B/S/T (BST) stands for Buy/Sell/Trade. I didn’t realize how lucrative reselling books were. Here are my thoughts after a couple of months after joining a few groups and buying more than I needed. This isn’t meant to bash anyone nor is it a scientific endeavor. This is from my personal observations and being part of a few groups online.
Supply and demand creates the market for these books. What does that mean? With limited supply and a fair amount of demand, books can sell for as much 4x their original price if they are special editions. The price often does not include the bookish goodies that came with the book if it is from a book box. Often times, these are sold separately. Of the more coveted recent releases from the book boxes, I’ve seen a single book go for as much as $200.
It was my own demand that led me to join groups. I was desperately in search of a special edition from Goldsboro that was sold out. Someone let me know they were able to acquire a copy from a BST group. And so began my foray into buying, selling, and trading groups. If you’re new to BST groups or thinking about joining, I hope the following will help you navigate them while also keeping your wallet mostly in tact.
Read, Read, Read
Sure, it sounds simple enough, but it can be easy to try to jump the gun. You joined the group to buy books and want to start looking at what’s available right away, but you should stop and read the rules first. Many of these groups have rules about how to post, the buying process, and how to sell. They also provide tips about how to spot scammers or what moderators have tried to do to reduce the number of scammers in groups.
Generally, buyers will comment on a post and say they’re interested in a certain item. Read the seller’s posts for any additional guidelines they might have. Some might ask you to DM them. In these cases, you might want to comment what you’re interested in and tell them you’ve DM’d them. Some will say where they are based and if they will only sell to other people based in the same area. Some might say that shipping is included.
People are generally very nice, but that’s not always the case.
I’ve found this to be true within the at-large bookish community and remains so within BST groups. I had one person double check my address with me and thank goodness they did because I had a different address on my account. In another group, someone tried to sell me a set of books I was looking for by a few hundred over the current market value. Luckily, someone DM’d me to let me know. The person who replied to my original post in search of posting really was overpricing it–I double checked too. This leads me to my next point.
Do your research.
You have a book in mind, and you know how much the retail value is, but you’re not sure about the market value. Look at different sites such as Ebay or Mercari to try to figure out the current value of a book. I’ve never purchased from Pango Books, but that might be another option as well. If the book you’re looking for has been out for a while, look through the posts to see if you can find how much people have sold it for. This gives you an estimate of how much you might be expected to spend.
Be sure to take into consideration shipping as well. International shipping can be costly and will greatly increase the total cost of your book. If you’re based in the States and you’re buying from the UK, shipping might be as much as an additional $25.
Determine your budget.
Once you figure out how much a book is, you need to set a limit for yourself. I wish I had been better about this at the beginning. How much do you want the book? How much are you willing to pay? These are crucial questions to ask yourself to keep your wallet in tact.
For instance, FairyLoot book boxes that include book-related merchandise run around USD$32.99, not including shipping, but that’s if you buy from Fairy Loot. If you wanted to purchase Daughter of the Moon Goddess from Fairyloot, it’s usually somewhere around $100 on BST groups. Again, how much do you want the book, and how much are you willing to spend?
It’s here that patience will be on your side. If you’re not in a rush to get your hands on it, it’s certainly possible for the price of a recent release to go down a bit. The price is still conditioned by demand. And the other concern will be whether there will be anyone selling it later if you don’t get your hands on it now.
Be aware of currency conversion rates.
The groups include individuals from all over the world. I’m located in the States, and there are lots of members from here. There are also members from the UK, other parts of Europe, Singapore, and so on. Use PayPal’s conversion calculator because their conversion rate may be different from what you see online. That’s what I learned with my first international purchase when I ended up paying more than I expected because the rate I googled and PayPal’s rate was different.
If you’re not sure, always ask.
Don’t be afraid to ask the seller questions. They’re usually responsive. If they don’t respond right away, just remember it’s not you. They’re busy too, and they might have put it in multiple groups. If you want more pictures, you should ask for more pictures. If I’m going to spend $100 on my book, I better be getting a book in excellent shape. I will want to see pictures and will want to confirm the condition. Also, confirm prices or ask for a shipping estimate.
Be considerate as well. If you’re no longer interested, please let them know you’re not interested so they can move on to the next buyer.
Always use PayPal goods and services.
You are buying at your own risk. PayPal affords you some buyer protection when you choose the goods and services option. Once long ago, I was scammed on Ebay. Everything seemed legitimate, but the seller changed all their information after I paid. Luckily, I paid with PayPal, and I was refunded my money fairly quickly. This experience taught me to be cautious of all sellers, and it instilled greater trust in PayPal’s buyer protection. People have had different experiences with PayPal, but this was mine and why I am willing to use PayPal goods and services.
Be wary if a seller asks you to do otherwise.
Tracking can provide some relief.
If you’re in the states, books can be shipped via media mail. It’s cheaper, somewhere around $5, but it also does not have insurance. I haven’t had any issues with media mail, but you never know.
Having a tracking number will be helpful. Most will provide it without you asking, but in case they don’t, consider asking for it. With shipping delays, this will help you keep an eye on whether it’s been shipped and where it is in transit.
Regular hard covers are the real steals here.
For $65, I received 12 hardcover books. That was an amazing haul! The books were also in good or better condition. If you’re in the neighborhood for new books and have to peruse the listings, you can usually find great deals on these.
There are ARCs available.
I know there’s controversy about selling ARCs, but I will not get into that. This is merely to inform you that ARCs can often be found here. The groups I joined only allowed ARCs for trade. Sometimes individuals will choose to include ARCs with a purchase. Other times ARCs will be traded for another ARC or finished copies of books. The trade ratio is not always 1:1, which means an ARC will be traded for two books or maybe even more. Some ARCs are more coveted than others, so you can expect sellers will want more books or might only be willing to trade it for something they are seeking.
I’ve generally had a good experience with sellers and my purchases. Some are quicker to drop the items off and others may take a little longer–I’ve never had anyone take more than a week to send out an item. I’ve purchased from international sellers as well as those in the States. Most sellers package things very well, but I’ve had one or two who have not. Luckily the books weren’t damaged. Again, remember that you’re buying at your own risk so always stay cautious.
Was I able to find a copy of that book I was looking for? After almost a month, I was able to. I paid more than double the price for it, but that was the going price, and I really wanted it. Participating in these groups encouraged me to sign up for book boxes to lessen the strain on my wallet when I wanted a special edition. I’ll let you know how that goes…
I would to hear your thoughts about BST groups. Also, if you’re part of any groups, I would love to hear about your experiences or any tips you might have.