5 Insider Secrets to Selling College Textbooks for Top Dollar

selling college textbooks

In 2019, it was estimated that purchasing college textbooks cost students an average of $1240 to $1440 each semester. When you’re already paying for tuition and housing, that’s no small sum of money.

One option students can consider is selling college textbooks after they’ve finished using them. The question is, can you make most or all of your money back? If so, how?

You may know by now that we love sharing tips for college students! Today, we’re going to share tips for selling textbooks. 

Read on for five tips to make more money reselling textbooks this year.

1. Maintain Your Textbooks to Sell Them “Like New”

When you’re selling used textbooks, they will typically fall into a few different categories. These categories tend to range from “fair condition” to “like new.” When used textbook resellers can sell used textbooks under the “like new” category, they can charge more–which means that they’ll pay you more.

To keep your textbooks in “like new” condition, you will need to maintain them. That means protecting them from tears and water damage and making sure that the cover doesn’t get too beat up. It also means that you’ll want to take notes elsewhere.

Most used textbook resellers will accept books that have lines that are underlined or highlighted. However, they will usually knock down their offer in these cases. If you’ve taken physical notes in your textbook, they may not take them at all.

The best thing to do is to take notes on your computer or in a notebook. Leaving the pages pristine (meaning no underlining or highlighting, either) will help you maintain that “like new” condition.

2. Shop Your Options For Selling College Textbooks

Take your time when figuring out where to sell textbooks. There are tons of resellers that will accept new textbooks, including online sellers and even second-hand bookstores in your community. However, if you want to get top dollar for your college textbooks, you’ll want to shop around before accepting an offer.

Start by checking in with the seller you purchased your textbooks from in the first place. If they have a used book option, they likely buy back the books that they’ve sold. 

Websites like BookScouter are also useful in this process. BookScouter functions as a database for used booksellers. All you have to do is type in the ISBN number and BookScouter will generate a price comparison chart to help you find the reseller who is willing to offer the most money for your books. 

3. Act Fast When Reselling Textbooks

There are a lot of reasons that you won’t usually get 100% of your money back when you’re selling college textbooks. One is, of course, that your books are no longer new once you sell them back. People won’t pay retail prices for a used textbook, so resellers can’t offer you retail prices when buying them. 

However, there’s another reason that not all college students are aware of. Textbooks can go out of commission at a surprisingly fast rate.

Most professors want students to purchase the latest edition of a textbook. New editions include the most updated information and resources, so this does make sense. However, it also puts a burden on college students who are hoping to make money off of their used textbooks.

The vast majority of textbook publishers are putting out a new edition of their textbooks about three to four times per decade. This means that textbooks, even the latest editions, don’t maintain their value for long because demand will drop almost entirely when a new edition is released. 

What does that mean for you? It means that as soon as you’re done with a textbook, it’s time to start shopping your options for selling college textbooks. Don’t wait until you’ve graduated to try to sell everything, or a large percentage of your books will have lost their value. 

4. Talk to People In Your Program

At the end of the day, companies that will buy back used college textbooks need to turn a profit. That means that they can only offer you a fraction of what they’ll make off of your textbooks, which is already a fraction of what you paid.

There are ways to cut out the middleman, so to speak. Some textbooks are used quite a bit in certain programs. If you have college textbooks that you know students in your program will need next semester, talk to those students, directly. See if they’re interested in buying your well-maintained textbooks for about 1/2-3/4ths the retail price. 

5. Sell College Textbooks at the Right Time of Year

The demand for used college textbooks doesn’t correlate to the latest editions, alone. The demand also correlates to the time of year. There are three specific times a year that students are in the market for college textbooks and you’ll want to start selling yours in time to meet this demand.

Most students are in the market for textbooks either right before or right at the beginning of a new semester. This includes August and September for the fall semester, December and January for the spring semester, and May for summer classes. You may find that reselling textbooks is easier (and more lucrative) when you try to sell them in these high-demand windows. 

Looking For a Better Option? Try Renting Your Textbooks

The cost of college textbooks is on the rise. Selling college textbooks as soon as you’re done with them is a great way to make some of your money back. However, this isn’t always a guarantee and you may get short-changed in the end.

Is there a better option to spend less money on college textbooks? In almost every case, you are better off renting your college textbooks, rather than buying them. Browse our rental textbooks and get what you need for the upcoming semester at a fraction of the price. 

The Economics of Buying vs Renting College Textbooks: Which Is More Financially Savvy?

renting college textbooks

It’s no secret that going to college can come with some serious expenses. In fact, the cost of getting a college education has increased by about 25% on average in the past ten years, alone. 

What does this mean for most college students? It means that attending college comes with a huge financial burden, and cutting costs wherever possible is crucial. 

At Textbook Rentals, we’re always looking for ways to share money-saving tips with college students. We’ve mentioned in the past that renting college textbooks can help you save some serious dough. Now, we’re going to break down the factors that make renting cheaper than buying college textbooks. 

Read on to find out more about the economics of buying vs renting college textbooks. 

How Much Does Buying College Textbooks Cost?

If you haven’t started college yet and buying college textbooks is new to you, you’re probably wondering, “How much can these books really cost?” The answer can vary from program to program, but for many students, the cost of buying college textbooks can be shocking.

If you’re lucky, your educational program will rely largely on non-academic texts. For example, an English curriculum often requires students to read a large number of novels and texts that are popularly available. These tend to run at a lower price, ranging from $10-$20 apiece.

However, traditional textbooks that are produced by academic publishers tend to go for about $100-$200 apiece. In fact, the cost of college textbooks has risen four times faster than the general rate of inflation. Since many programs rely on traditional college textbooks, some students may find themselves paying over $1000 per semester to buy new textbooks. 

The Benefits of Renting College Textbooks

Fortunately, there is another way to access almost all of the college textbooks you need without spending several thousand dollars throughout your college education. Renting college textbooks is almost always the better financial option for students in all programs. Let’s take a closer look at the financial benefits of renting textbooks rather than buying them.

Access the Information You Need at a Fraction of the Cost

Most of the textbooks you’ll ever need can be rented and you’ll find that rental prices come at a fraction of the cost. Let’s look at a few examples.

Currently, the latest edition of the PPI FE Civil Review is selling for $147 when purchased new. Buying a used copy may bring that price down to about $80. A 90-day rental of this same textbook costs as little as $26, which gives students a savings of 88%.

The LSAT Trainer offers us another glimpse at how much less it can cost to rent textbooks. This book currently costs $91 when purchased new, while a 90-day rental can cost as little as $15. That’s a savings of 82%.

Don’t Lose Money on Soon-to-Be-Outdated Editions

You may be thinking, “What if I need a specific textbook for more than one semester?” First, it’s worth mentioning that many textbooks can be rented for two semesters or longer.

Second, let’s talk about editions of commonly used textbooks. Professors often want students to purchase the latest edition of a textbook in order to have access to the most updated information. New editions tend to come out at a rate of three to four times per decade.

Chances are, you’ll need to update certain textbooks at least once during your college education. That means that the $100 book you bought last semester may not do you any good next semester, even if it’s technically still the same book. Renting makes it easier to get the newest edition without losing a few hundred dollars.

Renting Saves More Than Reselling Textbooks

One way to try to lower the financial burden of purchasing textbooks is to resell the ones you no longer need. However, this won’t always make as big of an impact as you might expect.

As we mentioned earlier, textbooks tend to become obsolete after a few years of use. Once a new edition comes out, your older editions aren’t in high demand anymore. 

Plus, textbook resellers are already offering used books at a discount and they need to turn a profit. That means that whatever you receive for your college textbooks will be, well, a fraction of a discount. In fact, don’t be surprised if you’re offered about $15 for a book you spent $100 on. 

Reselling college textbooks is a bit of a gamble. When you rent, you can see your guaranteed savings upfront and make an informed decision. This is going to be a better financial decision more often than not. 

Is Buying vs Renting College Textbooks Ever the Right Call?

Are there times when buying is a better option? It can be on occasion, particularly if you don’t mind buying used copies of a textbook. Some college textbooks are available used at a price that is comparable to current rental rates.

Some students also anticipate that ebook versions of their textbooks will come with a lower price tag. Surprisingly, this is often not the case. 

How can you be sure that you’re making the right choice about each and every one of your textbooks? Our price comparison tool can help. 

Learn How to Rent Textbooks With Our Price Comparison Tools

Renting college textbooks is almost always the right choice. However, there are times when the purchase price isn’t that far off from the rental price. Plus, rental prices tend to fluctuate between vendors which means the first rental you find may not be the best one for your budget.

That’s where Textbook Rentals comes in handy. Check out our price comparison tool and find the best deals on just about every textbook you might need this semester. Search by ISBN, title, author, or subject to compare prices and save money in the face of rising college textbook costs.