How do I dispose of my collection of Wodehouse books?
The P G Wodehouse Society (UK) sometimes receives enquiries about the disposal of collections of Wodehouse books. This is our guidance on the general possibilities, as well as an outline of the circumstances in which, exceptionally, the Society may be able to offer more specific assistance.
Please note: Our Society is run by volunteers, and we regret that we are unable to become involved in book distribution/selling arrangements unless an individual Society member feels able to take something on as a very particular favour. But do read on.
If you have books that you would like to give away
Although the Society naturally comprises eager readers of Wodehouse, we would all like to see Wodehouse appreciated by a wider audience. Therefore do please think about handing your books to a charity to sell. Many people have begun reading Wodehouse after finding an odd little book in a charity shop or on a stall somewhere. Help us to find new readers in this manner.
Purely as a suggestion, take a look at Oxfam, which has an extensive second-hand book business. Local shop managers will form their own policy on whether they will collect books from you, or whether you have to take them to Oxfam. Your closest Oxfam shop can be found via their website (here). Alternatively, you might like to consider a local animal charity, since Wodehouse supported the BideaWee animal rescue charity near his Long Island home.
If you have valuable books or complete collections that you would like to sell
The first thing to do is to compile a list of the titles you have, the publisher, and the condition of each book. Ensure that you understand the difference between ‘first edition’, ‘first printing’, and later printings. It is easy to misrepresent a book quite innocently, so do some research on how to describe the books accurately, using commonly understood book-dealing language.
There are exceptions, but apart from true first editions, few paperbacks and few hardbacks without dust jackets, dated from about 1920 onwards, will be worth trying to sell or value as individual items. Though this may not be welcome news, it could well be the realistic conclusion.
A warning about the need to extract books in poor condition: If the spine of a book is badly torn or missing, if pages are loose, if the corners of the book are badly scuffed, then its inclusion in material offered to a dealer will create a bad impression, and it is likely to reduce the dealer’s enthusiasm. Only the very rarest items will be considered in that state. Current asking prices for books are readily available, from (e.g.) AbeBooks or Amazon, but do be aware that the asking price is often optimistic and will not necessarily reflect the eventual selling price. A more realistic assessment of prices on items which have actually sold can be obtained by reviewing prices achieved for completed listings on eBay and by reviewing online results for auctions at major auction houses. Please remember that dealers earn their living from the difference in price between what they pay for their stock and its selling price.
A few suggestions:
Auction. If your collection has enough good books in it, locate a reputable auction house with which you can do business.
Sale to a Second-hand Bookshop. Be aware that general bookshops are unlikely to have specialist Wodehouse knowledge, and you might be disappointed with the offer made for the books.
Sale to an Online Dealer. You may care to review the offers for sale of Wodehouse books on internet sites such as www.abebooks.co.uk or www.amazon.co.uk to see if any of the dealers using those sites might be approached to offer your type of collection.
Sale via eBay. If you have used the eBay auction site to help build your collection, you may have one or two favourite established eBay dealers with whom you could discuss arranging the sale of the collection (possibly on commission). Alternatively, if you have the time, experience and IT expertise, you could establish yourself as an eBay seller, although this does necessarily involve the packing and shipping of books sold.
The P G Wodehouse Society (UK)’s Interest in Collection Sales
It is possible that one or two of our members might welcome notice that a collection of some note or rarity is about to come onto the market. This might be done via a notice on our website or in our quarterly journal, Wooster Sauce. We do not carry advertisements as such. Whether or not to include the notice in our media is the final decision of the respective Editors (who may consult the Committee before making their decision).
Only under very unusual circumstances would we consider carrying a notice from a non-member, in which case the material for sale would need to be something quite exceptional.
Please write to our Website Editor – firstname.lastname@example.org – who will , if necessary, contact our journal Editor.
Please note: The Society cannot take responsibility for the accuracy of the information provided by the seller, and cannot be involved in any way in the negotiation of the price of any item. We would place one notice in one edition of Wooster Sauce and/or one notice on our website for an agreed length of time not exceeding six months. The notice would include the seller’s contact details and thereafter we would take no part in any negotiation between buyer and seller. We are a literary society, not a book-dealing organisation, and at all times we reserve the right to decline to put any notice in our media.