Affording college can be expensive with rising tuition, room and board, utilities, internet, and streaming services. On top of the typical costs to attend, the College Board survey estimated the cost of college textbooks and supplies for full-time undergraduate students in a four-year university at $1,240 for 2022-2023.
Indeed, college textbooks go up faster than inflation, rising by 1,000% since the 1970s. According to Education Data Initiative, the average price goes up by 12% for each new textbook edition.
Are you stuck with books at the end of the term? Think about selling textbooks at the end of the semester and making extra cash to help your budget.
Reasons to Sell Your Textbooks
Make Extra Cash
Selling books and other things can be a side gig. Some students live stingy, and higher inflation doesn’t help. Raising money by selling their used books helps them get the required books and supplies for the next term. They may find the process simple enough to sell other books at home.
Declutter Your Room
Dorm rooms are notorious for their small spaces, ranging from 125 to 290 square feet, with free space uncommitted to beds and furniture shockingly tiny. Unless you want to keep an essential book for your major, sell the bulk of them. Ridding your room of books you no longer want will help you declutter your small space.
By selling your textbooks to future students taking the course, you’ve done your part to protect the environment with fewer published books.
How Much Can You Get For Your Book?
Several factors determine the book price:
High-demand subjects in printed books command higher prices. Business books from accounting to corporate finance, nursing, and most sciences are in higher demand than other subjects. According to a Direct Text Survey, 62% of college students prefer print textbooks over digital books, despite the growth of E-textbooks in recent years.
Sell your textbooks as soon as you can. The more recent the publication date, the better the price you’ll get. Some buybacks specify the latest date they will accept.
You’ll need to provide the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) to get a quote for the book. A book’s ISBN is its registration code you can find on the jacket or near the bar code. Books pre-1970 do not have ISBNs. Make sure you indicate the correct ISBN.
Assess the book as best you can. Be honest about the condition of the book. Before selling your book, clean it as best your can, using a dustbuster or cloth for dust and possible food particles.
Most book buyback sites specify they are looking for “good” conditions, but they vary in definition. If the original book came with resources such as DVDs, CDs, workbooks, or other items, you’d need to include that material with the book.
Buyback sites are looking for a clean book with minimal highlighting or writing, an intact spine, no torn pages, and minor damage on the covers that constitutes a good condition. Some will accept more blemishes, likely impacting the book’s prices.
Seasonality matters. You should sell your textbooks as soon as you finish final exams in mid-December for the Fall term and mid-May for the Spring semesters, assuming you passed the course!
Many book buyback sites give price comparisons from several parties, providing multiple offers. Most offers come with printed labels so you can ship your book for free.
Related: 14 Best Websites To Get Free Textbooks
23 Best Ways To Sell Your Textbooks
1. College Campus Stores
Your college campus bookstore may be the most convenient place to sell your books. Still, it is not necessarily the best way to sell your used textbooks as they are more motivated to sell the new editions, so they may only accept the latest publications. Don’t expect the best price from them. Also, expect to wait in long lines along with your fellow students.
2. Directly To College Students
You can sell your textbooks directly to future students taking your professors. Let other students know you are likely selling the book as soon as your semester ends through social media and in person. Put flyers in convenient places like dining areas, student unions, dorm buildings, library areas, bathrooms, and other places students congregate.
3. Garage Sales In May
An old-fashioned way to sell unwanted things, including textbooks, is through a garage or tag sales in your neighborhood.
4. Used Bookstores In Your College Town
If you have a list of books, email or visit used bookstores in town and see if they have an interest in any of your books. They may prefer giving you store credit, so you may want to try the following online sites first.
Abebooks partners with TextbookRush, an online campus bookstore, to provide a convenient buyback service. You’ll need to insert the book’s ISBN into their website to receive an estimated price based on condition, edition, and the ISBN when it gets to their warehouse.
They offer free shipping, preferably by FedEx, with a prepaid and trackable shipping label paid for by Textbook Rush. They accept textbooks only in good condition, which must be clean without torn pages but may have writing or highlighting marks.
Its vast customer base makes Amazon a prominent place to sell your textbooks. If you have an Amazon account you participate in its textbook buyback program. Amazon will help you send your books to them for free with a shipping label, but you will pay a 15% referral fee plus a $1.80 closing fee. Alternatively, if you have many books, you can sell them through its Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) program if the textbooks are in good condition.
7. Barnes & Noble
Another good place to sell your textbooks is Barnes & Noble. They will buy back your book if you have at least $10.00 worth of books to sell. Once you provide the ISBN for each book, they will base their price on future demand and the current availability of the book. They send a prepaid label for free shipping if you accept their price quote.
Founded in 1997 by the University of California, Berkeley student Anirvan Chatterjee, Bookfinder.com is among the first price comparison sites to sell your textbooks. They partner with booksellers globally, including the US, Canada, the UK, and Europe, who will provide free shipping upon accepting their offer.
Booksrun.com is an easy and convenient website based on the accolades provided by previous students who sold their textbooks. They won’t accept any teacher, instructor, or professional versions. You’ll receive cash quickly via a check or PayPal within four days of receiving your book. Best of all, their website has helpful hints on how they price your book based on condition, season, and edition.
You may be able to get a 7% higher sale price from Booksrun if you download their app and use the coupon on their website.
Known as a price comparison website, Bookscouter, is an excellent channel to get money for your college textbooks. They have been around since 2007, and work with over 30 competitive vendors, so you may have a chance to get the highest price among multiple offers once you provide your ISBN. Although most vendors will pay for shipping, you need to check your specific offer from them.
A price comparison site for more than fifteen years, don’t mix up Campusbooks.com with your campus bookstore. They search through dozens of buyback sites for you to get the best price for your book. They determine the price based on the book being at least in good condition with minimal highlighting, minor cover damage, no torn pages, and no beer or adverse smells.
You’ll get free shipping and quick cash, check, PayPal, or store credit payments.
Cash4Books deals primarily in college textbooks and has paid more than $10.7 million in checks and PayPal, absorbing their fees. They prefer college textbooks with publication dates of 2019 or newer. They pay FedEx or US Postal Service shipping fees and provide payments on average within 13 days, depending on your location, though they say payments are usually much faster.
Launched in 2005, Chegg, a publicly traded company, is well known for renting textbooks to college students and facilitating the buying back textbooks through independent buyer, GoTextbooks. Provide your ISBN on Chegg’s site, and get instant price quotes for your book. Once you accept the quote, your book will go through a process, and you’ll receive a free shipping label within five business days. You’ll receive payments by check or PayPal, which can take up to 14 days.
Alternatively, you may want to try to go directly to GoTextbooks, and cut out Chegg altogether for a potentially better price.
As one of the largest local, community-oriented websites, you may want to consider selling your textbooks on Craigslist directly to someone. This path may mean researching prices based on the book’s condition on other sites, taking and displaying photos, and posting a description and price you’ll accept. You may have to meet the person to ship the book or deliver the book, potentially in your neighborhood and in a public environment.
You can trade in unwanted items, including college textbooks, to Decluttr. You can scan the book’s bar code and get an instant price quote. To get started, get their free app to scan the bar code. You can ship the books for free if they are at least $5 in value.
You can sell your used college textbooks on the auction site eBay, among the largest e-commerce sites, by researching and auctioning the book at a minimum price or setting a fixed price. Please do some research by comparing your book, its condition, publication date, and future demand. You’ll need to describe and price the book based on its proper shape and take excellent photos.
The buyback site eCampus, brands itself as a marketplace for small and large sellers of books, including textbooks, novels, biographies, nonfiction, and almost anything on a bookshelf. They look for books with intact spines, covers, and all pages on a massive selection of ISBNs sold nationwide.
You’ll get a price quote quickly, free shipping, and payment in various ways, including direct deposit, checks (with a small fee), PayPal, or an in-store credit plus a bonus for the last option. This site may take a little longer (3-5 weeks) than other sites to make payments to you.
18. Facebook Marketplace
There are several ways to use Facebook to sell your used college textbooks. There are a few ways to sell them:
- Go to your college Facebook Group and use their platform to sell books.
- Find a student Facebook page to assess demand for your book
- Use Facebook Marketplace
Launched in 2016, Facebook Marketplace leveraged its vast social media site and has about 800 million active users with all sorts of items sold through the marketplace. Similar to Craigslist, the marketplace appears to provide more trust and safety. On the negative side, those selling used textbooks may get more attention and better prices from specialized book buyback sites.
19. Half Price Books
If you live in Texas, you are in luck and can sell your college textbooks at one of Half Price Books at the 120 locations. They have been around since 1972, and you can walk to their place or visit their website and start selling your books.
They are keen to buy high-demand college textbooks, including business texts, higher sciences, math, and academic history.
You can sell your college textbooks locally on OfferUp by zip code, providing a description of your book’s condition, publication date, and photos. Like Craigslist, you can meet the person or ship the product to their location.
With solid ratings from Trust Pilot and A rating from Better Business Bureau, Sell Back Your Book will pay cash for your book quickly, claiming that you will receive your money within three days of accepting the book’s arrival. You can insert your ISBN on its website or download the bar code on its mobile app.
Student2Student is an online exchange site for students to meet up on campus, making it convenient to locate someone nearby to sell your book or make other arrangements and receive cash payments quickly. Their website will show verified interested buyers cutting out the middle person that sometimes adds costs.
Acquired in 2012 by SimpleTuition, Valore Books is a marketplace for buying and selling books online. You can sell one book or multiple books at a time, get free shipping and receive a check or PayPal payment for your books. Valore appears to be more tolerant about the book’s blemishes and will accept books with minor damage on covers, spines, and pages, like dog ears, and missing supplements that are supposed to come with the textbook. Keep in mind that this damage may lower the price you receive.
Donate Your Books Instead
You may change your heart and decide that you want to get rid of your textbooks because you don’t have the space, but you prefer donating them. Here are a few places that would appreciate used textbooks as long as they are in good condition. Check their respective websites for guidelines for the books they most want.
- Thrift Stores
- Goodwill and Goodwillbooks
- Your University’s library
- Public and school libraries
- Community Jail and Prison Services
It is expensive to attend college when you factor in tuition, rent, food, and other costs. You can make extra money selling your used textbooks and buying the next set of required materials. It is a straightforward process and a good way of removing unwanted items and making space in your room.
If you want to save money and help your budget, consider buying free textbooks legitimately.
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With a passion for investing and personal finance, I began The Cents of Money to help and teach others. My experience as an equity analyst, professor, and mom provide me with unique insights about money and wealth creation and a desire to share with you.