Money Moral Dilemma: Should I sell the books I got for free from my old job?

edited 23 November 2021 at 1:56PM in Ebay, Auctions, Car Boot & Jumble Sales
42 replies 24.7K views


  • JayDJayD Forumite
    624 Posts
    Part of the Furniture 500 Posts Combo Breaker
    It's a bit too soon to assume they wont want the books back - and probably not the best idea to ask them if they do. Certainly for hygiene reasons alone I cannot see them wanting them back but, as others have previously suggested, it is best to wait at least 6 months and maybe even a year. I hope they are able to prove to be a future nest egg for you.
  • DockroadpigeonDockroadpigeon Forumite
    1 Post
    First Post
    MoneySaving Newbie
    Contact your old employer and offer to return them if they are prepared to pay the postage and insurance - bet they won't.
  • ScillydiverScillydiver Forumite
    4 Posts
    First Post
    MoneySaving Newbie
    If the books were "given" to you rather than "loaned" to you whilst an employee, they are yours to do as you wish if no longer employed there. If your previous employer gave you the books when they were available for anyone to purchase then if you excuse the pun, they have relinquished their "title" of ownership by giving them away. Charity shops find specialist books can sit unsold on their shelves for a long time, unless they are one of the charities that manages a specialist book outlet. 
    Entirely your choice, sell them or ask a charity if they would be useful to them.  
  • CarolbbCarolbb Forumite
    1 Post
    First Post
    MoneySaving Newbie
    It sounds as if these were gifted to you. My son worked for a publisher, much as described. He left with copies of books he had worked on and  any others. He was not asked to return them nor told he couldn't sell or share them.
  • Chris_JayChris_Jay Forumite
    2 Posts
    Second Anniversary First Post
    MoneySaving Newbie
    I don't know if this will help; many years ago, a friend of mine worked for a big publishing company, and like the original poster, was given a copy of each book he worked on. He gave me some books that were incredibly helpful to me and my young family, a dictionary, an encyclopedia, a Scrabble dictionary, and other useful books, and he assured me that they were his to give away. The company's only request was that the dust covers were inside out, and a corner clipped.
    The poster doesn't say why she or he no longer works there, and it's nobody's business, but I would, if it were me, ask the HR department, if it worried me that much. Someone suggested that the books may contain sensitive material, in which case, wouldn't have been given to a staff member, and an Official Secrets Act signature probably would have been required. Just my thoughts...
  • Ellesse_39Ellesse_39 Forumite
    1 Post
    First Post
    MoneySaving Newbie
    Former in-house staffer here.

    Gifting books to staff isn't standard practice AFAIK.

    If you worked on these books and they're editorial/house frees, they do not belong to you – they're reference shelf for the company's department.

    If they have been explicitly gifted to you by the company, then they are yours.

    If you were freelance and they are comps for your work, they belong to you.

    However, as a staffer you should know what's on the colophon page: standard  boilerplate rights copy says that titles may not be lent, passed on, resold, etc.

    Don't resell them. Contact your former employer – perhaps discreetly via a colleague – and ask if they want them back. If these titles don't actually belong to you, it's a bit embarrassing that you've walked off with them, but at least this way you're doing the right thing.

    If they give you permission to keep them, donate them to charity where they can be legally resold.
  • Whilst I have not been in a situation like this I have tried to sell (on eBay and Amazon Marketplace) study, technical and educational books we previously purchased and no longer require. Most of these originally cost a fortune and are large, weighty tomes but the cost of postage is often as much or greater than you can sell them for. Consequently I tend to donate them to specialist charity book shops. I suggest you do the same - saves storage space and eases your dilemma - doesn't help with any extra cash for Christmas though.
  • FitzmichaelFitzmichael Forumite
    164 Posts
    Part of the Furniture 100 Posts Combo Breaker
    I really don't understand. The OP says he was given the book, so why are there so many posters querying his right to do so?
  • Spoonie_TurtleSpoonie_Turtle Forumite
    2.8K Posts
    1,000 Posts Second Anniversary Name Dropper
    I really don't understand. The OP says he was given the book, so why are there so many posters querying his right to do so?
    Probably because the OP is also querying their right to - they *think* yes, wife *thinks* no, but if OP were so sure they'd just do it anyway.
Sign In or Register to comment.
Latest MSE News and Guides