be a complete set of something collectible, like a complete set of signed first edition Harry Potter books, for example."

If you sell your entire collection, it can often be like the buyer is purchasing everything in bulk, Pagel points out. Do you really want your buyer to treat your prized collection like a warehouse-store score and get some awesome deal at your expense?

Well, maybe you do, if you really need money fast.

But if you always imagined that someday you would pass on your collection of historic political buttons or thimbles or whatever you have spent years lavishing attention on, then selling things bit by bit is definitely the approach to take. If you sell everything, obviously, it's all gone, all at once. But if you sell the most valuable item, or a few choice pieces, and you regret it, you can stop – and perhaps once your financial situation gets better, you can keep adding to your collection, too, someday making it better than ever.

And if you're really sentimental, you'll think of the pieces that you did sell, and you'll know that when you really needed money, your collection helped you through those dark times. That may make it even more valuable to you on a more personal level.

Check out the full article here.