According to the College Board, students in college spend an average of $1,200 per year on textbooks for classes. When you’re already managing tuition and room and board, this can put a big strain on your funds, a particular challenge for students, and the hardships they are facing due to the current pandemic. But it is possible to ease this strain by reselling your textbooks once the semester is over to recoup some of your investment.
There are many options available for selling your textbooks, between local bookstores and dozens of sites. Having a fuller understanding of your choices will help you get the most money you can for your textbooks.
Sell Textbooks Online
The quickest way to sell your textbooks may be online. Check dozens of textbook websites to find one that offers a worthwhile price.
Bookscouter allows you to search by ISBN for a textbook. The site offers a picture of the textbook with details like title, author, and edition so you can confirm it’s the correct book.
Bookscouter searches dozens of sites for offers to buy your book, saving you time over searching sites individually. You may see several sites offering similar prices for your book. There are pros and cons to each site, so check out reviews from other textbook sellers to help make your decision.
Keep in mind that Bookscouter only seeks to compare prices on books. It’s important to review each individual site for its guidelines on:
- Condition of the book you’re selling
- Cost of mailing your book to the company
- How to pack your book for shipping
- When you can expect to receive your payment
- Payment methods, such as PayPal, direct deposit, check, etc.
If you plan to sell a lot of used textbooks, it may be worth setting up a Pro account with Bookscouter. You can try it free for three days and then pay $29.99 a month. With a Pro account, you can search multiple ISBNs at a time and see the 14-day price history of books you want to sell.
Bookscouter doesn’t have a phone number listed on their site. Instead, they offer a fillable form with an average response time of a few hours during the business day. Select “Contact” from the main menu on the homepage to open the form.
Next semester, consider renting your textbooks from a site like Chegg.com. Save money on your books and return them when your classes are over with no hassle.
Booksrun is a site that buys your textbooks directly. You can search for your book by ISBN, title or author. Once you select your book, make sure to confirm these details are correct:
- Binding–hardcover or paperback
Then, select the condition of your book for a price:
- Used/Like New: Your book may have minor flaws and defects from use, but the dust cover is in place and the pages are unaffected by tears and writing. All support material is included with the book.
- Used/Very Good: Your book has minor wear and may include some tears. None of the damage to your book impacts its readability. Any support materials are provided with the book.
- Used/Acceptable: Your book may be damaged by creases, odor, writing, and highlighting. The only unacceptable damage is water damage. Pages must still be readable. Support materials are included with your book.
Keep in mind that if any support materials like access codes, CDs, DVDs or study sheets are not included with your shipment, the price may adjust accordingly. Research your textbook in advance to see what materials came with it originally if you’re not sure.
Good To Know
If you can’t find the ISBN on your textbook, search by author, title and edition. Try to confirm the textbook by comparing covers. Once you locate the ISBN, use it to find price comparisons before listing your textbook for sale.
eBay isn’t exclusive to textbooks but, with the right keywords, you can easily sell textbooks using the site. Your first 250 listings each month are free, although eBay does charge fees once your textbooks sell.
When you set a listing price, take into account that eBay charges $0.30 plus up to 12.55% of each sale. Keep in mind that you can list items as “buy now” with a set price or “auction” where potential buyers can bid on your textbooks.
If you set a price, consider checking the box to allow buyers to make an offer on your textbook. You can always decline offers that are too low. If your textbooks don’t sell, you can relist them.
Sell Used Textbooks in Your Community
If you don’t want the hassle of shipping your textbooks somewhere, try selling them in your community. If you live in a college town, chances are there is more than one textbook store in your community.
4. College Bookstore
If you took a class at your local college campus, your class will likely run during the next semester, as well. Your college bookstore may buy the textbook back from you if it’s in good condition. The great thing about your college bookstore is that you can often get cash on the same day.
Keep in mind that books get new editions to keep up with changing times and technology. If this happens and the professor is moving to a new edition the next semester, your textbook may be outdated.
Before you go to the bookstore, look online to see what your textbook is going for on textbook resale sites. This gives you an idea of the book’s value. If the college bookstore doesn’t offer you as much as you can get online, you may decide that the wait is worth the extra money you’ll make.
5. Local Bookstore
If you live in a college town, there is probably an off-campus bookstore. Do a quick online search in your area for a textbook store or any bookstore that may buy used books. Before you go in, call ahead to see if they are currently buying used textbooks.
You may not get a quote over the phone, but at least you’ll know if it’s worth going in. Just as you did with your college bookstore, check online first to see what the going rate for your textbook is.
Tips For Selling Used Textbooks
If you sell your books at a local bookstore, you don’t need to put much effort into marketing your textbooks. However, if you list them online, there are a few key points that may make a difference in making sales quickly.
Use as many details as you can in the description of your book. Include details like the name of the book, edition, author, and ISBN. Include information about the topic of the book, the name of the class you took, and the condition of the textbook.
If there are flaws in the book, be honest about them. It’s better to be honest early than to have an issue after you sell the book. If flaws don’t impact the legibility of the book, be sure to mention that.
When you list textbooks on sites like eBay, you have to list your textbooks for sale with pictures. Take as many as possible, especially to highlight any flaws for full disclosure. The main photo on your listing is the book’s cover for easy identification.
Make sure identifying details like the title, author, edition and ISBN are clear in your photos. This helps give buyers the confidence that they are buying the correct book for their needs.
Reasons You May Not Get Money Back on Textbooks
You may search online or go by your local bookstore to find out that you can’t get anything back for your book. Some sites may offer as little as a few cents. There are several reasons this may happen:
- There’s a new edition of your book available.
- Your book has too much damage.
- The binding isn’t strong enough to keep the pages together.
- There’s too much writing or highlighting on the pages of your textbook.
- Your book sustained water damage.
Your timing may also be off. By the end of the current semester, students may already have bought textbooks for the following semester. If this happens and there isn’t a demand for your book, wait until the next semester comes around.
Talk to your professor and ask if they plan to use your textbook again for future classes. This helps you know whether to save the book and try to resell later or let it go now. Waiting a couple of months may make a difference in making money back on your book.
Other Ideas For Selling Used Textbooks
If your book doesn’t sell, consider donating it. Thrift stores are a great place to reduce clutter and give someone else a chance to use your old textbooks. Even if someone isn’t taking a college class, the topic may pique their interest and be an interesting read.
If you spent a lot on your textbooks and can’t let them go, add them to your library. If the textbooks have great content, you may be able to use them again in the future when you need to brush up on your knowledge or reference something.