Selling my old books! Easy peasy.

Squirrel helping through the whole process

You might remember that I started off my second hand year journey with a clear out, and I am still slowly but surely (or maybe not surely because the amount of 'stuff' we have never seems to decrease) trying to clear out the whole house.

When I was at school I remember studying William Morris who famously said ‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.’ but I think it's taken me til proper adulthood to really grasp that notion and understand it. Marie Kondo has modernised that idea but with the added bonus of making things easier to keep clean and tidy too, as well as making the organisation of items you do love, beautiful also.

So I've been working my way through both trying to sort storage as well as shedding myself of things that no longer serve me. I've long been someone who gives stuff away or donates rather than throwing things away, but it's only the last few years that I've thought of it in ecological terms as well as someone else might need it or helping out a charity.

I'd never sold anything on as that felt...ungenerous? I think there might be cultural things at play that if you had something you no longer needed you shouldn't offer it to someone as that might be seen as implying they're poor and in need of your rubbish, and similarly if you try and sell something, unless it's a valuable thing, that you're financially struggling,and it would be miserly to not just give the item away (even though you can't offer it to people....). I have known Orcadians to just empty their houses and burn everything regardless of condition or whether the item might have heirloom value to another family member.

However donations to charity shops, while always welcome, are not always actually welcome. Our wee local charity shop had to put up signs saying they could no longer accept adult clothing and lots of charity shops get inundated with more old books and DVDs that they can sell to the point they have free boxes outside where you can help yourself. For an item to really be of value to a charity shop it has to suit their demographic and the clientele who walk through the door and that may well not be your items. Larger chains of charity shops may have things in place to sell on unsellable items for recycling, however ecologically speaking reuse is always better than recycling and not all charity shops have the ability to do this, and even the ones that do don't recycle all the crap, some still goes to landfill.

The most responsible thing to do if you want to be as mindful as possible of your own waste is to sell on whatever you can yourself. Selling items yourself means you know they are going to someone who wants or needs them and it might be the best or only way that person can get that item. It's better than just giving them away as who among us hasn't taken something just because it's free only to put it in the bin anyway? Now, I know this, but for some reason I have the absolute fear of doing it! And the aim is not to just have stuff sitting in my house waiting to be dealt with, it's to let it go, and the more scared I am, the more I'm going to procrastinate in just getting it done.

She has never been more interesting in anything ever

So I started off on easy mode. Book selling apps. As much as I love books and think that having a good book collection is a great thing, I also have a lot of books I will honestly never open again. I have all my uni books from 20 years ago and lots of novels that I either haven't read or wont read again and getting a bookcase for my birthday gave me a good excuse for a clear out.

Book selling apps buy your old books, games, DVDs and CDs to sell on. Will you get less than if you sold each book yourself? Maybe, but it's much much easier than either listing them online or taking them to a car book sale where you may sell nothing at all. I used 2 apps Music Magpie and Ziffit. You just download the apps to your phone then scan the barcode on your item and it will give you a price for that item. The most I got for a single item was about £6.50 for a Gaelic textbook and 2p for something I don't remember! Now I know you might be saying 2p isn't worth it however these companies know what they're doing, that item IS going to be reused and you're not doing 1 item at a time, it's 1 item in a box of several, or many! From the 2 companies I got all together around £23 - £16+ from one and £6+ from the other. The postage on both was free and convenient and it didn't matter how many boxes they were in so long as they were securely wrapped. It took around a week to 10 days to be paid, but it really wasn't about the money for me, it's just a nice aside!

Here's my top tips!

Get together all the items you want rid of at once. Although you can save your basket in both apps, the items they want and how much they pay changes over time so I recommend doing this as quickly as you can.

Use more than one app at a time to compare prices. I used Music Magpie and Ziffit and sometimes one would want something the other didn't, and there would be different prices offered for the same item. I set myself up with a box for each, I'd scan my barcode with one and see the offer, then scan it with the other, delete the worst offer and put my item in the corresponding box. It was really quick, even with me cleaning items as I went. It's a good idea to have a third box too to put in the items that neither wants. It doesn't mean they'll never want them, it just means not right now so it's up to you whether you keep this box to try again later or to donate or give them away. I'm keeping mine to try again, particularly as my husband learned how much I got and decided his old books perhaps weren't so precious after all!

Don't assume something wont be wanted. I was stunned that I was being offered £1.50-£3 for old DVDs and video games that we no longer have consoles for. Also a machine knitting pattern book went and a Hayes manual for a C reg Vauxhall Astra! Other items I thought would be accepted and weren't were more recent DVDs and novels by popular authors.

When you're done confirm that trade that same day. You wont have to send it that day but if you don't lock in the trade then it could easily change by the next day. With Music Magpie I took the box to the Post Office but I could also have booked to have it collected. With Ziffit it was a DPD collection and for both of them I could choose my days.

Not prettily wrapped, just sturdily wrapped.

Did I prefer Music Magpie or Ziffit?

Using the apps there was no real difference, they both worked the same way and were quick and simple – although do expect them to eat your battery like cake!

Ziffit paid more however they were slower to pay, and one of my books wasn't accepted because they said the spine was torn which I don't agree with, however for 40p I'm not going to argue! They also said one item was missing which I don't think it was but again I'm not going to argue. It did annoy me slightly that there's no option to get rejected items back, that just feels a little icky, but at the same time I understand why that might not be an easy thing to do especially if someone is just being difficult over 2p.

Music Magpie didn't email me the list of items I'd agreed to send with the confirmation email and I'm not sure if that's normal or a glitch because there was a space for it. This was a bit of a pain because I wanted to double check the box before I sent it, and there was no way to view it on the app. They accepted all items but even then didn't send a list of them so I'm not sure if they just don't or the first time was a glitch. Either way it was mildly annoying but I'd remember next time to screenshot my basket before putting it through.

I liked that I could use the post office for Music Magpie too as that's more convenient for me and if I'd arranged a collection I'd know it would be done when the postie comes at the normal time – I took the excuse to go to the Post Office for a chat! Ziffit only gave me DPD as an option and the pick up slot was for the whole day until 6 or 7pm and I don't have the most trust in couriers to keep items safe as I've had problems with sending items and them getting damaged before. Also I like using the Post Office as they're so essential in rural areas and we need to keep them open.

Do I have a preference between the 2? Music Magpie but for no real quantifiable reason other than I felt an increased trust level with their communication and speed compared to Ziffit. I would still use both again though, and I do plan to do this periodically as more items are added to the pile or I just feel like going through it again.

I'm not an affiliate for either app but if you sign up and use Music Magpie using this link or by quoting 'Carolyn Anderson' at checkout I will get a referral fee. This hasn't had a bearing on how I feel about either app though! Both apps can be found in the app store.

The next stop on this journey is selling clothes and I'm so scared! I'm only voicing it here as that means I'll have to actually do it. There are no apps for just scanning a bar code and getting it picked up but in other parts of the UK there are companies that will come to your house and give you around £4-£5 for 10kg of clothes. There are We-Pay cash for clothes offices/shops in Forfar and Dundee but the petrol for me to get there would be more than the money I'd get for the clothes right now, and I don't think I'd be close to 10kg yet. So wish me luck, and if you've any tips please let me know!

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