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Selling Your Collection

Selling your collection can be a natural consequence of seeking a valuation, in a lot of cases the books have been bequeathed to a relative or the next of kin may want to part with them quickly. This is completely understandable and should be respected

There are a number of avenues open to sellers

Sell to a Specialist Wisden Dealer

Sell at an Auction

Sell online

Hopefully the information that follows will be helpful

Selling to a Specialist Wisden Bookseller

Wisden dealers will mainly be interested in pre 1977 editions and some may only want pre 1946 almanacks. A collection of older editions that includes the more modern ones will be of interest.

Condition is important and in many ways the seller is at the mercy of the buyer in this respect. A seller has no idea whether the collection left to them is in good bad or woeful condition as they have no benchmark against which to measure it.

A Wisden dealer will more than likely buy the full set of books from the seller, thus removing the collection effectively and quickly. In a lot of cases this is what is generally required by the seller.

The amount of knowledge held by the specialist dealers and the respect they have in the world of antiquarian books should not be under-stated, but it is also worth noting that as with any transaction the seller may wish to consider the following;

  • Ask the potential buyer to bring along some examples of Wisdens in pristine condition from the years that you have for sale and enquire that if yours are in such pristine condition, what kind of price could be achieved. Ask the buyer to show you the books they have before they see yours.
  • Do not allow any buyer to Cherry-Pick the best ones. You do not want to be left with the ones that cannot sell
  • Try and get at least two offers

Selling at auction

Selling at a real time auction can be beneficial for a seller. The same rule applies as stated in the selling to a Specialist Wisden Bookseller section. The older editions will be of more interest.

Depending on the collection an auctioneer will discuss what he or she believes the books may reach at auction. If the seller wishes to proceed the books would be taken away and would then appear at a future auction. This process allows the books to find their value through an auction that will be attended by both dealers and private buyers.

Consideration should be given to the following;

  • Your collection will be sold by the auctioneer in order to gain the maximum price, that may seem rather obvious but that results in some books being sold individually and some in groups ie 1970-1979 sold as one lot.
  • By breaking up and selling a collection, some items may be unsold. These will either be returned to the seller or put in the next auction.
  • At least 15% and in some cases as high as 30% of the hammer price will be taken by the auctioneer in fees. If a book sold for £60, the seller would receive between £42 and £51.
  • The buyer would also pay a premium of between 15% and 30%, so on a sale of £60 the auctioneer will make between £30 and £36.
  • Attendance at auction has dropped over the last few years as fees have steadily increased, this has resulted in low prices being achieved.

Selling at an online auction

Online auction sites do offer a wonderful outlet. The rules of these sites do tend to help the buyer, which is necessary as its the buyers who determine the success or failure of an online auction site.

Online sites such as eBay are time consuming to use, but they do give the seller the advantage of letting the market take its course. Over the years the research undertaken by the WCC has shown that listing a collection of Wisdens individually with three or ideally more photographs and a detailed description will result in a higher end-sale price.

Some online auctions are also used by established collectors and Wisden booksellers, this is certainly not a reason to ignore them but it is wise to remember that the starting prices for these editions may differ very little from those offered by sellers away from the auction. This would have the effect of items being unsold as potential buyers do not frequent such sites

Consideration should be given to the following;

  • Listing on auction sites is time consuming
  • Any site that offers to buy your books from you so that they can list them are really dealers but using a different end selling tool.
  • Online auction sites, even with the best intentions of the administrators, are open to abuse. non-payers, complaints when the book/s arrive etc.

Over the years members of the WCC have bought from all of the above and have been very happy. Those who have had reason to sell Wisdens have tended to favour selling to dealers. It is generally straight-forward, simple and convenient.