Online book sales bring in close to $50,000 for Friends of the Library

Online book sales bring in close to $50,000 for Friends of the Library
Nikki Robinson, volunteer in charge of the online sales, works out of the Dove Library mailroom. When the program first started, she worked out of her dining room. Photo by Ellen Wright

CARLSBAD—“Excellent service! Highly recommended seller!” and “Product was exactly as described — in excellent condition!” are phrases repeated over and over on The Dove Library’s eBay feedback profile.

The Friends of the Carlsbad Library raised close to $50,000 selling donated books online during the last fiscal year.

Nikki Robinson, the volunteer in charge of the online sales program lists and sells the books on eBay and Amazon.

She uses Amazon to sell the majority of the books but if something will go for a higher price, she lists it on eBay.

This past June, the library sold a signed edition of excerpts from “Visions of Cody” by Jack Kerouac for $1,500 on eBay, according to Robinson. The book was received like most donations — with no special care taken.

“It was amazing that the (volunteers) found it because it was signed and dated at the back of the book on the last page, and usually if it’s signed by the author, it’s on the title page in the front,” said Robinson.

She suspects it came from an estate liquidation.

The eBay account, clf92009-2012, has 100 percent positive feedback, from more than 300 reviewers. The Carlsbad Library Friends Amazon account also has a good track record, with 4.9 out of 5 stars, based on over 300 reviews.

The program has been running for 2 1/2 years. The first year the online sales raised about $30,000. Robinson said the $20,000 increase in sales this year was because she’s getting better at it and because more volunteer time is dedicated to the operation.

About 80 volunteers spend an average of four hours a week volunteering for the library. Along with Robinson, 10 volunteers are dedicated to the online sales department.

All of the proceeds go directly to the library, for technology upgrades, new books and programs like the Summer Reading Program and are received at the Dove location or the Georgina Cole Library in Carlsbad Village.

The online sales team gets first pick of the donated books, unless a book is a particularly popular book in good condition. Those books go directly into circulation to save the library from buying new editions.

The books not chosen by the online sales volunteers go to the Friends of the Library bookstores in each branch location.

Volunteers use a scanner that is updated weekly with Amazon selling prices to determine whether or not the books will be listed.

The library receives about 8,000 books a month in donations, according to Patricia Roberts, president of Friends of the Carlsbad Library.

The online sales aren’t restricted to books. The library has received close to $4,000 in revenue from selling bound magazines online, said Robinson.

DVDs, CDs and games are also sold online. The volunteers don’t have time to watch each DVD for quality so they look for scratches. If there is no visual damage, than it will be sold online or in-store at the Friends of the Library.

Donation bins are located on the south side of the Dove Library so people can donate at any time.

The online sales program and the Friends of the Library Bookstore are reliant on donations for revenue.

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