Selling Back Really Old Textbooks Online

In the process of trying to minimize junk, I sold off some pretty old textbooks this week. It’s been over ten years since I first bought any of these books, and the last time I used them was probably about 7 years ago. I had saved them initially for the qualifying exams that PhD students must take early on in graduate school, and then later thought I might go back to school or use them as references at work. They also looked nice on my bookshelf and made me feel smart. ;)

I was about to throw them out since I figured they’d be five editions behind by now and wouldn’t be worth anything, but a quick search ended getting me about $10 per book.

Compare Offer Prices
After looking around, the easiest place to start seemed to be the price comparison engine at BigWords.com. You simply enter all the ISBN numbers at once to your virtual “bookbag”, and then click “Start Price Comparison”. The site then looks up the price offered by buyback sites like TextbooksRus, SellBackYourBook.com, Bookstores.com, Cash4Books.net, FirstClassBooks, Valore Books, and eCampus.

They also look up current lowest asking prices at sites where you can sell it yourself, like TextbookX Marketplace, Amazon.com, Half.com, and TextbooksRus. In some cases like the one below, a buyback site actually offered more than these middlemen before their commissions.

Another option I considered was to drive to the nearest college campus bookstore and run the books through each of their databases, but I decided it wasn’t worth the time and gas for me. This would obviously be much easier for current students.

Book Buyback Online
I just wanted to get rid of them in bulk and didn’t feel like maximizing my price for something that might never sell, so I just went with the highest offers from each of the buyback sites. In some cases, I had to group purchases because some sites had a minimum purchase amount (i.e. they won’t buy less than $15 of books from you).

All the sites had a similar process, and were very simple to deal with. You add the books you want to sell, and then print out a packing slip and prepaid mailing label. Most pay for USPS media mail, although some offer FedEx or other faster service. I just had to drop them off at the post office since they weighed more than a pound. Once they receive and process the books, they then cut you a check (some offer bank direct deposit or PayPal). I haven’t received my checks yet, but the sites listed appear to be reputable.

Let me know if you know of a better way to offload your unwanted old textbooks.

Comments

  1. I recently sold all of my books back. I used Amazon. I was relatively happy with it. It’s true Amazon takes a large cut. However you can make a dollar or two on shipping if you go media mail. The nice thing is that there is no cost to list an item. So some of them sold within a day, others sold months later. You do need to look to see what others are offering though…if one of the big names is offering it for 99 cents since their expenses are lower, than amazon is a nonoption. Some will also lower their prices to beat yours.
    My lack of feedback didn’t seem to hurt me much (and none of my 10 buyers or so ever gave me feedback good or bad). One negative was that I had no idea when my books would sell, so I could have to go the post office at any point.
    Craigslist (with buyer using paypal) is an option too. You can even ship nonlocal. I sold a couple that way for maximum profit. I would not do that as a buyer, but no qualms as a seller since I get the money first.

  2. Only use paypal for accepting payment if you ship an item with a tracking number. Paypal requires a tracking number from the seller if the buyer files a claim and will side with the buyer if there is none.

  3. I donated mine to the Public LIbrary and took a charitable contribution deduction on my taxes.

  4. I use Amazon as well. It really reinforces the notion of old-fashioned capitalist competition (which I sometimes note in my econ classes). I’ve found that if your book is overpriced by $0.12 that it can sit for weeks without selling. Drop the price 12 cents, and it’ll be gone in a couple of days.

    As a rule, I won’t ever underbid the lowest priced book in a category. It just encourages a bidding war and we both lose; I’ve seen that more than one time. I match prices instead. (That puts a different perspective on the fact that all the gas stations in town have the same price…. It doesn’t have to be collusion.)

    Don

  5. Wow! That’s awesome. I’ve got some old textbooks at home I thought weren’t worth anything. I think I’m going to give this a shot!

  6. Online is definitely the way to go, even for current students. When I was a student not too long ago, I could get much more money online for them. My campus bookstore would only give you, say, $3, for a book that originally cost $50. From what I remember, their prices depended a lot on if any professors were going to be using that same book in the future. A lot of students wanted to just get rid of books quickly for pocket money so the campus bookstore took advantage of this. I also found that buying books online was a lot cheaper than the bookstore.

  7. I’m too sentimental – I kept all my text books. Have most of them in my office now, and actually them here and there (mainly finance, accounting, …)

  8. Half.com has allowed me to basically reuse the same lump sum of money by buying and selling all my textbooks through the site during college. I’ve used it for the past 5 years. BigWords is nice but I tend to find Half has the best prices.

  9. Jeremy Olexa says:

    Thanks for this notice, can you please drop a note when you get the payback. :)

  10. Great article, but one word of advice… I’d recommend NOT selling them at your “nearest college campus bookstore” if I were you. They’re a total rip off.

    I am currently a graduate student and have had to buy and sell books every two and a half to three months. I’ve found that the buy back prices offered by our campus bookstores are sometimes 300% to 400% LESS (I’m not joking) than the prices I can find on the internet. No joke.

    As an example, I tried to sell a Finance book back about a month ago and my campus bookstore offered $8. I didn’t think that was a good deal, so I decided to keep it and see what I could get for it over the internet. I used a book buying site similar to the one mentioned in this post above and was able to sell it for $35, with FREE shipping. Most all of these sites email you printable USPS postage labels as part of selling the book and you can either request to receive a check or get a direct deposit. Just be sure you have a bunch of boxes ready to go for shipping.

    You can also sell out-of-print books on sites like the one above while sometimes local college bookstores are not willing to take them back.

  11. what is your degree(s) in?

  12. I’m getting an MBA… Double major in Marketing & Strategy.

  13. thanks for the great lead. I’d been wondering what to do with books that I had trouble selling on half.com and this seemed like a good solution. In general, I liked the ease of use and the alternative it offers, but found the site to be off on many of its price qoutes.

    I’ve been buying, but mostly selling textbooks online for almost 3 years. I took up the hobby of dumpster diving in grad school since I lived next to campus and rode bike past big garbage heaps. I’d often check the contents of boxes and find text books worth 10, 25, 50 and $100. I could sell them overnight on half.com as the lowest seller. I maintained a sizeable inventory of 60+ books and made $1000 in book sales last year. Now that I’ve moved and I’m out of school, I’m now down to 30 books, none of which are very good or valuable, so I have to decide to donate, sell cheaply, or hold and hope.

    Most of my books, bigwords did not want “students not buying.” several offered reasonable prices that I could dump quickly and get some cash, which I’m looking for right now. Many offered low prices, quoted $8.50 on half.com and $.01 on amazon. Both prices were always wrong, and both were often close to $2-4 on either site.

    I found the site very helpful in a way that kayak.com is helpful for finding cheap airfare. It may not have the best price, but it has a quick link to every site selling the book, so comparison buying and selling becomes much more efficient than physically looking up each book on each site. With Bigwords, I could look up my book, see if anyone offered a good price, and decide if it was worth putting/keeping on half or amazon.

    Personally I prefer half.com for selling, and amazon for buying. Amazon takes too big a cut for sellers, and too much competition from big sellers prices me out of the market. I guess I rely on buyers who prefer half.com…however I often compare my prices to the lowest price on Amazon and count on smart consumers to find my books. Other factors include no expiration of inventory and user friendly inventory management.

  14. sorry stephen, my question was meant for jonathan

  15. @bobby – I studied mechanical engineering.

    @Richard – What did you use to establish fair market value?

    Bigwords has a link to donate unwanted textbooks as well through BetterWorldBooks. If you donate 3 books they’ll cover shipping.

  16. Amazon while they take a fairly large piece of the pie, is a great option for selling your textbooks. I was able to sell an entire box of textbooks in about a week. It was truly amazing.

  17. to original poster, so i was wondering which buyback site (not talking about amazon, half, or ebay) actually sent you a check after you mailed them your books? thx.

  18. You can also use this website to buy books.. I often buy tech books at Bigwords for 80% off retail.

  19. why is this post duplicated at this guy’s blog: [link to scraper removed]

  20. @mark – Because people think that they can steal content word-for-word and make easy money from it.

  21. DMCA is your friend. If they are surrounding the stolen content with Adsense then Google is pretty good about shutting them down, not fast, but they do process the complaints. Gotta send them a hard copy signed letter.

  22. I have a degree in Computer Engineering. Math included Calc 1-3, Differential Equations, Discrete Math and Statistics. I wish this could have all been condensed into “Advanced Engineering Mathematics”.

    • TERRI LESHER says:

      I’VE FOUND AN OLD COPY OF AN ARITHMETIC TEXTBOOK COPYRIGHTED IN 1926. I BELIEVE IT TO BE AN OLD INDIAN MATH BOOK. THE NAME IS ” THE IROQUOS ARITHMETIC” IT’S VOLUME THREE. IT’S NOT IN THE BEST SHAPE BUT IT’S NOT IN BAD SHAPE EITHER. I WAS JUST CURIOUS IF YOU KNEW ANYTHING ABOUT IT OR WOULD KNOW ANYONE INTERESTED IN PURCHASING IT. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO EMAIL ME IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS,
      TY,
      TERRI

  23. The key to getting good money back at your college bookstore is to sell at the right time. Most of the year they buy for a national wholesaler who pays very little. When they buy for their shelves they will give you 50% to 65% of what you paid at the beginning of the semester. Also, check with your professors to makes sure they have turned in their book requests. The bookstore can only buy books for which they have orders and professors NEVER turn them in on time.

  24. Sort of related: I sold over 500 CDs a few years ago, and looking back I am amazed at what I got for them. Now I’d get maybe 1/5th as much, I think.

    I wonder with Kindle, the new iPad and all, if the tipping point is about to arrive for books?

  25. So, did you ever receive the checks? Were they for the right amount? Please let us know.

  26. I found Chegg pays the highest prices for used texts. I also use them to rent texts every semester instead of buying and save a lot of money! I wanted to share a promotional code that your readers can use to get an extra $5 when selling used texts to Chegg or for a discount on their text order. Put in the code when ordering and hit the “apply” button.

    The code does NOT have an expiration date so it can be used at anytime. Here it is:
    CC125998 (edited by admin, due to comment guidelines)

    Feel free to share with friends who need to save money.

  27. I know this post is almost a year old, but I stumbled across it while trying to sell a few remaining texts books and I wanted to say thanks. I used amazon for the bulk of my books and was left with 5 they didn’t take so I’ve been searching for a site that would take the last 5. While I still have 3 books left over, I got rid of two more which is what I wanted.

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  1. Students and Graduates-Send In Your Books! « The Millionaire Nurse Blog says:

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