School Books: Buy Cheap Books, Sell Used Books

School Books: Buy Cheap Books, Sell Used Books

Posted in Articles by Jess

Don't you just love getting your syllabus every school year and noticing the long list of mandatory books for all five or six of your classes? Of course, every professor insists that the ten books on their syllabus are absolutely necessary to the learning process, but in a lot of cases you might open that book once. Most schools will give a rough estimate of how much textbooks will cost, but as the years pass you learn to multiply that number by five or six for the real total. When thinking about how much school will cost that year not only should you be thinking of tuition, but go ahead and tack on an extra couple hundred dollars for books. Sure some schools will offer to buy back your textbooks at the end of the year, but don't let them fool you. That $150 textbook will most likely be bought back for a whopping $20 or $30 dollars. Let's be real, in today's world that'll only get you about two sandwiches and maybe two carmel frappuccinos at Starbucks. The cost of going to school is already high, so stop over paying for your school books. There are places online and even local bookstores where you can buy cheap books instead of buying directly from your school's bookstore. Instead of getting an unfair price for your books at the end of the semester, sell used books at your own asking price.


The first trick to buying cheap books is to not wait until the last second to get them. We're all guilty of it but the sooner you make a solid list of all the books you'll need the better. One of the best places to buy textbooks or regular school books online is from Instead of searching by book title, search using the book's ISBN. There may be different editions of a book and you don't want to buy the wrong one. Amazon gives the option of buying the book brand new or used too. Within both options, a list of all the sellers will come up and you can browse through to choose the seller offering an ideal price. Another reason why Amazon is so great is because if you do decide to buy the book used, you can see what condition the book is in (i.e. Good, Acceptable, Like New) along with a short description like, “some signs of wear, highlighting, etc”. You can read seller reviews and ratings so you know you're not buying from anyone shady. A few other trusted sites are and Chegg is a great option if you want to just rent your books instead of buying them and dealing with the hassle of selling them later.


The downside to buying books online of course is the waiting time. It may take a few weeks for all of your books to come in and if you did wait until the last minute then you might not get your books in time for class. So if you need your textbooks fast, consider going to a local bookstore. Most towns with a school nearby are sure to have a bookstore that sells some of the same books that the school's bookstore does but at a discounted price. Their prices are generally cheaper because they know that if they price their books lower than the school bookstore, more people will go to them. The only problem with a local bookstore is that they may not have all of the books you need. Since they are a regular bookstore and not a school bookstore, they're not likely to have bought every single book for every single class that's offered.


The most frustrating thing about trying to sell used books back to the school's bookstore at the end of the year is when they don't take them. They might not take them for a number of reasons like that class won't be offered the next year or the professor decided to use a different edition next year. Even worse is when you pay $900 for your books that year and get $120 for them at the end of the year. Instead of opting for that fast $120, sell used books online or to the local bookstore. On websites like Chegg or Amazon, it's easy to set up a seller account and register your books online. When you're posting your books online, Amazon will show you the price they charge for the book so you can price it accordingly. A certain percentage does go to Amazon and the shipping cost but most people find they still get more money than if they had sold them back to the school bookstore. Selling books back to the local bookstore is more convenient than waiting for someone to buy your book online, but sometimes their buyback prices are just as low as the school bookstore.


The bottom line is no one likes to buy school books. It's just one of those things that comes with going to school like having to wake up at 7:00am to make it to a 7:45am core class on a Friday morning. Of course when you're buying nine or ten books your bill is going to be big but it doesn't have to be outrageous. Buy cheap books online and save those extra couple of bucks. After you're done with them for the year, sell used books online or to a different bookstore. It's tempting to get that fast cash from the school's bookstore, but fight that temptation! You'll most likely end up getting more money by selling them online and because you won't sell them all at once, you'll be even more excited when someone buys your book and you make a random $50 bucks in the middle of summer. 



Image (CC) geoffduncan 

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