How to Play the Sell-Used-Textbook Game and Win

Updated on February 25, 2019

The Reality of Buying and Selling Textbooks

The American Dream: Go to college, get good grades, find a good job, and get a house, a family, and maybe a dog. What they don't tell you is, if you're like most American families, not only will you have to take out a massive loan to attend that college, but in large part to pay for four years worth of academic textbooks. I graduated college in 2014 and in my four years at school invested around $2000 in textbooks alone.

Not coming from a wealthy family, $500 a year for textbooks that I would use for one semester and never open again,was asking a lot. At the end of my studies, like many students I went to sell back these textbooks at the campus bookstore. What I found was essentially highway robbery. The business law textbook in brand new condition for which I paid $175 the school offered to buy back for $35. Refusing this possibility, I realized that the campus bookstore as the "only game in town" for selling back my books was not going to work for me.

Why couldn't I get an offer even close to what I had originally paid for? The books were in perfect condition; I had made sure they were kept just as pristine as the day I had bought them. Yet I stood in line, amongst hundreds of my other classmates, waiting to sell back books I never used for a fraction of the cost of what I paid.

Freshman year I abided by this trickery, and played the game to lose just like how they want you to. But in my opinion going to the campus bookstore and hoping for a great deal on selling back your books is hopeless, so here are some of the best ways I’ve found to sell your used textbooks back online:

The Best Places to Sell Back Your Textbooks


I learned about this website from a friend of mine and have used it religiously ever since. Basically it takes a bunch of different textbook buyback sites and puts them all in one place. Bonavendi is a price comparison portal that lets you type in your books ISBN’s and shows you what over 20 different buyback sites are currently offering to buy your book for. You just pick an offer and sell it there, very simple and the vendors pay for the shipping.

I would download their app as well because it allows you to scan the books barcodes with your phone right into your selling cart, which can really speed up the process. If you are dealing with 20 to 30 books manually typing in ISBN’s (the book identification numbers) can be quiet tedious. If you decide not to download the app you can still type in ISBN numbers or book titles on the site, however it obviously takes longer this way.


Bookscouter essentially does the same thing as Bonavendi, without the offering price comparison services for DVD’s, CD’s, and Video Games that Bonavendi does. Bookscouter is great resource to have if your looking to get in depth reviews of the vendors and their policies. Bookscouter is very transparent and allows for a great experience when comparing buyback offers for your books.

Bookscouter also has an app that I would recommend downloading for the simple barcode scanning of your books. However please be aware that the site does not provide a selling cart therefore you must sell each book once at a time and go directly to the vendor after each price query. Nonetheless it is a great website and I would highly recommend using it for selling back textbooks.

3) Amazon Trade-In

Amazon Trade-In is a good resource to use if you are looking to sell back a bunch of things other than just books. Amazon offers a variety of items they will buy back from you ranging from cellphones, laptops, gaming consoles and of course textbooks. If you are a fan of Amazon, you will definitely enjoy Amazon Trade In. It is very intuitive and allows for a very simple navigation and ease of use in their buyback process.

Just simply state the condition with which your book or used item is in with four simple questions, print out a pre-paid shipping label, and send in your stuff to Amazon. Upon receiving and inspecting your stuff amazon provides you with an Amazon voucher for the offer amount they illustrated. Some people prefer cash, however these days if you’re looking to shop you can buy just about anything on Amazon so it basically amounts to the same.

Other Buyback Sites to Sell With

I have had success in the past with Ebay owns the site and it gives decent offers for your used textbooks, especially if you have something that is more rare or sought after. The prices are fair and the customer service is very good if you have any questions or issues with your stuff. If you’re looking to buy textbooks for a good deal, this is also a great place to do so.

Chegg is a great resource for college students to use when it comes to the selling, buying, or leasing of textbooks online. Chegg also offers tutoring courses in a variety of subjects through their online programs. The buyback offers are not the highest for the books, however most of the time they are still fair and provide a variety of other services as well for students looking to make it through their college years.

Things to Be Aware Of When Selling Back Your Books

1) Always check the website's minimum cart value requirements when selling your used textbooks. Often these buyback sites will set a minimum value, for example $15, required for you to get free shipping; otherwise you have to pay for the shipping yourself.

2) Always check the website's policy on minimum item amounts; sometimes these buyback websites require that you sell back a certain number of books in order to be eligible for completing a sale.

3) Always check the condition policy of the website. Sometimes buyback websites will illustrate that they will not buy a textbook from you if it is deemed a certain condition (torn cover, writing on the pages, etc.)

4) Always check the payment time period and payment type. For most buyback websites you can expect payment in the form of PayPal or check within 48 hours of them receiving and inspecting your books.

The Big Question

I know when it comes to selling any of your used stuff, the big question I always ask myself is “Is the time it takes to sell these things worth the money?”

Taking the time to go online and figure out how and where to get the best deal for selling back your books is not something everyone wants to do, especially if you're very busy.

If you want to, your local bookstore or campus bookstore is a perfectly convenient place to unload your collection of books. However, I would recommend utilizing some of the great websites I have listed above and try shipping your textbooks in to a good buyback vendor.

I really hope this article helps some of you. Please feel free to comment below and share some of your textbook selling experiences or any other great websites you feel should be added to the list.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers


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        2 years ago

        Great article, super informative! I tried Bonavendi recently with some old books and dvds I had and it worked out great! Thanks for the info keep up the good work


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