How to Sell Your Used College Textbooks | Top Universities

How to Sell Your Used College Textbooks

By Guest Writer

Updated September 22, 2015 Updated September 22, 2015

Guest post: Alison Blankenship

That thick, heavy statistical learning theory tome would make a great doorstop, right? At the end of a semester, most students are left with a ton of used textbooks they will probably never crack open again. Selling used textbooks is a great way to unclutter your dorm, lighten the load in your backpack, and add a few bucks to your pizza fund.

Believe it or not, there is a strategy to selling used textbooks. Here are some of the most common questions that students ask: 

Student with books

  • When is the best time to sell used textbooks?
  • Where should I sell college textbooks?
  • How much should I expect to get back?
  • What if I’ve made notes in the margins?

These are all important things to consider, but they don’t have to feel overwhelming. Selling used textbooks is easier and more profitable than you might imagine, if you keep the following pointers in mind:

When to sell college textbooks

First, ask yourself if it’s the right time to sell your used textbooks. How much you get back depends on when you put them on the market. If classes are just starting, there will be a lot of students interested in purchasing used texts. The end of the semester might not be as profitable, since classes are ending.

As a rule, a textbook’s value plunges during the summer, and then skyrockets when school comes back into session. Unload your books just before the next semester begins, instead of waiting a few years or until you’ve graduated. The price of college textbooks can decrease over longer periods of time, especially when publishers release newer editions.

What to do before you sell 

Just like putting a used car on the market, you’ll get more money back if your book is in mint condition. Bookstores understand that college students highlight paragraphs, dog-ear pages and make notes in the margins. But that doesn’t mean everyone will be keen to see all those doodles you scrawled when your professor was droning on about that time he backpacked to Amsterdam.

Try to clean the pages as much as you can without causing further damage. Then, when the next semester kicks off, use painter’s tape to protect the bindings and covers on your books. Instead of writing directly onto the pages, scribble notes on small pieces of adhesive paper, to keep your books in impressive condition until it’s time to sell.

Benefits to selling used textbooks on campus

Most universities have their own bookstores, or are located close to a store that will deal in selling used textbooks. There’s minimal hassle with this option, as students won’t have to worry about getting to a post office to ship their items to an online buyer. Unfortunately, the profits are often considerably less than going through an online marketplace – unless you’re getting rid of a used paperback.

If you’re going to sell your college textbooks to a bookstore during buyback season, make sure you get there early. The longer you wait while buybacks are at their peak, the more likely it is that you’ll find bookstores have reached their quotas and are no longer to offer you a good price.

Benefits to selling college textbooks online 

The virtual textbook market can be highly competitive, but selling college textbooks online has quickly become the preferred alternative for most students, because it allows you to offer your books to a wider group of potential buyers.

Browse the internet to find other items that are similar to the one you’re offering, so you can set your prices competitively. A quick way to do this is to jot down the ISBN of your book, and then search for it on an aggregate site that will list pricing from several buyers. Some students use this to get an idea of the item’s value before posting it online or selling it to a friend. This allows you to set your price and target prospective students that live nearby.

Once you’ve settled on a site to list your book, be upfront about the item’s condition. Then, pack it in a padded box or envelope, and use media mail to send it at a cheap rate.

To conclude, you’ve likely spent a lot on textbooks, so why not maximize your financial return? The sale of a used book can get you a little extra pocket change, and help your classmates, who also want to save cash by buying secondhand.

Alison Blankenship helps in the marketing department at TextbookRush. Alison uses her six years of work experience and her past college experience to help improve user engagement and simplicity for college students.

This article was originally published in September 2015 .

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