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5 secrets to selling used textbooks for cash

selling used textbooks

With the new school year around the corner, now is a great time to look at selling used textbooks from your last college semester. If you’re done using them, now’s your chance to make some cash that could go toward tuition, personal expenses, or even new books for the upcoming year.

Why selling used textbooks makes sense

Those books likely weren’t cheap to buy in the first place. In fact, the cost of class books has increased at 4 times the rate of inflation over the last decade!

That’s a hard hit for a student who’s on a budget like I was. Even if you bought used books to begin with, it’s still an expense. And while you might be able to write the purchase off on your tax return, depending on where you live, you don’t get that money back until several months later and times can get lean before then.

Now that your semester is over, if you don’t think you’ll open up the pages again and you want a bit of money back from that initial buy, why not try selling used manuals or other specialized reading readings?

It’s easier than you might think

Selling used textbooks doesn’t have to be a big chore either. If you’re groaning thinking about the work you’d have to do to find a buyer for the class books, I totally get that.

It’s summer right now and you’re enjoying the time away from school. But putting in a bit of effort now could go toward next month’s rent, another bill, or just give you some extra spending money.

Not only that but you could also be helping make things easier financially for another student who is facing outrageous book prices. If they can get their required readings at a lower rate than brand new, well that’s a win for them. And you’ll get a bit more money in the process. Win-win.

Besides, the books would probably just sit around your room anyways, right? That’s not a great use of space, especially if you’re in a small dorm room or apartment.

So, now that you’re pumped to sell those gently-used books at home, how exactly do you do it? Keep reading for where to find buyers and get the most out of the sale (ahem, get more $$).

1. Try selling used textbooks for cash online

There are many websites online where you can sell your used textbooks for cash. The process is typically simple, and most reputable sites will offer free shipping for your books too.

There’s still a lot to be said for using paper textbooks, by the way. Besides that satisfying feeling of turning the physical page that you won’t get when you use online only.

See if the book comes with an access code for online materials. Sometimes the cheapest deal is to buy a used textbook, then purchase an access code separately.

To get an idea of how much your book is worth on a specific website, enter the ISBN number of the book you are looking to sell or its title. You’ll then get a quote.

Depending on the company you use to sell your books to, you may be able to receive:

  • Money
  • A gift card
  • PayPal credit

If you get a quote for the book you want to sell and are happy with that amount, the site will usually detail how the process works right there and then. A reputable site will help you by creating a free shipping label for mailing your books.

2. Use college buyback programs

Many colleges offer book buyback programs for their students. If you want to get rid of your schoolbooks quickly and hassle-free, that’s usually the best way to do it.

A lot of schools even hold buyback events at the end of a semester. A benefit of this option is not having to worry about shipping your books. Save time and money (if shipping costs aren’t covered).

3. Local bookstores are another option

If you’re not happy with the quote you get online or at your college buyback event, don’t give up. Consider visiting a local bookstore instead to see if you can get a better offer for the reading materials.

Even if the bookstore is not affiliated with your college, they may still have interest in buying and selling used textbooks like yours.

4. Check social media too

Another great option to consider when looking to sell your used college books is searching online paperbacks and hardcovers might not be one you’ve considered yet. Social media!

For example, many colleges have Facebook groups where students can trade, buy, or sell their college textbooks to each other. Oftentimes, this is the best way to find a buyer for your books.

5. Selling used textbooks? Ask friends if they want them

If you have a lot of friends going to the same college, there’s a good chance that some of them may be taking some classes that use the same books you are trying to sell. Thus, it makes sense to check with your friends to see if they need any of the books.

It could be the easiest option! No shipping is needed and you can just give the book when you see them next in exchange for a few bucks. Plus, your friend will appreciate they’re getting a deal.

Bonus tip!

Shhhh… Here’s another secret for getting more money from your schoolbooks. Keep the pages and binding in good condition to be able to sell them for a higher figure later.

That’s because books in good condition earn more money. It’s that simple.

How to keep your textbooks in good condition

Here are some easy ways to make sure that you’re books stay in good condition:

Use sticky notes instead of marking up pages

While using books during the semester, a lot of students use highlighters and pens to mark important areas of text. I know I did that!

But the problem is that marking the inside of your books makes them hard to resell later. Instead, use sticky notes on pages of importance. Then simply remove those papers when the course is done.

Keep the binding in good shape

The book’s binding is important for maintaining the quality of the book. A good tip for keeping the binding intact is by using some painter’s tape along the edges.

This tape helps to protect the book edges from scuffs and damage, such as when they’re in your backpack. Then when it’s time to remove the tape for selling used textbooks, it’s a cinch to take off the tape. No one will know it was even there.

Digitize important pages

For some classes, you may find yourself visiting specific pages over and over again. Unfortunately, this activity can lead to major wear and tear in your book, especially on those specific pages.

To avoid this situation, use a phone scanning app to digitize pages you visit in your books frequently. It’s also an easy way to refer to those pages as you likely have your phone in your pocket a lot of the time.

Final words on selling used textbooks

Paying for the educational resources and using them for only one semester is a waste. Not only can you earn a little bit of money back for selling your books, but you will also be offering other students the opportunity to purchase used textbooks at more affordable rates.

It can be a win-win situation for both parties. If you want to maximize your earning potential when you sell your college books, follow the above tips. When your books are in good condition, you will get more in return, which is great when you’re a student on a budget.

In exchange for selling your books, you can receive cash, gift cards or store credit to use on the purchase of your next textbook or something else.

So now’s an opportunity to make a bit of cash by offering some books for sale to other students. It’s a green inititiative too, really, as you’ll be making the most of an item that’s already been made, thereby extending its lifespan.

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