College textbooks are not cheap. Often, they can cost hundreds of dollars, and you will typically only get a fraction of what you paid when you try to sell those textbooks back to your campus bookstore.
But a university bookstore isn’t the only place where you can sell textbooks. There are other options where you may be able to sell your books for more money. Here’s what you should know about selling textbooks:
Why you should sell back textbooks
In fall 2020, students were paying an average of $84 for a new hard copy of a book and an average of 23% more for e-books than they were in 2019, according to the Education Data Initiative.
What’s more, full-time, undergraduate students spend an average of $1,240 for books and supplies in one academic year. Over the course of four years of school, that means you’d spend nearly $5,000 just on textbooks — and that’s just one of the many costs of paying for college.
By selling their textbooks back at the end of the semester, many students try to recoup their costs. The campus bookplace is a common place to try to do this, but campus bookstores tend to have rigorous standards. Often, it will only accept a few books.
Even if the campus bookstore does accept your books, most stores often offer pennies on the dollar for your textbooks, so you’re ultimately out hundreds of dollars.
How to sell your textbooks
There are a couple of ways you can approach selling your used textbooks. Some ways may be more profitable than others, but each method can earn you at least some money.
Sell your textbooks online
Selling your textbooks online may prove to be the most lucrative method to recoup the money you spent on them. Likewise, you may be able to buy your textbooks for much cheaper online than you would at a bookstore. Unfortunately, when selling your textbooks, you may have to account for extra costs such as fees and shipping when using an online platform to sell your textbooks. Read on to learn about the best places to sell your textbooks online.
Sell your textbooks to other students
As a student, you may already have access to your customers: Your fellow peers. By networking and getting to know your classmates, you may be able to sell them your textbooks for a decent price. This way, you can also skip out on having to pay fees or shipping costs that you may have to pay when selling your textbooks online.
Sell your textbooks to the campus bookstore
While taking your textbooks back to the campus bookstore to sell might be the most convenient way to sell your books, it may be the least profitable. Campus bookstores also tend to have tight criteria as to what books they’re willing to purchase. Typically, books must be in good condition and should be a recent edition in order for the store to accept them.
Where to sell your textbooks
If you’re trying to figure out where to sell textbooks, your best bet is to sell them on your own online. There are many options available to help you figure out the best price. The 17 sites and companies listed below are great options for getting started:
AbeBooks allows you to choose between two companies to work with when it comes to selling your books: TextbookRush or Ziffit. Not only is it free to ship your textbooks, but you also have the option to choose how you get paid.
- Pros: AbeBooks offers options as to where you can sell your books and compare pricing.
- Cons: You’ll need to visit a different website (either TextbookRush or Ziffit) to sell your books.
With Amazon’s textbook trade-in program, you can sell your books directly to other students and get more money.
- Pros: Amazon’s system is easy to use. By entering the title, author name and International Standard Book Number (ISBN), Amazon locates the book in their database and populates all of the book’s information in your listing. It also has a questionnaire to help you determine your book’s condition. The process is quick and easy, and shipping is free.
- Cons: The one downside of Amazon’s program is that your book already has to be in their database. If your textbook is part of a niche industry or written by a less well-known author, it won’t come up in their system. Additionally, Amazon does not allow you to enter a book’s information that isn’t already listed.
Barnes & Noble might not be your first thought when thinking of where to sell your textbooks, but this company offers a buyback program.
- Pros: Using the Barnes & Noble program is simple. All you need is your ISBN and you’ll receive a quote.
- Cons: You must have at least $10 worth of textbooks to sell in order to use the program.
BigWords donates and sells books all around the world, including to developing countries, as a way to help eliminate illiteracy.
- Pros: You can receive up to 90% of the book’s value if you bought it used originally.
- Cons: Not all buyers on BigWords pay for shipping, but some do. That’s an important factor to consider when evaluating offers since shipping costs can cut into how much money you earn.
BookByte makes it easy for you to sell your textbooks to their company. You’ll need to input the books’ title or ISBN into the company’s website. You’ll receive a quote that will remain valid for 30 days.
- Pros: Once BookByte provides you a quote, that amount remains the same for 30 days even if the value of the book goes down.
- Cons: It could take longer than 14 days for you to receive payment.
BookFinder allows you to sell back textbooks to vendors actively looking to buy. Just enter your ISBN, and you will get offers from various buyers. BookFinder is looking for new, rare and collectible books.
- Pros: With BookFinder, shipping is free, so it’s a great way to sell your textbooks and get cash back.
- Cons: BookFinder doesn’t accept all books. It only connects you to vendors if your book’s ISBN matches a listing in their database.
The process for selling textbooks on BooksRun is straightforward. You’ll need to enter the ISBN, use a QR code to ship your textbook for free and get paid either by PayPal or check.
- Pros: BooksRun is focused on being environmentally friendly. The company has a zero waste principle and has planted more than 8,000 trees.
- Cons: It can take up to four days for you to receive payment.
Similar to BookFinder, BookScouter is a site that links individuals who want to sell their books to book-buying vendors. You type in your book’s ISBN, and you can see priced purchase offers from different buyers.
- Pros: You can easily compare prices and vendor comments and choose the best offer for you. Most vendors will send you a shipping label and pay for shipping, so shipping is typically free.
- Cons: BookScouter is just the middleman that connects you to buyers. This means that not all vendors may be reputable. Be sure to do your research on each offer before agreeing to it.
Since it was founded in 2004, Cash4Books has bought and sold books all over the U.S. This company offers prepaid shipping labels so you won’t have to pay to send your books in. All you need is an ISBN.
- Pros: Sellers can receive payment for their books in 13 days or less — much more quickly than some other websites.
- Cons: Despite payment potentially being faster than some other companies, it can still take over two weeks to get paid by Cash4Books.
Unlike many websites, Decluttr offers the opportunity for sellers to get paid via direct deposit after they’ve sent their books in. Books are typically processed the day after they arrive which may result in faster payment.
- Pros: Offers three options for payment: direct deposit, PayPal or check.
- Cons: Decluttr asks that books are not visibly damaged, discolored or include any written notes or highlighting. They also ask that hardcovers come with the original cover.
eBay is the classic online auction website where interested buyers can make bids for your textbooks. To use eBay, you’ll need to create an account. When listing the products you’re selling, you’ll need to describe its condition and note the price and cost of shipping.
- Pros: If you have a product that’s high in demand, potential buyers can bid and you can potentially make more money on your textbooks.
- Cons: When selling products on eBay, you’ll have to pay several selling fees.
eCampus is an online marketplace where you can get a quote on how much your textbooks may be worth by typing in your ISBN. This company claims a 15% commission on any of your sales.
- Pros: Not only can you get instant quotes with eCampus, but shipping your books is free as well.
- Cons: It can take anywhere from three to five weeks after eCampus receives your textbooks for you to be paid.
Like most platforms where you can sell your textbooks, you’ll need the ISBNs to receive your quotes. GoTextbooks pays by check and by PayPal.
- Pros: You can get instant quotes just by entering the ISBN on the GoTextbooks website.
- Cons: The processing timeline can be slow. It can take up to 14 days for you to receive payment after its issued.
The process of selling your books to Half Price Books is simple. You’ll visit one of their more than 120 stores and head to the purchase counter where a store employee will examine the books you’re selling. You’ll also need to offer a government-issued ID.
- Pros: Half Price Books will offer cash to those who sell their textbooks at their stores.
- Cons: You can’t sell your textbooks to Half Price Books online. You’ll need to visit a Half Price Books store in person if you want to sell your books to this business.
To sell your books with Knetbooks, you’ll need to postmark your box of books within seven days of receiving a quote. Knetbooks also offers the unique perk of requesting that you get paid via direct deposit. However, book processing can take anywhere from three to five weeks after your books are received by Knetbooks, meaning it could be weeks before you see payment.
- Pros: Knetbooks can pay sellers using direct deposit which can result in faster payments than other methods (such as by check).
- Cons: Sale quotes for textbooks are only good for seven days.
This website is a platform that allows you to sell your textbooks to your peers on campus. Using this website, you can get in touch with students at your college or university looking for the books you’re selling.
- Pros: Student2Student implements an instant cash exchange, as opposed to other sites where it can take several days to weeks to receive payment.
- Cons: You’ll have to meet buyers in person as opposed to the transaction being all online.
ValoreBooks is a service that connects sellers with hundreds of potential buyers. The company offers a large variety of books and provides payment via check or PayPal.
- Pros: This company provides prepaid packaging labels so you won’t need to pay shipping when you send out your books.
- Cons: ValoreBooks has strict standards for books it receives. Books must be in good condition, without excessive writing or highlighting. Books also have to match ISBNs in their database.
Tips for selling your textbooks
How much you get for your books will depend on many factors. Some of these are outside your control, but there are things you can do that could increase the amount you receive. Here are some tips:
Keep them in good shape
Many vendors won’t accept books they don’t deem to be in acceptable condition, so if you want to make extra cash off of your used textbooks, it’s important that you take good care of them. Dust them off and try not to tear or bend the cover and pages. You may also want to avoid highlighting or writing in your textbooks if you plan to sell them.
Research their value
Shop around and try to get multiple quotes for your textbooks. You don’t have to accept your first offer right away. You may be able to receive more money for your books if you reach out to multiple companies and see what they’re willing to offer. While you may not be able to recoup the entire cost of your textbooks, you may get more than you expected if you’re patient.
Be honest about their condition
If you’re going to sell your textbooks online, take good photos of the books and be transparent about the state of your textbooks. Buyers aren’t going to be happy if you state that a textbook is in good condition, but when they receive it, it’s all marked up and the cover is bent or torn. As a result, you may not receive payment.
Sell during peak resell season
Once a newer edition of a textbook comes out, the amount of money you may be able to receive for that book decreases. So, you’ll want to sell that textbook quickly after you’ve finished it in order to capitalize on the highest bid.
Another way you can get the most money for your textbooks is to make sure you sell during peak resell season. This means selling your books at the beginning of the fall semester (typically August) or spring semester (typically January). After all, this will be when most students are looking to purchase books for their upcoming classes.
Alternatives to selling textbooks
The process of selling your textbooks can be a hassle, but that doesn’t mean you want them to continue cluttering up your bookshelf. If you don’t want to sell your textbooks, consider these other options.
Donate your textbooks to the bookstore
Even if they won’t buy back your textbook, your campus bookstore most likely has a donation bin where you can offer up your used books. Typically, in these scenarios, the book store will donate them or recycle them so your books won’t go to waste.
Donate your textbooks to libraries or Goodwill
If there are other organizations you’d rather donate your books to, consider going to libraries, schools or Goodwill to donate your books. These organizations typically accept book donations and may be more than willing to take you up on your offer.
Textbook resale: The bottom line
It’s a good idea to sell back textbooks from the past semester. Just remember that you are not limited to selling them back to the college bookstore. You also can sell them online through reputable sites, like the ones we mentioned above. Or, you can even connect to local buyers with services like Craigslist, Letgo and Facebook Marketplace.
You may also have good luck selling on campus via school bulletins or even just word of mouth. If a class you just took is being offered next semester, think about letting your professor know that you have textbooks for sale; they can direct new students to you.
Whichever method you choose, you can get more money back for your books, giving you the cash you need to buy next semester’s books. And, if you want to save money on books, you can always rent textbooks instead of buying new ones.
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