Turning Books into Bucks: Where to Sell Your Used Textbooks

Whether you pay for them individually or as part of your tuition, textbooks are not cheap. Still, they are chock full of information and you have to have them. The problem is what to do with them when you are done. They can collect dust in your closet, sit on your bookshelf, subtly showing off your intellect or you can sell them in hopes of making some of that money back. When it comes to selling your books there are several options. Each has its pros and cons.


Traditionally, many students have sold their books back at the end of the semester to the school bookstore. The problem is you can usually only do it on certain days, during certain hours, and you have to wait in long lines and you usually get only a fraction of what the book costs back. Also, if you wait too long, you may get nothing back at all as new versions of books are constantly being printed.

Sell on Ebay, Craigslist and Amazon

You can sell the books yourself by listing them on eBay, Craigslist or Amazon. This way you can name the price, and likely get more for your books. On the downside, it will require more work on your end, and you’ll have to wait longer to get paid. You’ll have to go through the trouble of writing up a description for each book individually, downloading a photo and then waiting for them to sell. You will also have to pay a commission fee to sell through Ebay and Amazon. On Craigslist, you avoid the commission fee by selling directly to the buyer. You can also determine if you want to sell the books individually or in a bundle, but you will also have the hassle of figuring out how to deliver them. Another downside of selling online, if you are selling your books to multiple buyers it could mean several trips to the post office.

Book Buy-back Websites

The third option is kind of a combination of the first two. There are multiple websites that buy back used textbooks. Some of them include ecampus.com, chegg.com, half.com (an eBay company), cash4books.net, Barnesandnoble.com and amazon.com. Each work slightly differently, but the concept is the same. You go to their website, enter the ISBN number and title. Most provide a shipping label for you to send it in. Once they receive the book and check the condition, they cut you a check. It is easy and extremely convenient, but you will likely not make as much as you would selling them yourself online. Instead of cash, Amazon.com pays you in Amazon gift cards. If you choose this route, you may want to check out bookscouter.com first. It claims to compare prices from more than 40 book-buying websites to help you find the site paying the most without having to manually check each yourself.

Michelle Knoll

Michelle Knoll is a freelance writer based out of the Twin Cities with more than 15 years experience writing for local media outlets and other various organizations. She can be reached at Michelle@KnollCommunications.com

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