Over the course of the past year or so, looking to sell books online, I’ve been comparing the offers I received for my secondhand books from a number of online book buying sites: Ziffit, We Buy Books, Momox, Zapper, Music Magpie and Sell It Back.
I’ve entered over 700 books’ details during this time and logged the offers I’ve received. I didn’t enter all the books on every site but at least 460 books were submitted to each buyer – so plenty to draw conclusions from.
The books were a wide cross section of academic text books, work related management/business books, novels, kids’ books and all sorts of general interest text books (health, self-help, travel, hobbies etc).
In some cases I’ve accepted the highest offer and sent the books off to the buyers, and in some I’ve declined them all as not good enough and looked to sell elsewhere. In many cases I received no offers from any of the buyers and I’ve either hung on to those books or donated them to a charity.
This post summarises my general findings and compares the offers I received from different buyers.
Firstly though, as a broad point, I should say that you will not get the best price on any given book by selling to these sites!
Of course you can sell books online by a variety of other means, such as eBay or Facebook Marketplace, and some of these methods will almost certainly generate more money. However this is definitely the easiest and quickest way to sell. All other methods involve a lot more time and personal effort, especially when you start out with them.
In all, 540 of the 730 books I looked at received offers of some kind from at least one of the sites, ie 74% of the books. This also means that a quarter of my books attracted no offers at all.
Around two-thirds of the offers I received were less than 50p.
The best offers on all sites were almost always for academic text books.
All the sites will give different offers on the same book from day to day – sometimes from hour to hour. It all depends on what they have in stock and what their customers are looking for at a particular time.
Ziffit gave offers on 273 of 730 books (ie 34%).
Highest offer £6, lowest £0.08
The average was 71p but this number was inflated by a few larger offers.
Two-thirds of their offers were under 50p.
Ziffit gave the highest offer on 140 out of the 274 offers they made, ie 51% of the time they made an offer it beat all the other sites’ offers.
Their highest offers were almost always on academic textbooks. Apart from an oldish copy of Harry Potter, all the offers over £1.50 were for academic/business textbooks
⇒ Read my Ziffit Review
Unfortunately since mid 2020 Momox have stopped taking UK orders because of uncertainties about trading rules after Brexit.
Up to that point I had had offers on only about 10% of the books I entered there (54 books out of about 550).
Their highest offer was a huge £44.6, and the lowest £0.03.
Average £3.20. The average even without that one massive offer was £2.30.
Momox were the highest offer 48% of the times that they made an offer.
Their highest offers (over £1.50) were almost always on academic textbooks, apart from one recent paperback novel which drew an offer of £5.60, and again our earlyish copy of Harry Potter.
⇒ Read my Momox UK Review
We Buy Books
When We Buy Books made offers, 37% of the time they were the best or only offer.
Highest offers (over £1.50) as usual were academic textbooks, apart from one old paperback novel which got an offer of £1.77, and one hardback kids’ book at £1.58.
⇒ Read my We Buy Books Review
When Music Magpie made an offer, theirs was the best offer 35% of the time – although quite often that was because they made the only offer.
As usual, their highest offers (over £1.50) were almost always on academic textbooks, apart from two kids’ books at £3.08 & £2.49.
⇒ Read my Music Magpie Review
About one-third of the time.
When Zapper made offers, they were the best or only offer 63% of the time. But very often theirs was the only offer and they do seem to have a strategy of offering 1p on lots of books that no-one else wants.
Of all the buyers Zapper made the highest percentage of very low offers. About a third of their offers were for only 1p!
Their highest offers (over £1.50) were always on academic textbooks.
⇒ Read my Zapper Review
Sell It Back
Made offers on 93 of the 460-ish books I entered there (20%).
Highest offer £3.51, lowest £0.01, average 41p.
- All of the sites have a percentage of cases where they are offering the best price on a particular book. So if your aim is to maximise the cash you get back you’ll ideally want to check all of the sites every time, see which is best and if possible send off a batch to each buyer.
- This assumes though that you’ve got enough decent offers to make up a batch on each site, given that they all have a minimum order level of at least £5. You may need to let some books go at a lower price than you’d like so that you can make up minimum batches.
- Whichever site you use, you’ll almost always get the best prices for academic text books.
- If you aren’t selling any academic text books amongst your trade, you’ll probably find yourself sending a big box of books out even to make up the £5 minimum package.
- You’ll soon notice if you do sell books online this way that offers on the same item can vary considerably over time. So if you’re not happy with the offers on a particular book and you’ve got time to wait, it could be worth trying again on another day or in a few weeks time.
- At the lower end of the price scale, often the best offer is also the only offer and is very low indeed – maybe only a penny per book.
- You may prefer to set some lower price limit that you’re prepared to accept per book. You might for instance decide that if you can’t get an offer of more than 10p for a book you’d rather donate it to a charity shop.
While they offered on a relatively low proportion of books, when Sell it Back did offer, 65% of the time they were higher than the rest.
Sell it Back’s highest offers (over £1.50) were always on academic textbooks.
⇒ Read my Sell It Back Review
How They Compared
This chart shows the percentage of books that each buyer gave offers on. You can see that Music Magpie offered on the most and Momox on the fewest books.
This chart shows the percentage of times each site gave the best or only offer. So you can see that while the previous chart showed that Sell it Back offer on relatively few books, when they do give offers they are quite likely to be better than the rest. On the other hand, Music Magpie give lots of offers but they’re relatively unlikely to be the best offers.
The chart below compares the way each buyer spread their offers in terms of the price levels. For instance, the blue section of each bar shows the percentage of their offers that were under 50p, and the yellow section shows percent of offers over £6. So you can see that of the six sites Zapper were the most likely to give a very low offer, while Momox gave the best percentage of high offers.
Conclusions: best choice to sell books online?
Each of the online buyers is choosing a balance between quantity and quality in terms of their offers. In broad terms this is my sense of how each is approaching the purchase of books at the moment (I don’t know whether this holds true for other types of items):
PRICE OVER QUANTITY – fewer offers, better prices
QUANTITY OVER PRICE – more offers, lower prices
If price is your priority when you sell books online, ideally you’ll need to check all the buyers, but Momox (assuming they restart trading with the UK), We Buy Books and Ziffit veer more in that direction.
If your priority is clearing your shelves and the price is not so important to you, then Music Magpie and Zapper come out top in giving offers on the highest number of books. Zapper in particular seem to focus on buying lots of books that other sites don’t want and offering bottom end prices for them. Both these sites also actively encourage sending books to them purely for charity donation or recycling, and will cover the postage for you to include those in your trade.
Sell It Back is somewhere in between, offering on a low number of books but apparently focusing on beating their competitors in the 20-50p range.