Book Students Selling Textbooks

The Smart Student’s Guide To Selling Textbooks


Another school year is about to be begin and chances are you still have some last semester’s textbooks kicking around, right? Don’t let them sit around collecting dust – turn those extra books in extra bucks and sell them!

How, you ask? Well, before you get started, ask yourself the following two questions.

Will the textbook be useful for later classes?

You don’t want to sell it and then find out you have to buy the same textbook again. To avoid this, check with the professors of the courses you will be taking or find the syllabi for those courses online. Even if the specific textbook will not be used in another course, you may also want to consider keeping it as a reference.

Is there a new edition for your textbook?

Check the publisher’s website to see if there is a new edition of the textbook coming out soon. You can also try Googling the name of the textbook plus the next edition number to see if it is forthcoming. If there is no new edition, your textbook still has value and there will be demand for it. But if there is a new edition coming out, the value of your textbook has drastically decreased.

Now that you have an idea of if you should sell your textbook and if you can sell it, you are probably wondering where you can sell your textbook.

Here are a couple options:

1) Sell back to the bookstore

Some universities and colleges have their own bookstore, stocked with all the textbooks their students will need. They will usually also offer to buy back books from students — this can take place during specific times of the year (for example, September and January) or throughout the year. You don’t have to have purchased the book originally from the school bookstore. Just remember that some bookstores may have different policies, so make sure you know what they are before you sell your textbooks to them.

2) Sell online

There are a wealth of online resources to sell your textbooks. Your school may have a textbook-specific site, but if you can’t seem to find it, check with your student union. There are also general sites like Kijiji and Craigslist that allow you to reach a wider audience.

Your online ad should be clear and concise. The essential information to include are the name of the textbook, the authors’ names, and the edition number. If you are including workbooks, answer manuals, etc., include their titles, authors’ names, and edition numbers, if applicable. Give a brief description of the condition of the textbook (and supplementary materials), and don’t forget to include a price.

To determine an appropriate price, check out what the other ads for the same textbook quoted. Or check other sites like Amazon to see how they have priced their used copies of the textbook. You can and should expect negotiation on the price, so the price in your ad can be ten or twenty dollars more than what you hope to get for the textbook.

3) Sell to next year’s students

There is a good chance that next year’s class is going to need the same textbooks you used. Head to these classes and see if any of these students are interested in purchasing your used textbooks. But before talking to these students, do your research and find out if there is a new edition coming out. If there is, find out what the changes to the textbook are. If there are only minor changes, you may still be able to sell your textbook for a reasonable price. This is also a great opportunity to get to know other students in your program and make connections!

Lastly, purchasing textbooks is not as easy as noting down the titles and grabbing the first copy of each. Because of their high prices, you want to save as much as you can wherever you can. Now that you know what options are available, assess your courses. For core courses, you may want to buy new or used copies with no annotations. For elective courses, used textbooks and e-textbooks can be considered.

If you can sell your textbook, you should! They are expensive and they don’t hold onto their value over time, as new editions are regularly published. Even if the difference between two editions are small, potential buyers will always want to purchase the newest edition.

All of this may seem like a lot of work for just a little savings, but every dollar counts when you’re a student!

Have you sold your old textbooks before? What was your experience like? Tell us in the comments!