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How to buy cheap textbooks and sell your old college textbooks

Updated on September 17, 2009

How many old and used textbooks do you have lying around in boxes

There's a small fortune just sitting there in your old textbooks from your college days

I remember the days of standing in the hot sun outside the university campus waiting in a queue that seemed like it was going to consume the entire year before I had even started to learn anything.

My folks had shot me down in flames when I mentioned what the textbooks would cost on top the astronomical costs already funded to yours truly for the tuition fees and the last thing I remeber them saying before I dragged my a** off to the college to stand in line for some old and used textbooks was, " You better believe that if you want to stay in college for another year, you better find a way to get those textbooks for cheaper or else thats it I'm afraid"

It got me thinking a bout where old used and tired textbooks go to die. So thats how I was introduced to the world of secondhand college textbooks.

I'm not going to go into any great details about the kind of opportunity that is available for any aspiring business person to wise up and get out there and start their own thriving business to sell used textbooks, but I'm going to try and shed some light on this practice.

So how did i buy the old textbooks I needed

It was definitely the most mundane and irritable of things that I could think to do with what was left of my college holidays, but I knew if I didnt find a solution to my dilemna, I was out of there ,tuition paid or not.

After speaking to a couple of the seniors around the campus, I realised that it was regular practice for the second and third year graduates to set up shop around the capus the day or a few days before college starts, and start to sell their previous years reading and studying materials.It was like a sell out firesale.Every thing must go.

A bit of informal bidding and some sweat,tears and a few elbows later, i had pretty much secured a good half of the prescribed reading materials that I needed. I must admit I was a few bucks short of my party fund, but for a good cause as I would have in serious jeapardy of being a non starter if I hadn't got some of my textbooks.

Go and empty those old boxes in your garage

So there I was with about 50% of what was needed to start the year. Then what. Do I run around the neighborhood asking and knocking on doors to see who had recently graduated college and then hope that even if I did find a few seniors, they had enrolled for the same gruate degree as I.

I must at this point say that I'm sure a good few of you have by now considered how much gold there is just being eaten by the local fishmoth viariation in some form of storage container in your home.

Sell textbooks.Its a lost art in negotiation tactics if you ask me.

So with only a few days left and knowing that you could buy used textbooks, I set out to find the rest online

So I started scouring the internet for used textbooks to sell or buy should I say.May still come back to the idea of going to buy all the previous years textbooks and starting a little store close to the university or even buy a camper van and kit it out with shelving and a sign that says "Used and second hand textbooks - we buy and sell used textbooks".

However, it appeared that the online textbooks were going to take a few days to be couriered to where we lived.So be sure you know what you're getting into if you find the one you need somewhere on the internet. Needless to say I managed to start the semester with 90% of the textbooks I needed and managed to find a few on the intenet that were just a little to far away to arrive on time, but arrived nevertheless in the second week and the parentals were off my back and had secured their budget to fight another day.

The Moral of the story

On this adventure and armwrestling expedition to beat the recessionary hurdles placed before me, I had found a solution.

I now knew that just before or even during the year, I had to establish contact via the notice boards and intranet on campus with some seniors or graduates of the same degree in order to secure my spot in the latest of handmedowns called used and second hand textbooks. So spare a thought for those less than fortunate few who are dire need of reasonably priced reading materials for their studies and go and dig out your old courseware and offer it by free ads or community college noticeboards as you can't understand the joy you will implore on a student when you save his drinks and party fund from the abyss.


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    • adrienne2 profile image

      Adrienne F Manson 

      7 years ago from Atlanta

      Great hub! Hadn't really thought of selling textbooks to the second and third year students. I usually practice was selling on ebay, thank you for sharing the info!

    • Marketing Simply profile image

      Marketing Simply 

      8 years ago from North Texas

      Nothing more killer than the textbooks. I struggled at getting text books every semester, just because of the price! I remember I even had to take out a short term loan one semester! Fortunately, I found quite a few ways to combat costs. This lens is also worth sharing because it provides some more really good ideas for cutting costs:

      Check it out!

    • Dale Nelson profile imageAUTHOR

      Dale Nelson 

      9 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks Mike for the great insight.

    • Mike Lickteig profile image

      Mike Lickteig 

      9 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      I applaud your work ethic in selling old textbooks. Frequently it is a case of "let the buyer beware" when purchasing books from the Internet or any source not linked directly to a college instructor. So often these days, profs require online access cards, a CD or DVD with the book, or other ancillary materials that make it difficult to simply sell a book anymore. And, while it might still be profitable for the seller to look through their garage for old books to sell, the buyer should realize the life of a college textbook is now approximately two years before it goes to a new edition.

      I am not intending to cast a gloomy shadow on your post, however--there are many good books out there to be sold to others in exactly the way you describe, and once again I applaud your work ethic in moving them when you didn't need them any more. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.


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