How to Sell Back Your Textbooks

May 12, 2014

This past semester I was required to purchase 31 books for my classes  - THIRTY-ONE BOOKS that I will never use or read again. I, like any other college student, would much prefer cash in my pockets to books on my shelves, but where can you go to get the most money in the shortest amount of time? A quick Google search will provide you with no less than twenty places to sell your books back.  But some are better than others.

Here are my favorites:

The Campus Bookstore
Any seasoned college student will tell you that the bookstore is a scam; however, if you’re looking for money back without the hassle of online sales, you can get the best bang-for-your-buck if you sell your books right before or during finals week.

What the campus bookstore will pay for your books is wholly dependent on the demand of that book; they won’t know what the demand really is until enrollment the following semester, so they bid high and take everything at the end of the semester. Remember: every student on campus thinks to sell their books after they take the final exam, so get in a few days or the week before to get the most money back, which is still probably half of what you paid for it. Swallow the pain.

Craigslist
The ultimate online yard sale. First, check the campus website and see the price of a used book. Depending on the condition of your book, lower the price at least 10%. When creating a post, put the book title and school in your post title. In the body, include the full title/author/edition, course number, a brief description, and the ISBN number. Also include “key words” like the acronym of your school name and common misspellings, in case someone searches differently or incorrectly – then you catch them no matter what.

Example:
Post Title: MSU Denver Art and Craft of Writing
Body: Creative Writing Four Genres in Brief, Starkey
MSU Denver, Art and Craft of Writing ENG 2500
Full book, excellent condition
ISBN:9780312468668
Key words: college, Metro State, MSCD

Remember when posting online that it’s all about the timing. If you want to sell your Christmas tree fast and for a good price, you post it around Thanksgiving, not in June. Post your books two to three weeks before the semester starts and refresh them each Monday so they appear at the top of the list (most people are online shopping during work hours, so refreshing on a weekday around 10AM is ideal).

Half.com
Basically the college textbook section of ebay; you have to have an ebay login to use this AND they want credit card information to set up the account for Seller Fees. Believe it or not, this may still earn you more than selling back to the campus bookstore because you’re posting your book to the online world to sell. Start by entering the ISBN number, the condition and description in the well prompted areas. Easy peasy. The sale works like any other online transaction, so you are responsible for setting shipping charges. Do yourself a favor and hop onto www.usps.com and look up the cost of a flat-rate shipment in your area.

Amazon.com
The best place to buy; my least favorite place to sell. Amazon is amazing for a lot of things, but they sell cheap because they buy cheap. At least it’s easy: plug in the ISBN number and Amazon will give you the price they’re willing to pay for your book. I promise it will be low; possibly lower than the campus bookstore. But, if you accept, they send you payment in the form of an Amazon gift card and pay for you to ship it to them, so that keeps it simple.