Got used textbooks cluttering up your bookshelves? It’s time to turn them into cash.
I’ve written about selling textbooks before — it’s a great way to make money in college — but today I want to take an in-depth look at the pros and cons of different reselling sites. These five websites will help you resell your textbooks for cash, gift cards or money that you can use to buy books for next semester. They all offer competitive prices and free shipping labels, but the sites have a few significant differences.
When you put a book’s ISBN into BookScouter, it scans a bunch of different book reselling sites and displays what each reseller is currently offering for that title. You get to pick the offer you like best and then ship your book directly to that reseller, who pays by PayPal or check.
To get an idea of what these different resellers offer, let’s test a random textbook: the seventh edition of “Principles of Microeconomics,” by N. Gregory Mankiw, ISBN 9781285165905. It was published in January 2014, and its publisher, Cengage Learning, gives $271.95 as the list price.
- The site compares offers from many different textbook resellers.
- BookScouter pays by PayPal or check.
- Doesn’t share reseller guidelines on acceptable book condition. Instead, it routes you to the reseller’s website, where you’ll have to search for them. If you send in a book that is determined to be unacceptable, you won’t get paid.
- According to their FAQ: “BookScouter is not very useful for selling rare, collectible or antique books.”
2. Amazon.com (AMZN)
The Amazon Textbook Buyback program is ready to turn your textbooks into Amazon Gift Cards. That’s right — you don’t get cash when you sell textbooks to Amazon, but you do get gift cards that you can spend on Amazon items, which is almost as good.
As of this writing, Amazon is offering $96 for “Principles of Microeconomics,” which is higher than any of the BookScouter offers. What else do you need to know about Amazon?
- Amazon offers competitive prices. When I checked, they weren’t always the highest, but were always close to or better than the prices on other reselling sites.
- Your earnings will be on a gift card, ready to buy next semester’s textbooks — or anything else you might want to buy on Amazon.
- You only get paid in Amazon Gift Cards (so you can only spend your earnings on Amazon).
- Amazon has very strict reselling guidelines. Books cannot have torn or folded pages, and they cannot have any notes or writing in them.
Unlike the other resellers on this list, Half.com won’t give you a suggested price for your textbooks. You price your item yourself, based on its value and condition. It’s a good idea to see what other users are pricing for the same book, to get an idea of what your textbook is worth.
As of this writing, Half.com users are selling “Principles of Microeconomics,” for $180.23 for a copy in “very good” condition, to $89.98 for a copy in “good” condition.
Is Half.com right for you?
- You get to price your item.
- You can edit your item price and description if your item does not sell.
- You get to price your item. For some people, that will be enough to turn them off to Half.com. What if you price too high and nobody buys your book, or price too low and don’t get as much money as another seller?
- You have to write your own item description and notes. If your book description isn’t as eye-catching as the competition, you might lose the sale.
How can you get some of this money? With eCampus you have two options: reselling books for in-store credit or selling them for cash in the form of a check or direct deposit. You’ll generally get more money for your books if you sell them for in-store credit, and you can use that credit to buy next semester’s textbooks.
For “Principles of Microeconomics,” eCampus offered me $81 in cash and $97.20 in in-store credit, which equals the $81 cash value plus a 20 percent in-store bonus.
Should you make eCampus your old textbooks’ new home?
- You can use your old textbooks to buy your new ones.
- The company offers bonuses that increase your in-store credit value.
- It accepts books with notes and highlighting.
- Its in-store credit rate for my test book was higher than any of the other reseller offers.
- If you want cash, be prepared to accept a lower price from eCampus.
5. Barnes Noble (BKS)
Like Amazon, Barnes Noble also offers a Textbook Buyback program. It offers payment in check or PayPal for books in acceptable condition. BN is ready to pay $91 for “Principles of Microeconomics,” which is right in line with the other resellers on this list.
Is Barnes Noble’s Textbook Buyback the right site for you?
- BN will accept books with underlining, as long as it is not excessive.
- You’ll receive payment via check or PayPal.
- You must have at least $10 worth of books to sell.
Want to make even more money with these five reseller sites? There’s no rule that says you can only resell textbooks you already own.
Go to garage sales and thrift stores or scan eBay for cheap textbook listings. If you see a textbook in good condition, plug the ISBN number into one of these sites and see how much it’s worth. Then, if the price is right, buy it, resell it and profit! You’ll get an A+ in making money.
Have you used any of these sites to successfully sell your old textbooks? Which one was your favorite?