Dr. Penny Pincher founded the popular personal finance blog Penny Pincher Journal in 2013 and has published two books about saving money.
Everything You Need to Know About Selling Textbooks Online
When I was in college, the college bookstore would buy back your textbooks at the end of the semester. You could buy a used textbook from the bookstore at the beginning of the semester for $100, and at the end of the semester, the bookstore would offer $25 to buy back your textbook.
But times have changed. Students have a lot more options at the end of the semester. There are online book buyback sites that allow you to get the best price for your textbook by selling online. How can textbook resellers stay afloat?
The trick is knowing how to get the best price for your textbooks online.
How Much Can You Make Selling Textbooks Online?
There are some useful sites available that allow you to describe your textbook and run a search from multiple booksellers to find the best price for your textbook. These sites will present several options to sell your textbook and the price that you can get.
Bookscouter.com allows you to enter the ISBN from your book and search for buyback offers. The ISBN is a 10-digit number that can be found on the title page of textbooks. The results page shows a listing of textbook buyback companies and the price that they will offer for your textbook.
BigWords.com also provides the capability to search multiple booksellers to find the best price offer to sell textbooks online.
Other Sites to Sell Textbooks Online
Searching for textbook buyback prices on BookScouter or BigWords is a good first step. I also like to check prices from a few of my favorite textbook buyers myself:
amazon.com: I have made hundreds of dollars selling used books online on amazon.com. Lately, amazon offers amazon gift certificates for used textbooks. You can print a mailing label from amazon, with free shipping to send your textbook to amazon.
half.com: Half.com is owned by eBay. The textbook price offers are competitive and it is worth checking out half.com to sell textbooks online.
textbookrush.com: TextbookRush is "your online campus bookstore" and often has good prices for used textbooks.
How Much Work Is It?
It is easy to check for price offers for your used textbook: simply enter the book's ISBN number and its condition into any of the websites I have mentioned and find out how much you can get for your used textbook. That is the easy part.
The work comes in packing your textbook and shipping it. If you don't have packing materials, you may need to go to the store and buy some craft paper to wrap your book and perhaps bubble wrap to protect your book during shipping. If you are only selling a single book, you could spend a few dollars on packaging material. You'll need packing tape as well to securely tape your package. Some sites offer mailing labels you can print out with free shipping, and others require you to purchase shipping. Either way, you'll need to drive to the Post Office and drop off the package.
I would estimate about 10 minutes to package the book and about 10 minutes to drive to the Post Office to drop off the book. Of course, these time estimates vary depending on how good you are at packing and how far you are from the Post Office.
- Craft paper: Craft paper is the material in brown paper shopping bags and can be purchased on rolls for packaging. Wrap the book to protect it during shipping. Craft paper also provides a surface to apply the mailing label.
- Bubble wrap: Depending on the condition of the book, you may want to wrap it in bubble wrap to protect the cover. You may also use 2 layers of craft paper.
- Packing tape: You'll need packing tape to seal up your package and apply the mailing label.
Can You Sell Textbooks Locally?
Since it does take time and money to pack up your book and ship it if you sell textbooks online, it is worth checking out local options for selling textbooks. If you have a college bookstore in town during book buyback season, you can easily see how much they will offer.
If you don't want to take your book to the bookstore, you can call them up and give them the ISBN number over the phone. Compare the offer from the local bookstore with how much you could get by selling your textbook online. If the offer is similar, you might want to get instant cash for your textbook without the hassle of shipping it.
Another option for local selling is to list your textbook on craigslist. Your research into textbook prices will allow you to set a fair price. If you sell on craigslist, the buyer can pick the book up from you at a convenient location with no shipping required, and you'll get instant cash.
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.
© 2013 Dr Penny Pincher
Dr Penny Pincher (author) from Iowa, USA on November 13, 2014:
Ron, unfortunately older textbooks that are no longer used in courses have very low resale value. You could check prices, but I think you'll be disappointed...
Ronald E Franklin from Mechanicsburg, PA on November 13, 2014:
My problem is that I'm many years out of college. I kept a lot of textbooks (and other books) that I'd like to get rid of now, but none of them are probably eligible for any buy-back. So, I'm still trying to figure out whether there's a way to sell books that still have good info, but for which there no longer is any mass market.
Dr Penny Pincher (author) from Iowa, USA on December 30, 2013:
kidscrafts, good point about electronic versions of books starting to replace paper books. Electronic textbooks would certainly change the equation for selling used textbooks... It seems like printed textbooks are still popular now, but in 10 years, maybe students will use e-books on e-readers instead of traditional textbooks. Thanks for visiting!
kidscrafts from Ottawa, Canada on December 30, 2013:
Very interesting! It's true that things have changed and it's still changing all the time with the fast evolution of technology! I must say that I still prefer a paper version of a book but starting to adjust to the tablet.... and it makes more sense especially when travelling!