Making money from old books – a new way forward for libraries?

At the Academic & Special Libraries seminar on Friday 01 March 2013, I had my first chance to talk to a library vendor.  

After a quick hello to some fellow students on arrival, I circled the stands and began chatting to David Buckley from who talked to me about how Anybook resells and recycles old library books.

It was a very informative discussion and one of the first I’ve had with a vendor as oppposed to a librarian.   The business model is this: the library removes any books it no longer needs from its shelves and catalogue.  Anybook provide boxes to the library which the library uses to box up the unwanted or out of date books.   A courier is then sent by Anybook to collect the books.  Once the books are brought to the warehouse, the company sells them on Amazon and other websites, with the library receiving a percentage of the sales price, depending on how long it takes to sell.  The faster the books sell, the more the library makes.  Each day that the books do not sell, the library receives a percentage less of the sale price.  If there are books which have not sold after 100 days they become Anybook properties and no payment for any subsequent sale is made to the library (this is how Anybook makes its money).  If the books do not sell after 5-6 years, they are recycled.

I think this is a fantastic concept and a great way for libraries to recover some of their initial purchase costs when they have to replace books.  It frees up space, allows for recovery of a reasonable amount of the purchase price and removes the need for librarians to become involved in sales roles directly.   In these recessionary times,  demonstrating that the library takes its responsibility not only to share information but also to manage its costs is a key message which librarians need to communicate to management and other stakeholders.

I’m delighted to find out that options like Anybook exist and it would be great if there were other companies out there doing something similar with older equipment and technology.  If you know of any, please share their details in the comments box.


About Caroline

Librarian. Bibliophile. Information seeker and sharer. “Life would be unbearably dull if we had answers to all our questions.” ― Jim Butcher, Death Masks
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2 Responses to Making money from old books – a new way forward for libraries?

  1. Dear Caroline,

    It was great meeting you are the Seminar. I wish you all the best in your new career!

    Just a point – if the books don’t sell during the 100 days (from which the library makes revenue), they then become our property, and we keep them on our shelves for 5-6 years. This is where we recoup the cost of the service, which is free to the library. We only recycle as a last resort, and any money made from recycling is past directly back to the library. We only make money from selling books, and have a vested interest in selling them at their best price.

    Yours sincerely,

    David Buckley
    Library Liaison
    +44 (0) 1522-522665
    +44 (0) 7969484479

    • Caroline says:

      Hi David,
      Thanks for the good wishes, and for the feedback. I enjoyed meeting you very much. I’ll amend the blogpost to reflect the 5-6 year hold-over.

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