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Sell Used Textbooks Online for More

Updated on February 15, 2013

Sell Used Textbooks for Cash

There are more ways than ever to sell used textbooks for cash!
There are more ways than ever to sell used textbooks for cash! | Source

New Ways to Sell Used Textbooks

It wasn't many years ago that there was basically only one way to sell used textbooks for cash.

After the final exam, a student would bring her used textbook to the college bookstore, which would offer to buy the textbook for perhaps 40% of its list price--assuming the college had plans to use the textbook for a future course. But that was a big assumption. Often, there was no plan to use the textbook again, and the student was lucky to be offered a dollar or two. Many students accepted the dollar since the alternative was to throw the textbook into the trash.

While today's college students can still check with their college's bookstore, they can often get a higher price for their textbook using an Internet-based alternative. The price is often higher because of several reasons, including the lower overhead of these web-based sites, the ability of these sites to connect with students at other colleges that have a need for the textbook and, for some sites, the ability to sell the textbook directly to another college student without the need for a middleman.

Priority in Selling the Textbook: Time or Money?

When selling a used textbook, the first question to ask is whether the priority is to sell the textbook as quickly as possible, or for as much money as possible.

The fastest way to sell a used textbook may still be to bring it to the college's bookstore (or, at many colleges, to one of the privately-run bookstores usually located around the fringe of campus). The bookstore will often offer cash that can be accepted on the spot. However, as discussed above, the price will often be relatively low, especially if that college has no plans to use the textbook again.

To get a higher price, students can now turn to web-based sites to sell used textbooks.

If the priority is to sell the textbook quickly, they can use a "middleman" website which will buy the textbook from the student, with the hope of later reselling it to another customer. These sites are quick since they make an immediate online offer for the textbook. If the student accepts the offer, she mails the textbook to the company running the website (usually via a prepaid mailing service).

Alternatively, if the priority is to sell the textbook for as much money as possible, they can use a "facilitating" website that merely facilitates the sale of the textbook directly to an end user. Sellers can often get higher prices using a facilitating website since the website charges only a small fee to facilitate the transaction (as opposed to middleman websites which buy the textbook at wholesale and accept the risk of possibly not being able to resell the textbook to an end user). However, it usually takes longer to sell the textbook since it won't sell until it's purchased by an end user.

"Middleman" Websites to Sell Used Textbooks

There are over 40 middleman websites that buy used textbooks.

Rather than visiting each of these websites individually to find the highest price being offered for a used textbook, it's easier to visit BookScouter. Simply enter the textbook's ISBN number and click on "Search for the Best Prices". BookScouter will automatically visit over 40 book-buying websites and then present a list of the websites that are interested in that textbook along with the offering prices. The list will include a rating of each website (from one to five stars) and links to customer reviews. Just click on the "Sell Here" link for the website that offers the best combination of price and rating.

Although Amazon is described below as one of the best-known "facilitating" websites for selling used textbooks, it also provides the option of acting as a middleman website. Thus, Amazon is one of the over 40 middleman websites which is included in the websites searched by BookScouter.

One problem with many middleman sites is they reserve the right to adjust the purchase price until after they receive the textbook and have a chance to inspect it. Thus, while a seller may think she knows exactly what price she will receive before deciding which bookseller to use, that price is not final and she may receive significantly less if the bookseller doesn't like the textbook's condition. Thus, these sites tend to work best for used textbooks that are in like new or very good condition.

"Facilitating" Websites to Sell Used Textbooks

eBay and Amazon are the best-known facilitating websites for selling used textbooks.

Selling used textbooks on eBay is similar to selling anything else on eBay. Click the "Sell" tab at the upper edge of the home page, and then identify "Books > Textbooks, Education" as the category. Enter the textbook's ISBN number in the "Tell Us What You're Selling" spot. eBay will provide a photograph of the textbook's cover, and its general information. Select the textbook's condition ("Brand New", "Like New", "Very Good", "Good", "Acceptable") and any description (be honest about any highlighting, tears, missing covers, missing CDROMs, etc.). As with other eBay listings, choose whether to sell the textbook via auction and/or a "Buy It Now" price. Auctions work well if the book is in high demand, especially near the beginning of the Fall or Spring semester. Then select the shipping method, and whether shipping will be paid by the buyer or seller. Offering free shipping (at a higher "Buy It Now" price) is often attractive to shoppers who like free shipping.

To sell used textbooks on Amazon, create a Seller's account. Then, to list a textbook, click on "Inventory" and "Add a Product", and type the ISBN number into the "Find it on Amazon" spot. After Amazon provides a photograph of the textbook, click "Sell Yours" and complete an online form asking for the textbook's condition ("New", "Used - Like New", "Used - Very Good", "Used - Good", "Used - Acceptable") and any notes. Review Amazon's definition of the conditions and, again, be honest about any highlighting, tears, missing covers, missing CDROMs, etc. Input the price, which can be based on the price of the same textbook in similar condition listed on Amazon. Amazon requires the buyer to pay for the shipping, but the Seller selects the shipping options.

Selling on eBay can be advantageous when the demand for the textbook is high, since the auction process often leads to very attractive prices in high-demand situations. On the other hand, selling on Amazon can be advantageous due to the huge number of buyers who use Amazon's website.


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