Marketplace Expert: Don’t throw out your Biggles books

For many who grew up in the UK and around the commonwealth, Biggles was an ever-present part of their childhood. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find an attic or second-hand bookshop throughout the country without a copy or two of a Biggles book somewhere.

And though it can be tempting to get rid of all the books you’ve got lying around, chucking out your Biggles books could leave you with regrets later. Why? Because the adventures of James Bigglesworth that kept you entertained as a child could now be worth a pretty penny.

Antique copies of Captain W.E. Johns’ tales in good condition can often fetch around £30-£40, which is a good return on the years they have lived in your attic. First editions, on the other hand, can go for several hundred pounds, assuming they’re in spiffing nick. One rare first edition is currently looking as though it may sell for more than £2,000 – a handy profit on the original three-shilling price tag!

But how do you go about turning those old books in your attic into a profit? There are a few key things to keep in mind before you throw them all on eBay.

Pick your product carefully

Although there is a good market for almost every Biggles book, regardless of age or condition, there are certain instalments in the series that are worth more to collectors, just like books in better condition will make more money in an auction.

Make sure to check the first page of each book that you are selling to see what edition of the book it is. First editions sell for considerably more than other prints, especially if they are in excellent condition. In fact, noticing that your copy of Biggles Flies East is a first edition could be the difference between it selling for £40 and £400.

Know your worth

Although it’s common advice, it’s vitally important to make sure you know exactly how much you should be asking for when it comes to Biggles books. As mentioned above, all it takes is a few words on the first page to completely change the worth of your books, and there are a whole host of other factors that could do the same.

One such factor is the condition of the book that you’re selling. With Biggles being such a huge part of so many childhoods, many of the books left in your attic or on a bookshelf are in relatively poor condition. However, there is a huge range of conditions that your book could be in, and while a well loved book may not fetch top dollar, it could still be worth more than a copy with a broken spine, for example.

According to book experts Abe Books, the quality of a book ranges from a Reading Copy – where it is only good for reading – to As New. Many books that have been read or have sat on a shelf for years will likely fall into the acceptable to good range – but if you’re not sure, then it’s worth double checking a guide like Abe’s.

In general, it’s well worth doing your research. Sites like Abe’s are renowned evaluators of book value, and there are several specialist sites that can, alongside eBay, help you decide how much you should list your Biggles for.

List well to fly high

Once you’re sure of the value of your books, the only thing left is to maximise your chances of getting a great price. Here’s where that research comes into play; by appearing as knowledgeable as possible, your customers are reassured that you’re offering a fair price.

There are a whole host of guides on how to best list your goods online, but when you’re listing books, the condition is of paramount importance. That is a point that should be front and centre, alongside whether or not the volume is a first edition.

Also be sure to include plenty of photographs of the book. These should show both the overall condition of the book (with the Biggles name front and centre) and any blemishes you have mentioned in your listing. Don’t try and conceal anything. It’s Biggles that everyone is here for, and if you have a book that people want to buy, it’s Biggles that they will overlook small problems for.

Don’t crash when coming in to land

With just delivery left, be sure that you don’t make a mistake that could see your childhood books ruined. Since quality is so important when it comes to selling vintage books like these, it’s truly vital that they arrive in the same condition that you dispatched them in. That means properly packaging them – use lots of bubble wrap! – and picking the perfect courier for the job.

Luckily for you, Fastlane have dabbled a bit in logistics, and we work with the best couriers in the world. That means that you get the benefits of a premier courier like UPS or DHL, so your parcel is definitely in the safest hands possible, while still getting great savings compared to booking directly.

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