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Please keep in mind

  • Our buyers are very particular about condition.
  • We do not accept Book Club Editions.
  • We'll pay for UPS Ground shipping within the US (APO/FPO addresses and Puerto Rico excluded).
  • Each bid must contain a minimum of 7 books or $9.00 of credit before we can accept the bid.

Online Book Selling: Frequently Asked Questions


What is an ISBN?

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a 10-digit code assigned to books published after 1972 or a 13-digit code assigned to books published after 2006. Each ISBN is unique to a specific book. A different ISBN is assigned to hardcover and paperback versions of the same title, as well as later editions with changes or additional content, or editions produced by different publishers. You'll generally find the number printed over the bar code on the book's back cover or on the copyright page.

How do I get my books to you?

After you accept the bid we offer for your books, you'll be sent to our confirmation page. There you can select our free shipping option or choose to ship them to us on your own. If you select the free shipping option, a Return Merchandise Label can be printed after you confirm the buy. Once you attach this label to your package, all you need to do is get it into the hands of your local UPS drop-off location. Please note: Our prepaid mailing labels cover UPS Ground service only. If you choose to send your package by another delivery method, you are not eligible for the prepaid UPS mailing option and will need to pay the required shipping rates. You can print as many shipping labels as you need by selecting the number of packages when generating labels or by clicking the link to generate labels a second time. Please do not photocopy labels or print multiple copies of the same shipping label.

When will I know that my books have arrived?

You will receive a confirmation email from us once your books have arrived and have been processed informing you of the payment issued to your account. Books shipped via the free shipping option usually arrive at our warehouse within 2-3 weeks (longer if shipping from Hawaii or Alaska).

What condition do my books need to be in?

We are very particular about the condition of the books we will buy. Please take a look at our Condition Guidelines before selling us your books.

Can you give me suggestions on how to pack the books?

We encourage you to pack your books in a sturdy box of appropriate size to keep them from becoming damaged in transit. We encourage you to pack your books in a similar fashion to the image shown, to keep them in good condition. Though UPS packages can weigh up to 150 lbs. and measure up to 165 inches in combined length and distance around the thickest part, a good rule of thumb is to pack no more than about 30 books per box. You can print as many shipping labels as you need. Pack the box fully to the top and along its sides to prevent it from being crushed in transit. Please do not use newspaper to pack your books as the print from the paper can rub off and damage the books. Please remember that Powell's is not responsible for damage that occurs in transit.

I live in the Portland metro area. Can I drop my books off?

No. To uphold safe distancing measures, we are not accepting drop-offs.

Can I sell to you from outside the US?

Anyone with a Powells.com account can sell us books, however, our free shipping option is only for customers within the United States and excludes Puerto Rico and APO/FPO addresses.

Is there a minimum requirement for each bid I submit?

Each bid must contain a minimum of 7 books or $9.00 of credit before we can accept the bid.

How much will I get for my books?

Just like in our stores, it's a matter of supply and demand as to whether we need a particular title at any time and how much we can pay for it. We buy based on current inventory needs and recent sales history and pay a percentage of what we think the copy can sell for or has sold for in the past. As such, what we buy or pass on today is not necessarily what we'll need tomorrow. In addition, the price we offer may not be a reflection of the books we currently have in stock and can and will fluctuate daily as our inventory history changes.

In addition, keep in mind that the bid amount offered is subject to the books arrival at our warehouse. Any books that arrive in less than standard condition will be reduced in price and/or removed from the original bid. Powell's is not responsible for books lost or damaged in transit and not liable for payment.

When do I get paid?

Once your books arrive at Powell's, one of buyers will look them over and process them. Your account will be automatically credited once all of your books have arrived and been processed.

How do I get paid?

Payment options include Powells.com credit or PayPal funds.

Powells.com Virtual Credit/Trade: Virtual Credit (sometimes referred to as "trade") is credit that we place directly in your Powell's Books account. It can be used for any purchases made on Powells.com. 

PayPal: We can automatically issue funds into your PayPal account. If you do not already have an account, don't worry, setting up an account is easy. If you choose to be paid via PayPal, the money will be issued to the email address associated to your Powell's Books account.

I bought these books from you — does that mean you will automatically buy them back?

No. We buy based on the current supply and demand of our inventory which changes daily.

Why should I sell my books to Powell's?

We have been buying and selling used books at our stores in Portland, Oregon, for over 30 years, allowing our customers to recycle their old books for new books. We are excited to extend this service to our online customers.

What kind of books can I sell?

Any book with an ISBN is eligible with the following exceptions: We will not buy Advanced Reader Copies, Uncorrected Proofs, Print-on-Demand titles, items marked "Not for Resale," or Book Club Editions. We will not buy Ex-Library books or books in less than standard condition.

For books published in the late 1960s or early 1970s, you may find a similar nine-digit number called an SBN or Standard Book Number. An SBN is the original nine-digit version of the ISBN. Simply adding a 0 to the beginning will convert it to a valid ISBN. You can enter an ISBN in either its 10-digit or 13-digit format on our website.

What is a book club edition and how do I know if I have one?

Book club editions are those printed especially for a book club such as The Book of the Month Club or The Literary Guild. These copies will usually have the words "Book Club Edition" printed on the bottom right corner of the front flap of the dust jacket. Occasionally, if the book club does not wish to publish a separate edition they will have the publisher blind stamp the rear board and print a supply of dust jackets without a price on the front flap and without the bar code on the rear panel. Typically they are a smaller and cheaper format than the original hardcover or trade paper editions.

What do I do about my pre-ISBN, rare, and signed books?

At this time we have no way of buying pre-ISBN or rare and collectible items through our website. If you have a large or specialized collection, we suggest you email [email protected] with a brief description of the number, condition, and type of books you'd like to sell.

I have a large collection — should I do anything special?

For a large or specialized collection, we suggest contacting us directly at [email protected]. A brief description of the number, condition, and type of books is a good place to start.

What about the books you reject? How can I get them back?

Books sent in error or in a condition that prevents resale will not be returned to the seller. These books will be sent to a third party for donation, recycling, or sale with a portion of the proceeds going to nonprofit groups of Powell's choosing. Please double-check all items against your confirmation before sending them.

What if my books get lost in the mail?

Powell's is not responsible for books lost in transit. Package tracking or insurance is the responsibility of the seller.

Can I use the quote I got two months ago? I haven't changed the books.

No. Quotes are good for seven days only. Books need to be postmarked before that date as the original bid is subject to change based on our current inventory needs. Books sent later than the seven-day time frame may be rejected and will not be returned.

Can I try to sell my rejected books at a later date?

Yes. We buy or pass on a book based on our current inventory needs, which can change day by day. You are welcome to try and sell books we pass on as often as you please.

Who can I contact with further questions?

Questions, issues, or comments can be made by phone, 1-800-878-7323 option 3 or email, [email protected].