How to Sell Textbooks for Top Dollar (Easiest Way)

by Erin Schollaert

Updated

One of the top things recent graduates will look up is how to sell textbooks once you’re finished with them.

These books are a huge investment in your education, and unlike most easy reading: it’s better to sell them than to let them sit on a shelf.

Whether you’re still in school or recently graduated, selling textbooks should be a simple step to make back some of your investment.

This is everything you need to know to sell your textbooks!

Can I sell my textbooks?

Yes! You can sell your textbooks after you’re finished using them, and for some students it’s an easy way to get money at university without a job.

Although they do lose value the moment you buy them, used textbooks still have a lot of value that can be put towards future purchases.

Some see the possible cons of selling these books, though, so it’s natural to be unsure. 

selling-textbooks-pros-and-cons

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If you need the money and don’t think you’ll have future use for this book, selling it’s a good idea.

Not only does it get rid of clutter, but you also help college students avoid paying full price for their books.

If you’re in the market for new (or new to you) textbooks, you can check out some of these cheapest places to get textbooks.

Tactic for Success

Keeping your textbooks in good condition while you’re using them will help them maintain a lot of their original value! Make sure to use a non-adhesive book cover, and avoid folding, creasing, or staining any part of your book.

How much value do textbooks lose?

One flaw of selling used textbooks is that they lose value the moment you buy them.

The average college textbook can cost hundreds and will continue to lose value as it ages. 

If you purchased your book from your school’s store, it could lose 75% of its value immediately.

buying-textbooks-on-amazon

If PDF books are available for your courses, this is a top way to avoid high costs, especially if you use cheap ways to print PDF books.

A large part of this is because many publishers constantly update their books or rearrange the chapters, so you have to buy a specific edition when you go to class.

This forces more students to buy versions of a book that aren’t valuable outside that semester. 

The average undergraduate spends around $1,200 a year on books, meaning you might only make back around $300 when it’s time to sell them.

That can be a staggering loss for students already working on tight budgets. You don’t have to accept these losses, though!

There are some ways to get more money for your books.

Trend on the Rise

Over 70% of students buy used textbooks instead of brand new ones, so they don’t have to pay full price! If students can’t find their books in used condition, two-thirds will skip buying textbooks entirely because of the cost.

How can I get the most money for my used textbooks?

To get the most money for your textbook, there are a few things to keep in mind: timing, condition, and edition.

Timing

Timing matters most of all. If you try to sell a textbook halfway through a semester, you’re unlikely to have any buyers.

If, instead, you list your book for sale two weeks before another semester starts, you’ll find more buyers.

Condition

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Condition is the second most important. Your book needs to look good, have as little damage or smudging as possible, and feel newer.

Although you can sell a damaged book, people don’t want to pay a lot for something that looks like it’s been through a storm.

You can better protect your book by putting a cover protector on it while you use it, using a backpack, and avoiding setting it down on any surface, you’re unsure about.

Edition

The edition is also important. Some textbooks update editions yearly, which can quickly make your book obsolete.

This means you must try and sell it as soon as possible and list it immediately after you don’t need it anymore.

By timing it well, taking care of your book, and making sure to sell it as soon as you don’t need it: you set yourself up for success.

Tactic for Success

How you advertise your used textbook listing matters! If you’re still in college, or are friends with college-aged people, share your listing on social media to boost how many people see it. People are more likely to buy from someone they know or trust.

Where can I sell my books for the highest price?

The biggest question on many people’s minds is where they can sell their books. Some classics don’t usually fail when it’s time to sell, like eBay, but don’t be afraid to try others on this list!

Best Places to Sell Textbooks:

  • Listing on eBayThe top choice to sell used textbooks, but watch out for high fees. Check out our guide to sell books on eBay.
  • Selling Through ThriftBooks – This massive catalog of used books is a great way to sell digital or physical copies of your textbooks.
  • Connecting on CraigsList – Has a huge customer base, and you can sell locally instead of shipping your books.
  • Selling to Half Price Books – Fantastic if you want to sell your books instantly, but you’ll get the least for them here.
  • Listing on FaceBook Marketplace – This is the best way to connect with local students and give affordable knowledge back to your community.

If you have multiple books or you’re considering setting up a used-book business, eBay is still your best option.

This site lets customers rate you, enables you to sell to anyone in the world, and helps you keep up with the trends in book pricing, so you don’t overprice or underprice what you’re selling.

Regardless of your site, make sure to keep up with your sales. Thank your customers, ship books out instantly, and package them so they’ll travel safely.

Most textbooks can be sent via media mail, which makes shipping extremely affordable for your customers.

Trend on the Rise

The second-hand book market is expected to nearly double in value within the next few years. With a current value of 24 billion, sellers are expected to make a large amount of their investment back.

What textbooks are in high demand?

Some textbooks will instantly sell faster and better than others.

Although condition and edition still matter here, these are books that are generally popular- and students may be able to work around having an older edition of them.

most-wanted-textbooks

Most Wanted Textbooks:

  • Signing Naturally Unit 1-6 (Revised Edition) Sign language has become increasingly popular as a second language in recent years.
  • They Say, I Say (4th Edition) – Debate and logical arguments are vital for many lines of work, and this textbook helps develop those skills.
  • The Human Mosaic (12th Edition) – Geography is a quickly growing area of study, and this book helps break it down into understandable chunks.
  • Emergency Care (13th Edition) – Students studying to become EMTs will find this book incredibly useful.
  • Publication Manual of the APA (7th Edition) – This manual is the industry standard for writers, editors, students, and scholars. 
  • Microeconomics (10th Edition) – Helps students further understand huge economic concepts.

Each of these is the most recent edition as of 2022. It would be best to sell your book as soon as you no longer need it to ensure the edition doesn’t go out of use.

Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Textbooks

Selling your textbooks can leave you open to hundreds of dollars: so it’s important that you make some good choices along the way to set yourself up for success.

Failing to do any of these can cut your profits and complicate future efforts to sell your books. 

Avoid Listing Without Researching

Research your textbooks and their value before listing them! Failing to do so could have you list a book for far less than it’s worth. Follow the listing tips in this article, and make sure to time it right.

Avoid Haggling too Low

Your customers will try to get the lowest price possible, especially since they’re college kids. Don’t let them haggle so low that you lose a lot of money on the book.

Avoid Getting Scammed

When listing your books for sale, avoid any customer who says they want to pay by check or money order.

Although this might sound harmless, there are countless ways people use this to scam sellers.

Avoid Selling Back to the School Shop

Some schools have book stores where students can buy textbooks: avoid selling them back to this store.

They will offer you less money than you can get from any site listed in this article and will resell it for the same price you paid when you bought it from them. Don’t lose money just because this is easier.

Wrapping Up

College is expensive, so it’s a good idea to make sure you can make some of that money back. Sell your textbooks and recover some of your investment!

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About the Author

Photo of author
Erin is a business teacher and mother of three. When she’s not in the classroom or fulfilling her obligations as an A+ hockey and lacrosse mom, she’s working on her latest article.