Many people emphasize buying your textbooks for less to save money. You probably don’t want to keep your textbooks forever though. So why not get as much as you can when you sell them back too?
If you sell your books back to the school bookstore, they often boast that you can receive up to 50% of the purchase price back. But the key words there are “up to”. You probably won’t get 50% back. Even if you do, is 50% really the best you can do?
I often sell my textbooks to friends or other students on campus. At the beginning of this quarter, I decided I wanted to try and sell a bunch of textbooks on Ebay to get more money. So I started off my experiment by listing 10 books for sale (8 textbooks and 2 paperbacks that are often required reading in college). I was no stranger to Ebay. I have purchased many items on Ebay, including a few textbooks. I have also sold quite a few items on Ebay, including a calculus textbook that I was able to get back roughly 80% of the purchase price for. So I knew that Ebay could work, I had just been lazy before.
A lot of people seem to think listing things on Ebay is really difficult. They think you’ll need to spend all day listing just a few items, take a bunch of photos, pay huge fees, and then check your email constantly as soon as your items are up. This is not the case, it’s actually really easy to sell your textbooks on Ebay. You just need to set up an Ebay account and start selling. For textbooks, you can get the entire description by typing in the ISBN number of the book. That even gives you a stock photo of the textbook to use in your listing. It tells your buyers what edition the book is and can even generate the title for you.
You’ll still need to say if the book is new or used, but other than that, you’re pretty much all set. Then you decide how to ship the item (I’d recommend something at least as fast as UPS Ground, because college students often think of buying their books at the last minute), the price you’ll charge for shipping (you can calculate it for different areas or just use a standard fee), and what type of payments you’ll accept (for speedy transactions, I’d suggest setting up a PayPal account).
The first time it might take you 30 minutes because you’ll be setting up your Ebay account and your PayPal account. But each listing took me only 5 minutes. It would have taken a lot longer to physically go out and find people who would want to buy my books. And so much for the huge fees, because it only cost me 20 cents to list each book.
After that, all I had to do was sit back and wait. I always use 7 day auctions. Each day I would check my email to see if I had any questions about the books. Since I always figure many people will have the same questions, I would then add these to the description so other people could view the responses as well.
Don’t be alarmed if you don’t see any bids for the first few days. You can see if people have marked that they are watching your items. Check how many page counts you have. If you bid on Ebay as a buyer normally, think about it this way: you usually wait until the auction is ending rather than driving up the price, well, a lot of people do that too. If this is a book that many colleges use and it’s still the current edition, the price will go up. I like to start my auctions at 99 cents so more people decide to watch them.
In my experiment, 3 of the 8 textbooks listed were still current editions. The others I had hoped would just be of use to someone and so they’d sell for cheap. This wasn’t the case. The older editions didn’t sell because let’s face it, no one really reads textbooks for fun (unless they are a nerd like me). Of my three textbooks that did sell, one was brand new and still wrapped. I paid $130 for this genetics book, but I had dropped the class so I didn’t end up unwrapping the book. This book sold for $155! That’s nearly 120% back! I was shocked that a book could sell for more on Ebay than at the discount college bookstore down the street from the campus.
Then there was the psychology book. I took this class and had bought the book and the workbook. In class though, we only used the workbook. I had left my textbook at home sitting in the corner of my room. It was brand new. I paid $95 for it. It sold for $75. That’s almost 80% back! Despite it being new, the school would have bought it back as used for maybe 50% of the purchase price at best. Then came the biology book. I had purchased this book used. It had the used sticker on it, but was in excellent condition. I bought this one for $100. It sold for $60. That’s still 60% back!
The paperback books in my experiment did not sell. I think the problem was, even though they are required reading, it’s easier to buy such cheap books in a bookstore and not pay shipping. I’d recommend only selling higher priced books on Ebay so that it’s worth your time in listing, packing, and shipping.
After the buyers had paid by PayPal, I promptly shipped the books out the same day. Remember that when you’re selling college textbooks, students may need them for class very soon. You need to make sure to sell the books at a time when you know you’ll be able to ship them quickly.
So if you’re sick and tired of getting back less than 50% of what you paid for your textbooks, try Ebay. Just remember that you’ll still probably only be able to sell current editions, to ship out the books quickly, and to correctly represent the books you are selling. You can get back more for your books!