The end of the semester is near and you’ve got a ton on your mind — finals, packing up your room, summer plans, vacations, jobs and internships, the real world . . . We get it, you don’t have time or interest in reading any more than is already on your syllabi, so let’s roll with some straight talk.

There’s no way that any students will keep all of their books and by now, almost all students know that selling those unwanted books back to the campus bookstore will not garner much cash and may even make them feel hostile (the old “I paid $250 for this four months ago. You’re offering me $4 back for it now? Even in perfect condition?”) It sucks, but with a little planning and prep on your part, it doesn’t have to suck so much and you can actually come out in decent shape and headed into summer with 1) fewer books to pack and move, 2) some dough in your pocket. Here’s how:

Time your buybacks. Do not wait until after finals or graduation. Visit the selling tool to get your price quotes a few days before you’ll be done with the books. Read the buyer’s terms and see how many days you have to ship your book. Time it so that your quote remains valid for those few days when you still need your book and then make sure that you ship within deadline. Striking this balance will help you secure a higher price before buyers reach their quotas while you keep the book as long (but not longer) than you need it. And the deadline will give you some incentive to follow up.

Speaking of, follow up! Yes, you do have to do a little work beyond just locking in your buyback quote. You actually have to ship the book back. The good news is that it’s never been easier or cheaper to do so. Most buyers provide shipping reimbursement or even a prepaid envelope or label. Most also work with big names like UPS and USPS and FedEx so that you can just drop the package in a dropbox and be done. Remember that a buyback quote is a contract and you only get your cash when you follow the instructions within the time allotted.

Be flexible with payment. Some buyers offer PayPal, others mail checks, still others offer credit for future purchases. Read the terms before you agree and make sure that you provide all the information needed so that they can receive your book, check it in, and get you paid. Make it as easy as possible for them to give you money by following directions and also not shipping them garbage. Nobody wants your beer-stained textbook and no buyer will buy it in that sort of poor condition. If the buyer requires that you include supplements, INCLUDE SUPPLEMENTS. Don’t send back a dodgy book and then wonder why you didn’t get full (or any) value. Don’t select PayPal and not include your email and then wonder where your money is.

Make it easy on yourself and put your smartphone to work. If you have an iPhone or a Droid, grab the Mobile App for Smartphones and save yourself the hand-keying. Use our app and your phone’s camera    to scan the barcodes on your textbooks and find the highest buyback    values going. It’s insanely easy and totally on the go.

Take a gander at “Selling Back Books: A Few Simple Rules.” These rules and tips and reality checks will help you get through finals and buyback without losing your mind. Follow these guidelines and you will be well served to maximize your cash back and keep your sanity during a very-crazy end-of-term time. Good luck!