Should your State Psychological Association hold a used book sale?

Another potential revenue stream to help offset your convention costs?

Should your State Psychological Association hold a used book sale to serve members and make some extra cash at your next convention?

Holding a used book sale at your state psychological association’s convention could be a way to add a little extra income to the event to help offset the costs of running the convention. It would also be a great service to members. It wouldn’t come for free however– you’d have to ask members to donate books of course, but more to the point you’d need volunteers to offer their time and sweat to organize it.

If you’ve ever been to a library sale where Friends of the Library sell used books you may have some idea about what I’m suggesting. Not only does the library sell off books it no longer wants, other people looking to support the library donate books for the sale. Then on the sale dates people come in and purchase the used books for bargain basement prices typically in the range of fifty cents to two dollars. If you’re interested in visiting a library sale ask about it at your local library (some even have ongoing sales in their lobby) or check out for a schedule of used book sale events near you (Pro tip: if you’re going to open the sale up to the public and list your used book sale on a site like book sale finder be sure to offer members/paid convention attendees an exclusive time at the beginning of the sale for just them to purchase– if you advertise the sale publicly you may get people with barcode scanners connected to their smartphones who come in and quickly buy up many of the most valuable books in order to sell them online for a profit).

How would a State Psychological Association used book sale look? Over the course of the year members would be invited to donate their used psychology-related books for the sale. It certainly would be a way for retiring members or people who have books they no longer need to contribute things of value to the association while also de-cluttering their shelves (or getting boxes out of their basement). It would of course be different from state to state depending on the size of the state and the convention/workshops it holds. You’d need to find some free space somewhere where you’re holding the convention/conference with some tables or at least places for bins of books. You would of course need volunteers to help collect and organize the used books that members donate (preferably on topics relevant to psychology) as well as to help staff the sale itself. The books would generally be sold at a relatively higher price early in the convention (ex: $1 to $2 per book) and then the price per book would get lower as the sale progressed. Near the end of the sale the price could become a fill-a-bag or fill-a-box sale where the price becomes per filled bag or box instead of per book (ex: $5 per bag). The assumption is that the books left near the end of the sale are the less valuable or desirable books. The fill-a-bag/box sale would happen for whatever books are left at near the end because you don’t want to have too many books left if you can help it. Anything left at the end could potentially be taken to sell at a Half Price Books or other used book store that purchases books (or simply donated for free to a thrift store if no one else wants them).

A used book sale with books donated by members would not only provide some extra income to the association, it would be a great service to other members (and possibly even something that convinces some book-loving members on the fence about coming to the convention to register for and come to the convention). It would be a way to have used books gathering dust on a shelf and that otherwise might end up in the recycling find a new home with a new psychologist, student or other convention attendee. Having all of the great books that come in available at a low price would make for a great draw to the book sale (and also the convention where the book sale is being held). However, some books that come in will of course be worth much more than the $0.50 to $1 to $2 that library sales often charge for books. The great deals are a big part of the fun of going to a used book sale. With that being said, if associations want to get into the business of selling some of the donated books online via Amazon they could certainly consider signing up to do that here. Volunteers (or staff when applicable) might go all out with expensive Bluetooth bar code scanners connected to their phones with apps that would tell them how much a given used book is selling for on Amazon. However, listing books, shipping individual merchant-fulfilled book orders or labeling book shipments for Amazon FBA is likely to be a greater time commitment than many associations are willing to engage in versus a one-time sale at the convention. While associations probably won’t want to become online resellers themselves, perhaps a less time consuming compromise might be to flag any recent textbooks or similar items that come in and use the BookScouter app or BookScouter website to connect with resellers who are willing to buy certain higher-priced textbooks (and some other books) and pay for you to ship those books to them so they can resell them.

Due to the work involved including requiring a lot of volunteer time, a used book sale may not be something associations want to organize every year. However, a periodic used book sale where members donate books to the association for sale at their convention or at a workshop could both bring in extra money and help get books that aren’t being used into the hands of new people who will put them to use (at bargain prices). It could be a fun and interesting service that would likely be both popular with members and bring in some extra cash to help offset some of the costs of running the convention/workshop.

Thanks, I hope things are going well with everyone.