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Page turner: Getting $ for your used books

J.D. Salinger

Amazon.com calls itself on online marketplace, which means that it doesn't only sell things - it buys them, too. If you happen to have a book, CD or DVD that Amazon wants, you can send it to them and get a gift card in return.

The process is simple: For books, enter the ISBN of the title you're interested in selling. If you see a message that says, "Sell us your item," follow the link to find out what Amazon's offering for it. You'll also find instructions for printing a prepaid mailing label. The process is similar for DVDs, CDs, even electronic items.

I was clearing out some bookcases recently and checked about a dozen titles to see if they were on Amazon's "wanted" list. Three were. I wouldn't get much in the way of gift cards - $1.05 for a hardcover edition of "The Help," and $3.95 for an unopened copy of "The Office, Season 1." But $4 is better than $0. And it frees up bookshelf space.

But be careful you're not giving away a treasure. One of the books I priced was a hardcover copy of J.D. Salinger's "Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters" that I bought back when I was in high school. Amazon was offering a couple of dollars for that one.

My copy, though, was a first edition, and I wondered if that might up the ante. So I checked eBay, which had two first editions listed: one for $800, the other for $1,000. There's no guarantee, of course, that the books will fetch that price. But instead of sending my copy off to Amazon, I'm going to call a used book dealer and see if I can do better.

You can learn more about Amazon's buy-back program here.

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