Online platform helps second-hand books find new home

Summary

Books in Belgium lets you easily sell the books you no longer need and find the ones you’ve been wanting to read – even if they were published in 1785

All booked up

Too much is never enough. Or is it?

Even in the age of swiping and scrolling, staggering numbers of mass-produced books are left craving a second, third or umpteenth life. The recently launched Books in Belgium platform helps them find new readers.

“I started reading a lot of books when I was a teenager,” says the online bookshop’s co-founder Dieter Byttebier. “At university, I realised that I would never live long enough to read them all. So, I sold part of my collection at a book market. One thing led to another, and I became a book seller on the side.”

Byttebier (pictured left) had the books and wanted to sell them, but he lacked a platform that combined all the perks of a physical shop – “great service in a buyer-friendly environment” – with the benefits of an online shop that is always accessible and has a virtually limitless supply.

So earlier this year, he gathered a small team and started Books in Belgium. “We want to make it as easy as possible to buy and sell books,” he says. “We eliminate a lot of the hassle on both sides.”

On Books in Belgium, sellers can print a packing label and access a very large database. “Such services help you save a lot of time and limit the administrative load.”

The bookshop caters to both professional second-hand dealers and readers looking to lighten their own bookshelves. Putting the books up for sale is free, and you receive 91% of the price you get.

There are nearly 100,000 books currently on the site, in multiple languages. Though a large majority are in Dutch, there are more than 10,000 each in English and French.

One of the rarer finds currently for sale are 69 of the 70 volumes that comprise the complete works of French philosopher Voltaire, published in 1785. That will set you back €3,000.

At the other end of the scale are recent books by popular Flemish authors like Tom Lanoye and Dimitri Verhulst that can be bought for €2, plus shipping. We found a Finnegan’s Wake and a volume from The Dark Tower series for €5.

“We want to spread the charm of paper books to as many people as possible by offering an extensive and diverse range,” says Byttebier. “Some people switch to electronic books because they cannot find a paper version, but research shows that if the price is right, most people prefer good old paper.”