Passing along your used textbooks

textbooksCredit:, Supertrooper

Textbooks cost a fortune these days, and the speed at which information changes means that saving them for reference doesn’t make sense any longer.  Pretty much everything you might need to know for general subjects can be found on the internet.  Sadly, these rapid changes and alternate sources of information also frequently mean that the class you just took will be changing, or eliminating their textbooks, and the college bookstore will no longer buy back your books.  Maybe you’ve since moved, or are simply no longer a student, and using the bookstore on campus to get rid of your books is no longer an option.  For whatever reason, you now have a pile of very expensive books sitting on your dining room table and you’re wondering what to do with them.  There's always Goodwill, but it would be nice to get at least a little bit of your cash back, wouldn't it?  I explored several ideas, and I can tell you the options I’ve tried, and what I finally settled on.  All of these are free to get started.

College bookstore buyback

This would have been my first choice, just because it would have been quick, and left me with actual dollars in hand, but I no longer had a valid student ID card.  The downside is that they don’t pay much for the books, and you are limited to returning books that are required for a future class.  Old editions are out. Check your bookstore's web site to see if there's an easy way to lookup the ISBN number and verify buyback before you haul all those books back in your backpack.

Pros.  Quick, real money

Cons. May require student ID, limited selection, low payout.

I have purchased books from this site so I thought I would try it for selling.  It’s very easy to use, you just put in the ISBN and it pulls up all the information about the book, including what others are trying to sell it for. You can choose the price you want to put on the book, it’s free to list, and your listing doesn’t expire.  There is a big downside which you may miss in all the excitement; sets the reimbursement price for shipping.  I don’t know how they decided how heavy a book is, but it doesn’t apply to textbooks.  Your shipping costs will likely be higher than what they will reimburse you.  If you aren’t careful, it may cost you money to sell your book.  You need to find out what the real cost of shipping will be and be sure you reflect the additional cost in the price of your book.  You could estimate based on the weight listed in the book's description, or weigh the book, if you have an accurate scale.  Shipping prices can be found online.  I sold two books through and they paid promptly according to their policy.

Pros.  Easy, doesn’t expire

Cons.  Shipping policy

This is the mother site of, and if you’ve signed up for one, you’ve really signed up for both.  The advantage over Half is that you choose what the buyer will pay for shipping, and that’s listed separately from the price. You can search the site to see if your particular book is listed, and what price is being asked for it.  It’s less easy to list a book, but you can copy the info from Half and use that.  The big problem with Ebay is that your listing expires in seven days and you need to keep relisting.  I don't have any idea how well textbooks sell here, since it has such a variety of items available.  None of my books sold, but Ebay has a good reputation and I expect payment wouldn’t be an issue.

Pros.  Easy, you choose shipping

Cons.  Need to continually relist.


Amazon Book Trade-In

This is what I ended up using.  Your books need to be in at least ‘good’ condition, and in demand. It’s easy to look up the ISBN on their site and find out if they are accepting that book, and what your reimbursement will be.  After you’ve entered your books and verified that you’ll be sending them in, Amazon sends you a shipping label to print which gives you about a week to get them out the door.  It costs you nothing to ship them except a box and your time.  I was pretty happy with the price I was offered (especially since I hadn’t been able to sell them anywhere else), and it was credited to my account quickly once they received the shipment.  The downside of this is that what you receive is credit to shop at Amazon, not money.  If you’re a fan of online shopping, this is just fine, otherwise you might want to check the site before you do this and decide if you’ll be able to find something you’d like to buy. 

Pros.  Easy, paid shipping

Cons.  Store credit, not cash


There are other textbook buyback sites out there that I saw, some probably more reputable than others.  Make an effort to verify that a site is in good standing with your friends (or random strangers on the internet) before signing up and wasting your time.  I didn’t look any farther than since it was recommended to me by a young university student and I figured that was the best recommendation I was going to get.  A lot of my books I’ll just end up donating because they’re so old they aren’t in use anymore.  I’d take them straight to the recycling center but it breaks my heart to trash a book, even if it is full of information that’s 30 years old.   Perhaps I should have done this sooner.

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