Selling books online

A friend I grew up with is dying from liver cancer. He has only a few months left to finalize his affairs. One task he has chosen, is to liquidate his collection of books, mostly science fiction. So far he has sold about 10 % of his 3000+ books (via e-bay venders, I think).

What would I do?

  1. Find a tool for organizing and displaying my books online.
  2. Join communities that are passionate about science fiction books.
  3. Create a “store” where the books could be sold (perhaps even after my death).

LibraryThing was written up today in the New York Times. I remember TechCrunch mentioning LibraryThing in Nov, 2005. The community using LibraryThing has listed more than 10 million books (Feb, 07). Online bookseller Abebooks bought a 40% share in LibraryThing in June 2006. Users can catalog personal collections, keep reading lists and wish lists, and meet other users who have the same books. LibraryThing has a blog, dozens of groups, and an active forums (“Talk“) feature. When I searched for members living in Saint Paul, MN. I was amazed to find that the webmaster of the Science Museum of Minnesota Buzz Blog was a member. I blog for Buzz and almost felt voyeristic as I scanned my co-workers book collection.

Science fiction communities

The MIT Science Fiction Society claims to have in their collection over 90% of all science fiction ever published in English.

Special efforts are made to obtain a copy of every sf book that comes out; sometimes we manage to get books from the publishers before the bookstores do, occasionally by months—in some cases we get proofs of the book before the book is finished.

ShelfariAmazon has a forum for science fiction fans,too. “Closely integrated with the Amazon API, Shefari users can populate their book shelf with books from the Amazon catalog by word search, ISBN, and CSV file. Users can write reviews, tag, recommend books, make friends, and write notes to each other. There’s also a very well organized explore page that lets you find new users, top rated books, most revuews, amongst other filters.”(thanks to Runninwiththefoxes).

Book selling bloggers

Craig Starks at has advice on selling books online. Another blog called Book Selling Online continues to give updated advice.

I might try selling my books online

I have a few thousand books myself. I like to collect reference books. My self image leans toward “do it yourself” and “I am willing to try most anything” if given an instruction book. When I downsized to just one house I only had room to display a couple hundred books. The rest are boxed up in the basement, attic, and garage. Liquidating my books has always seemd to require more effort than it was worth. These new tools and communities now available makes me think that selling books online might not be so difficult.

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