I hate to really age myself, but when I was in college we only had one place to try to sell our textbooks – the same exact store we bought it from in the first place. And that store, of course, was the school bookstore. Yes, I was in college before the internet was as widespread as it is now, and I didn’t even send my first email until the second half of my senior year. And it was only to the guy sitting across from me in the computer lab! But let’s get back to the textbooks. Back then, the bookstore bought and sold all the books we would need for the year, and you were lucky if you got back any of your money at the end of class. The internet has changed that game, though, and now there are tons of options for both saving money on purchasing your books as well as selling them to other students looking for a deal on a used textbook.
When my (then) wife was back in school as an adult, we spent a while trying to find the best places to both buy and sell her textbooks at the end of the semesters. What we found was that most of the time, Amazon.com was the best place to sell the books and Half.com was the best place to buy them. I believe Amazon was best for buying because they have so many different sellers trying to compete for your money, unlike individual or independent websites who are only in competition with themselves. To give you an example, I picked a random textbook and searched for it on Amazon, just to compare prices. This is what I found:
Book title – Biology: Concepts and Connections with Mybiology (Hardcover)
Amazon new price: $113.65 with free shipping
Lowest non-Amazon new price: $79.99 +$3.99 shipping
Lowest used price: $39 + $3.99 shipping
Highest used price: $289.00+ $3.99 shipping
That is an incredibly wide range of prices, wouldn’t you agree? But on one single website, Amazon, you can see just how different the pricing can be. And by using these prices, you can determine what to set the price of your book at in order to sell it quickly. Now, just because there are this many choices doesn’t mean that they necessarily have the best prices for buying and selling, but it can give you some base numbers to start with. A few other sites you may want to check out include:
Really, and I have heard this from current college students too, the worst thing you can do is to use your school bookstore to buy and/or sell your college textbooks. They charge the most for books and will pay the least upon buyback. Definitely go the online route when you are buying or selling your books, to be sure you save money and also get the most money back. Of course, and just to throw another wrench into your research, you could always rent your textbooks from a company like Chegg. You could see how much your books would cost to buy, see what you could get back for them, and then see how much it would cost to just rent it instead. Do whatever costs you the least amount of your much-needed college cash fund!
Photo by Flickr user Plutor