A number of viewpoints exist concerning how to clean books. Some sellers prefer to avoid this process to save time. However, if you are just beginning, we suggest cleaning books before grading and shipping. This will help you avoid overlooking damage or any issues that may affect customer satisfaction. Positive customer experiences lead to positive customer reviews.
After receiving a minimum of five to ten positive reviews, your seller account should become Buy Box-eligible. When this happens, your page becomes more visible, and sales tend to increase. As time passes and your account receives positive reviews, you can decide whether or not to continue cleaning books. Like most processes in bookselling, the key to cleaning books is to do it quickly. Cleaning books is a simple process that does not need to take long.
Microfiber cloth or towel
Spray bottle containing Isopropyl Alcohol
Heat Gun (optional)
Start by creating a stack of books. Next, use a Scotty Peeler to remove stickers from the cover or back of the book. Since you are charging your customers more than you paid, it would be wise to remove the price from the book. Some stickers are more difficult to remove than others. These are the large USED stickers/barcodes on the back of books. It's often more efficient to leave the stickers on due to the work involved. The customer is aware that they are buying a used book and it is okay to leave these on the book. You can grade the book either as Good or Acceptable with the sticker still on.
If you are determined to remove a large label, a heat gun should do the job. Heat softens the glue in the sticker, allowing it to be removed easily. Make sure you hold the heat gun at a distance to avoid burning yourself or the book.
Next, flip through the books to see if there are pencil marks on the first few pages. Sometimes used bookstores will indicate the price somewhere on these pages. Simply erase any price or other marking. You do not need to erase everything in the book. If there are handwritten notes in the book just add this to the description of the book in the listing.
Lastly, use the spray bottle to apply a small amount of Alcohol to a microfiber cloth. Wipe the cover with a microfiber cloth or rag and repeat on the back of the book. This will get rid of most dirt, or stains. Often times, this noticeably improves the condition of the book. With this step completed, the next step will be to grade the books.
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This information was last updated, June 2021.
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