Going to college is an expensive business, and the price of textbooks can be rather eye-watering. Thankfully there’s a busy market for reselling textbooks. This article looks at how to sell your used textbooks, including where to sell them and how to get the best price.
If you have a stock of old textbooks at home, you could be sitting on an unexpected nest egg. Don’t let it linger in the attic until it’s out of date and loses its value.
Getting the Best Price for your Used Textbooks
It seems obvious, but the amount you get paid will be affected by the condition of the books. Some buy-back services will not accept books unless they meet their individual definition of “good condition.”
For example, some services will not accept books with water damage, missing pages, excessive annotations, or a damaged cover or spine.
In order to avoid this sort of damage, and maximise the price when you sell textbooks, it is best to be careful when using them. Try to avoid eating or drinking while you are working, make notes with stick-on “Post-its,” rather than in the margins, and store the books on a shelf, rather than on the floor!
WHEN to Sell your Textbooks
It’s probably a good idea to wait until you have finished using each book(!) but the sooner you can sell them the better. Some text books are updated almost every year, and they can even drop off the curriculum, leaving them with almost zero value.
If you’re finished with a textbook before your classmates, you might even find there’s immediate demand for it.
How to Sell Textbooks
There are a number of different ways to sell your used textbooks. To identity the exact book you have, you’re usually asked for the ISBN. This is the International Standard Book Number, a 10 or 13 digit code identifying specific editions of a book.
You may also be asked for the EAN (European Article Number). This is a barcode which should include a 12 or 13-digit number.
Where to Sell Textbooks
There are a lot of sites out there offering to buy textbooks. Here’s a guide to the most popular, and some information on how they work.
These are primarily US companies, but some operate in multiple countries, and we’ve also added a couple of specific options in the UK for our British readers.
Amazon is clearly the most obvious choice when it comes to trading in books. It has a couple of options for people wanting to sell their college textbooks. There’s a buy-back scheme, or you can also register as a marketplace seller. (We have a dedicated article on selling used books on Amazon here).
Amazon trade-in is fairly strict when it comes to the condition of the books, and you will get the one price Amazon offers, rather than a selection. It is, however, very quick and convenient.
Bookbyte, like many other sites, will pay for your shipping. They supply a label you print out yourself.
Once you have agreed to sell your textbook and shipped it, they promise to pay within 4-14 days of receipt, via check or PayPal.
Bookfinder is a bit different, because it gives you buyback offers from multiple websites.
You are able to compare which website offers the best deal, then go to that partner and sell your textbook. Usually these partners will pay for your postage.
BooksRun accepts all kinds of different college textbooks. You can do the usual ISBN search, or search by title or author, as well as browsing by category.
A browse through the site will give you a good general idea of the kind of prices BooksRun will pay. The price offered depends on the book and its condition, in three categories of “New,” “Used – Very Good,” or “Used – Acceptable.”
Bookscouter is similar to BookFinder. It prides itself on being the world’s largest textbook buyback price comparison tool. It searches over 30 buyback vendors. As such, you are offered a choice of prices for your old textbooks, and you then choose the buyer you prefer.
Like many other services, Bookscouter has a mobile app. There is also detailed information available on each of their partner vendors.
The inventively named Cash4Books offers a price for used textbooks across a variety of subject areas. Payment takes about two weeks, and is in the form of a check or PayPal payment – so it’s not really cash, despite the name!
Cash4Books is definitely a reputable option, however, and boasts a five star TrustPilot rating.
Chegg markets itself as offering very low prices on textbooks. If you’re looking to spend the money you make selling textbooks on buying new ones, it might make sense to do it all here.
It’s worth checking the prices against a few other sites before committing to selling here. Also, be aware the Chegg uses UPS for sending books in, so you need to drop them into a UPS store.
Campus Books is another comparison site, like several of the options listed here. They include vendors who pay for your books with cash, check, PayPal or store credit.
One particularly notable feature of Campus books is a good section of advice on how to get the most money from selling your college textbooks.
Decluttr deals in many other items beyond textbooks. You can even sell Lego, CDs and phones. There is also a thriving marketplace, if you’re looking to buy as well as sell.
You can sell directly to Decluttr, in a similar way to other sites. If you opt to take your payment as store credit, there are offers that can make it more worth your while.
The marketplace option also allows you to advertise your textbooks directly on the site. The company takes 15% commission when your textbooks sell.
MusicMagpie is the UK arm of Decluttr, already mentioned above, and it works in exactly the same way.
You can enter a book barcode directly, or download the mobile app and scan through all of your completed textbooks at once to check their value.
We’ve reviewed MusicMagpie in detail here. Since publishing that article, we have used the site more and have found that with books, the company is very efficient in terms of payment. However, it’s fair to say that there’s an element of “the luck of the draw” when it comes to whether you have the kind of books they’re willing to pay good money for.
Success on this particular site very much depends on whether they are currently looking to buy the textbook you’re selling – and that you have the correct US scholastic edition.
If you don’t have the edition they need, there’s still a chance you will get a quote for the textbook you are selling, and that quote is good for seven days. There’s free shipping, and payment is via cash, PayPal or store credit.
Ziffit is a more general book selling site, with a presence in the UK and Ireland, as well as in the US. The site does offer specialist options for those looking to sell textbooks, but they will give you a quote for pretty much anything with a spine and a cover – so long as the book is in good condition.
Ziffit has an app, so you have an option of scanning book barcodes instead of manually inputting ISBNs. The company pays swiftly once books are mailed to them.
Tips for Selling your Textbooks
- With so many sites to choose from, it’s worth getting quotes from several sites. Usually, quotes are good for at least seven days, giving you time to compare.
- Most sites will offer you free shipping in the form of a printed label, and a variety of payment options. If you want to sell your textbooks and get money quickly, it’s worth checking out the payment terms. Some sites can take up to two weeks to pay, after they receive your textbook(s).
- If you are selling college textbooks, there’s a chance that you might be in the market for buying others for the next semester. In this case it’s definitely worth looking at taking store credit with some sites. Doing this could make your next textbook purchase much cheaper.
Finally, to reiterate, make sure you look after your textbooks, and sell them as soon as you’re done with them. THAT is how you’ll get the most money back for them.
What to Read Next
- If you’re a student in need of more cash, our Online Jobs for Students article is where you need to head next!
- Don’t dismiss eBay as a place to earn extra money either! This article gives you some expert tips.
- For more side gig ideas, check out this article.
Alex is an experienced public speaker and podcaster, and has been working in the marketing and media industry for most of this century. He held a senior marketing role with Royal Mail, before becoming a marketing consultant. He founded the crowdfunding events business “Crowdfinders” and has recently been Head of Membership for The Marketing Society. In 2013 Alex created “Your Best Man”, a consultancy helping people with all manner of speeches from weddings to business.