As the semester winds down, we’ll start seeing advertisements for the biannual book buyback. A common complaint is that the pennies—sorry—“dollars” the bookstore gives you for your books does not come close to the amount we spent on the books originally. However, just because the bookstore offers you money for your books doesn’t mean that is the only option out there to get money for your books.
In fact, though I have been in school for several years, I have never used the book buyback. Why? Because I can almost always make back most of the money by selling my books independently, with hardly any time wasted on my part.
Here are a few ways to get rid of your unwanted textbooks for money without using the bookstore.
1. Sell your book to a classmate. This might be pretty obvious; it works best for general classes as well. This is the best way to gain the most amount of money from your book, since you get all of the money, don’t have shipping costs and don’t have to pay commission as you do for online sellers.
2. Sell your book online. Typically, I can buy a book online cheaper than renting it in the bookstore, so I don’t know why more people don’t go online for textbooks. All of the online stores have protection against bad sellers, so there is very little risk. The only time when the books are cheaper in the bookstore is when it has just been released. The biggest drawback here is that the online stores take some commission from sellers, about 5 to 10 percent, for using their service.
Typically, I sell my books on Half.com. They take the least amount of commission and give you the most for shipping. Beyond Half.com, I only have experience with Amazon, who does a good job as well.
A few tips about how to get the most amount of money from your book while selling it quickly.
· Make sure you have the right book. Someone bought a book they thought to be the textbook but was really a workbook. If I listed my book in the wrong category, she would qualify for a refund. As such, the error was her fault and I didn’t have to do anything. Use ISBN numbers to double check it.
· Describe your book. Be honest. Some people like highlighting, so just because your book doesn’t have highlighting doesn’t mean it won’t sell. Some might only need to buy the book for a few pages, so they don’t care that your cover is beat up.
· Setting prices is an art. My general plan is to go low based on your book’s category. But not too low. Half.com only lists the five lowest prices.
· Sell your book in August. I know, that means keeping your books until August, but your book will sell for the most then. I bought a book in August for $25, sold it in December for $7, since I didn’t realize how much the price fluctuates, and then saw it listed for $25 again in August. This also means you should buy your textbooks early rather than later.
· Ship quickly and try to keep your customers happy. One low rating will drop your overall rating quickly as a new seller and people want sellers with high ratings.
· A word of warning about selling your book online: book prices crash when the new edition is released, so waiting until August is sometimes risky. However, you can sometimes check Amazon for a prelisting to see if a new edition will be released soon and keep or sell accordingly.
3. Amazon’s book buyback. Let’s say you bring your book to the bookstore and they say that they don’t take the book anymore. You don’t want to sell your book online because it takes too much work. But your book’s still in pretty good condition. Amazon also offers a book buyback and pays for your shipping to them as well. You ship the book to them with their shipping label on the package; they’ll process and send you Amazon.com credit. You cannot get cash back, so if you don’t use Amazon a lot, this won’t work for you either. Or, you could use that money to buy next semester’s textbook.
One reason why Amazon is worth checking is that sometimes the previous edition of the book is offered with the book buyback. I sold a previous edition book to Amazon for $25 credit. If I could have sold the book online, I would have barely made $5. So, although this is rare, it’s worth checking out.
Hopefully, after this you realize that selling books online isn’t difficult. Why not give it a try this year? Then you won’t be one of those who complain about the bookstore ripping you off when you tried to sell your book to them.