In the past, students were beholden to the campus buyback counter as the only outlet for their old books. Now however there are so many options online students no longer have to accept making pennies on the dollar for their used textbooks. Enterprising students are able to profit from their books, sometimes earning wads of cash rather than mere meal money.
Making the most off of your used books is not for the faint of heart. But if you are willing to put in the time and effort into selling your books online you can reap some nice rewards. To begin with it helps to NOT buy your books on campus in the first place. As soon as you sign up for next semester's classes get a hold of the required text list. Time is of the essence; the longer you have the more you can make of it. With list in hand start doing some online shopping. There are many schools that change the textbooks for courses from year to year which eliminate the "on-campus" demand and value of that text. But, if your school needs that text it has some value to you. The student at the other school might be happy to sell you that $150 book for $15 because it's $15 more than their bookstore was offering.
Not too long ago it could take forever bouncing from website-to-website trying to source the lowest priced book available. Luckily it's now 2008 and thanks to CampusBooks.com you only have to visit their website, type in your book's ISBN number and away you go. CampusBooks.com's online price tool allows you to view what the top book websites (including auction sites such as eBay.com) are selling your book for. You will also be able to get shipping costs and any of the other fine print that can add to the cost of your purchase.
The next step is eerily similar to the first, just the opposite. Instead of going online to buy your books, you go online to sell them. The exact same principles are at work and the book might be far more valuable on another campus than on your own. If you have time and patience take advantage of it. Typically the prices rise as the semester approaches and people become desperate. On some occasions the demand for a certain text might have skyrocketed for the next semester allowing a student to actually sell the book for more than they paid.
You are probably not going to make hundreds of dollars every single semester. There might be semesters where you only break even. But other years the stars might align and you'll strike gold with that geology book. Over the course of 4 years that it all adds up and maybe you've made $500-$1,000 which isn't too shabby.
By: Dan Russell