What You Need to Know About Selling College Textbooks

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by the author of What School Should Have Taught You: 75 Skills You’ll Actually Use in Life

With last semester having wrapped up, there are a lot of college students who are now staring at that big pile of expensive textbooks on their desk that they no longer have any use for.

Here you are going to school for an engineering degree and now you have a shelf full of sociology, English, and movie history textbooks. What on earth are you going to do with those? You spent close to $400 on them all and now they’re just taunting you as they sit on the shelf.

Can you make a bit of money with them? Let’s take a look.

It’s incredibly common for students to sell their books at the end of each semester, but some ways will net you more money than others. Overall, here are the trends.

The campus bookstore

If you want to get ripped off, this is where you go.

Sure, they’ll buy just about everything that you have to offer them, but they’re going to do this at a steep discount of what you would be able to do if you went for other options.

Newsflash: you want to go for those other options.

I really wouldn’t advocate for the campus bookstore unless you have no other options. So, at the moment, we’ll just stow away this option at the very bottom of our list.

Selling to friends who need to take the same course

You never want to force your buddy to pay full retail on books, so this is pretty much always something that will result in more money than the bookstore will pay you, but it’s still going to be at a hefty discount from what you could have gotten from other sources.

The cool thing about this is you’re able to help your buddy out while at the same time putting a little bit of money back in your pocket.


You can do pretty well here. You’ll be able to charge whatever the going market price is here for used textbooks and you can typically sell them off fairly quickly. You don’t really have to worry about this with Amazon as much, but if you’re selling with eBay, just make sure that you receive the payment before you ship the item or you can say adios to ever being compensated for your books.


These guys are one of the major players when it comes to used textbooks. You’ll likely be able to fetch a higher price with either Amazon or eBay, but if you’re having a hard time of actually finding a buyer on either of those two marketplaces, you still have virtually a guaranteed buyer with Chegg.

They make their money by renting out textbooks to students across the nation, so they need a ready supply of textbooks. That’s where you come in with that $300 anatomy textbook you purchased.

The only catch is that you probably already have an Amazon and eBay account, but don’t have a Chegg account.

Bookstores around town

If you live in a college town, odds are there’s a bookstore nearby. And if there’s a bookstore nearby, they are going to sell used college textbooks. It’s an easy money source for them with a ready market and they’d be stupid not to do so.

To bolster their stock, they buy used textbooks from students and typically at much better prices than does the campus bookstore. If you’re looking for a location where you can offload as many of your textbooks as possible with minimal interaction with the internet, this is a great place to do so.

On-campus retailers

There are often businesses that will make the rounds through a campus post-semester, plastering posters everywhere saying that they will buy your old textbooks. If you keep an eye out for the campus bulletin boards, you should be able to find these guys fairly easily.

Prices tend to be pretty good, and this makes for another easy way to turn books back into cash you’re going to need for paying off those student loans.

Book it for book money

I should probably add that the sooner after your course that you can sell your textbook, the better chances you have of making money here. Typically, buyers have a quota that they are looking to hit. Once they pick up 400 copies of that particular physics textbook that you’re selling, they quit buying. On the personal level, the individual student has a quota of one – they only need one book to take that course.

So do what you can to sell those books as quickly as possible so that you can actually walk away with a bit of cash in hand. If you try to wait till next semester, there’s a very good chance that the textbook could then be upgraded, and you find yourself with what is now considered an out-of-date textbook that doesn’t fetch anywhere near as high of a price.

But what do you think about all of this? Have you ever sold your own textbooks? Do you have any tips to share? Let us know in the comments section.

About Aden

Aden Tate is a regular contributor to TheOrganicPrepper.com and TheFrugalite.com. Aden runs a micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has four published books, What School Should Have Taught You, The Faithful Prepper An Arm and a Leg, The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications, and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American on Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.

What You Need to Know About Selling College Textbooks
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Aden Tate

About the Author Aden Tate has a master’s in public health and is a regular contributor to PewPewTactical.com, SurvivalBlog.com, SHTFBlog.com, ApartmentPrepper.com, HomesteadAndPrepper.com, and PrepperPress.com. Along with being a freelance writer he also works part-time as a locksmith. Aden has an LLC for his micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has two published books, The Faithful Prepper and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American at Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.

1 thought on “What You Need to Know About Selling College Textbooks”

  1. I still don’t understand why more colleges don’t make the transfer to PDF? You can still charge a fixed rate per class for a textbook, but it prices will come down. That gets rid of the rapine rates charged by schools.

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