Top 8 Questions to Ask Before You Purchase Your Next Used Book

Jill Vonier

Jill Vonier

6 min read

Always heading to Amazon? Craigslist can be a great place to purchase books at an even better price.

Small stack of books on a table

Sticking your nose into a book can be a great way to decompress at the end of the day. There's nothing like holding the physical pages of a book - the smell of musty pages, and the physical touch of paper between your hands as the words come right off the page.

It's a feeling no Kindle or tablet can replace, no matter how hard they try. If you're an avid reader and go through books quickly, Craigslist can be a great place to make reading books an affordable hobby.

See our guide, Looking for a Great Deal? Follow These Tips to Get There First, for tips on tracking down the items you want. However, before you buy a book, there are a few questions to ask to make sure you understand what you're actually purchasing and that it meets your standards.

Here are the top 10 questions to ask when buying books on Craigslist:

Question #1: "What is the Condition of the Book?"

Used books can be as old as 100+ years so it's important to find out the condition of the book. Unlike electronics or clothing, the working condition of a book may not seem as important since it's mostly achieving one job - to be readable.

However, there can be different levels of conditions for a book, including cleanliness (have any liquids been spilt on it?) and ensuring it has all of its pages.

This will also help you find out if you're getting a good price for what you're purchasing.

If the seller says the book is in "good" or "excellent" condition, ask for more details to get a better understanding of its condition.

Question #2. "Can I See More Pictures of the Book?"

If the seller hasn't posted many photos of the book that shows you its true condition, it's perfectly okay to ask for additional photos. Be specific so you can get your inquiries answered.

You can ask to see any defects or scuffs, angles of the book that might show if any liquid has been spilled on it, and any other additional information you'd like to know about the book.

Question #3: "Is the Book a First Edition or a Reprint?"

Another question to ask when buying used books is if the book is a first edition or a reprint.

For those looking for a book for their first edition collections, you will want to make sure the book isn't a reprint. Or if you don't mind it being a reprint, make sure you're not overpaying for a first edition.

Whether you're a collector or looking for a specific edition of a book, be sure to ask if the book is a first edition or a reprint. This will help you determine the value and rarity of the book and will ensure you're getting the edition you're looking for.

Question 4: "Is the Book Part of a Series or Set?"

Many authors have such success with their first book, they continue to write sequels and prequels to keep the story or information coming.

If you're looking for a specific book or series, be sure to ask if the book is part of a series or set. This will help you determine if the book is the one you're looking for and if you need to buy additional books to complete the set.

This also gives you the opportunity to see if they have the other books of the series or set and offer you a bundle deal so you can save some money.

Question 5: "Is the Book a Hardcover or a Paperback?"

Some people have very specific preferences when it comes to the cover of their books. Some prefer hardcover books to protect and maintain the quality of the book, whereas others prefer paperback because they're less expensive and easier to fold.

Before making a purchase, it's important to ask if the book is a hardcover or a paperback. This will help you determine the book's physical format, whether it meets your preferences, and if you're paying a fair price for it.

Question 6: "Is the book a signed copy?"

Many authors host book signings when their new book comes out. This is a great opportunity for avid readers to meet their favorite authors and get more value for their books.

If you're a collector or have a favorite author, you can ask if the book is signed by the author. You can even ask to see the signature before agreeing to pay extra for it. This can add value to the book and make it a unique item for resale later.

Question 7: "Are There Any Notes or Markings in the book?"

Woman closely examining a book

If you're purchasing a used textbook, informative book, or instructional book, it's possible the previous owner has left some notes or markings in the book.

Before purchasing any type of book, ask the seller if the pages have any notes or markings that will make it distracting to read, or if you're wanting blank areas to write your own notes.

This can also help you determine the condition of the book.

Question 8: "Is the Price Negotiable?"

Anytime you're purchasing something off an online marketplace, it's okay to ask if the seller is willing to negotiate the price. Most sellers are willing to negotiate and even leave some wiggle room in their original price for negotiations.

Be sure to not just ask "What's the lowest price you'll take?". Instead, be polite and give a specific price or ask if they'll go down by a specific amount. This is also a good time to see if they have any other books on sale you might be interested in and could get a bundle deal on them.

Selling and buying books on Craigslist is a great way to try out new books without having to invest a lot of money. It can also help you afford new books if you happen to move through books at a fast rate, and make some money to purchase the next book.

If you're looking to purchase a used book on Craigslist, be sure to ask the above 8 questions so you can get a better understanding of the book you're interested in buying on Craigslist.

Asking these questions will help you determine the condition, the rarity, and the value of the book. It will also help you figure out if it is the edition or series you are looking for, and whether you can purchase more books from the seller at a bundle rate.

So next time you're looking to buy books on Craigslist, be sure to ask these questions to make sure you're getting a good deal and a quality product! Happy buying!


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