Although textbooks are typically bought and resold by college students using them for classes, they can also be a great way to get a little extra spending cash in your wallet. With just a few hours per week and a detail-oriented eye, almost anyone can profit from reselling textbooks.
Finding textbooks to resell
While some students sell their books back to the bookstore or on websites like Amazon eBay, sometimes they just want to get rid of them and not deal with the hassle of trying to find a buyer. Good places to find cheap textbooks include places such as thrift stores, yard sales, and used book stores. Oftentimes at thrift stores and yard sales, there will be multiple books from a single student. They can be purchased for as low as 50 cents a piece sometimes. If you already enjoy thrift shopping, keep an eye out for textbooks on your next trip! If not, perhaps start up a new hobby of spending a couple of hours on the weekends visiting yard sales. The best time to find cheap textbooks is at the end of a semester when students are trying to get rid of all of their books. A single textbook can sell for upwards of $100 or more, so with an hour or two of hunting and an investment of only a couple dollars, the profits can be great.
Knowing what to look for
Not all textbooks will bring in the money. Some are duds, and can barely be sold for pennies. So how do you know which ones to buy and which to leave behind? Here are a few of the main things to keep in mind.
– Age. Looking at the title page will oftentimes tell you the year that the book was published. If it was published in the last four years, chances are that it will still be worth something. Anything older than that is probably not worth much, as a newer edition has likely been published since then.
– Condition. Textbooks in pristine condition can sell for far more than ones in not so great condition. A brand new version of a book might bring in $70, while an older version with highlighted pages and tears might only be worth $25. Use your judgment on this – if you were a student looking to buy a textbook, would you be happy with the condition it was in?
If you’re unsure, go with your gut instinct. A gamble of $2 or $3 won’t put a large dent in your wallet if it turns out to be a dud, but might end up being worth $40 or $50. After selling a few textbooks and seeing what works and what doesn’t, you’ll develop a better sense of what might be worth taking a chance on.
Once you’ve acquired a textbook (or a few), it’s time to find out the value. Do a bit of research using the book’s ISBN number on sites like Amazon, Alibris, and eBay. Look for copies in similar condition to yours, and see what the average asking price is.
When you have an idea what the book is going for, list it on one of the above mentioned sites. A book may sit for weeks on eBay but sell immediately on Amazon, or vice versa. Sometimes it can be helpful to list a book on multiple sites to be seen by more potential buyers. When listing the book, always describe any marks or blemishes, and provide pictures if necessary. This lets buyers know exactly what they’ll be receiving and lessens the chance of someone being unhappy with their purchase.
From talking to many college students, I’ve learned that people will pay a bit more for a personal touch. One seller might have a book for $45 with an uninformative description such as “May have some markings, torn pages, etc.” Another seller could have the same book for a few more dollars, but with a more personal description: “Some pages bent, minimal highlighting in chapters 2-4, normal cover wear. Comes from a non-smoking home.” People have been known to pay more in order to know exactly what they’re getting, and not just a general description from a mass book-seller.
Best time to sell
In order to make the most money reselling textbooks, you should know when the best time to sell is. Most students are looking for books around August when the semester is about to begin. Since they are in high demand, you can expect to sell for more than you would at the end of the semester when everyone is trying to get rid of them and many copies are available.
In the past month, I’ve resold three textbooks. I paid $1 for each of them at yard sales, and made almost $200. It can be a quick and fun way to make some extra cash without spending a lot of time. There will always be a demand for textbooks, so the opportunity is always there.