Things to consider when selling your books online

For decades the only place to sell back your used books was the campus bookstore. If you were lucky they would buy your books and if you were luckier you might get more than meal money. The Internet obviously changed all that. Now students have access to thousands of potential buyers; eBay alone has over 25,000 textbooks for sale. Even more traditional online bookstores and Barnes& are buying back textbooks. The marketplace is so large that websites such as and have been created to specialize in that area.

Students are now taking advantage of this opportunity in record numbers. More often selling their books back for more than their campus bookstore was offering. What could be better than that? What could possibly be the drawback you ask? Well for one it’s just not as simple as turning on your computer and selling your books. With so many options it takes time sorting through them all. Luckily has an online price comparison tool that allows you to plug in your book’s details and check out the going rate for your book over most of the major websites.

However it’s still going to take some time to list all of your books for sale on those websites. Time is money and you’ll be earning it. It won’t take up hours of your time, but expect to spend more time than you would have waiting in line at the buyback counter. Once yours books are listed for sale online, you’ll need to manage those sales, answer questions from prospective buyers, and if you’re lucky sell those books. Then you need to lug all those books to the post office (hopefully it’s on campus) and mail them off. Make sure you have the correct postage, the correct addresses, and the correct books going to the correct addresses.

Many of these websites will also take a commission out of your sale price reducing the amount you receive. That is when you finally receive your money. After all the work is said and done you’ll still have to wait for your money to arrive. Waiting for a check to arrive isn’t quite the same as the instant gratification you get walking out of the bookstore with a handful of cash. When all is said and done you might have only made a dollar or two more than the bookstore was offering. Cashing a check for $7.50 isn’t necessarily better than walking out of the bookstore with $5 in cash.

Ultimately there are benefits and drawbacks to everything. The students who benefit the most from selling their books are the ones who understand everything involved. Even if you ultimately decide to sell your books on campus you’ll be doing yourself a HUGE disservice by not taking a look at an online price comparison tool such as the one available on It only takes a minute or two and you might be surprised to find out that other students are buying that Bio book for $100, which beats the $25 the bookstore offered your roommate.

By: Dan Russell

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