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I. Sets.

Pretty obvious, I agree, but there are some important considerations here. I can't imagine the circumstances under which it would be prudent to break up a complete set and sell the volumes individually, but even incomplete sets will often do fine - that is, they shouldn't be broken up either. The reality is that there are darn few sets that would repay a break-and-sell effort. Don't be fooled by the numbers. If you have an incomplete set of, say, 15 volumes that you could sell individually at $5 per volume and make $75 on, don't do it, even if the set sold as a set will only go for $40 or $50. Far better to process one sale and move on than to be bogged down for months processing 15 of them.

However, it's fortunate for us that there are many sellers who give the break-and-sell strategy a shot anyway because, if we have a near complete set, we can complete it readily and inexpensively. Complete sets most definitely do have enhanced value because of their completeness, and there are some occasions when a complete set will realize a higher price on eBay than it would if it were broken up.

II. Authors.

There's lots of potential here, especially with fiction, most especially fiction issued in series, and often with fiction that's dirt common. Example: as a general practice, it would be foolish to consider selling almost any Danielle Steele title on eBay, but put 5 or 10 or more jacketed hardbacks together? Time and time again I've seen these go for $20 to $30 - and there you are, exactly where you need to be with the recommended minimum eBay selling price. When you consider how many sales you've been to that have offered stacks of these things, doesn't it stand to reason that this could be a steady source of income, especially if you could pick them up for $.50 or less apiece?

III. Titles.

Not as much potential here, but I've often come across multiple copies of the same title in different formats and editions at sales. This is what completists go after - one of everything - so if the price is right and the author is at least mildly collectible, buy, and they should sell quickly in lot form.

IV. Topics.

Very productive category, probably more so than any other, and the possibilities are endless. It'd be easier to count the sales that don't have books in topical groups than the ones that do because this is how buyers buy books in the first place - focusing on topics that interest them. This is one instance, however, where it could make sense to follow the break-and-sell strategy. If you've got, for example, a dozen duck hunting books and one of them could stand alone and deliver $50, sell it thus. The remaining 11 books will still make an attractive lot.

V. Uses.

Some buyers purchase books for purposes other than reading or collecting. Examples are interior decorators, realtors, etc., who need books to fill bookcases or display individually on tables. Not any book lot will do here, but if you see something attractive at a fire sale price, it'd make sense to grab a few handfuls, especially if they're leather bound. The latter can be sold, literally, by the foot of shelf space.

Books are also purchased for crafts making - for example, creating scrapbooks and altered books. Both activities are growing by leaps and bounds, and a grouping of books that offers dozens of the much sought-after decorative elements commands considerable attention on eBay. For more information on specific types of books that work here, see this BookThinker article.

A Few Marketing Tips:

  1. Don't overcharge for postage. It may be a temptation to charge a dollar or more per book for shipping, especially if you are concerned about getting a good final value and are hedging your bets. Don't succumb to it. Buyers looking at sets and other lots definitely shop for postage as well as price, and an inflated shipping charge will often depress bidding or stop it cold. USPS Media Mail is the cheapest thing going. You can still ship 10 pounds of books for under $5. Weigh 'em. Charge your buyer what it costs you.

  2. Take advantage of new flat-rate Priority boxes. For a flat rate of $7.70, you can send anything you can fit into these. I recently sold a lot of 10 books, a mixture of hardcovers and softcovers, and I was able to fit them neatly into one box. Two shapes/sizes are available. Keep at least one of each on hand to pre-calculate your lots with. Offering a slightly higher Priority option at this price level could interest a buyer.

  3. Presentation. Don't cut corners on this. Take a picture of the set as a unit, yes, but don't stop there. Buyers of sets especially are almost always fussy about condition, and if you show them exactly how things are (assuming they're quite good), they'll bid with enthusiasm. It can be very effective to take several representative close-ups, especially if they reveal condition in areas that are most susceptible to wear. Examples:

  4. Title Keywords. In addition to using obvious ones - those referring to authors, topics, etc. - it helps to use the term "BOOK LOT" or to communicate in some way that there are multiple volumes. For example, "15 VOLUMES" or "DUCK HUNTING LIBRARY."

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