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How to Get the Most Money Out of Your Old Textbooks


Do you have a bunch of used textbooks laying around, collecting dust? I know I do. Last week, I got an interesting article suggestion from one of my readers, Jennifer (I love reader suggestions by the way. If you have one, feel free to contact me!).

“Hi Derek!

First of all, I enjoy reading your blog. I’m just finishing up my
freshman year at USC, so not quite in your position, but once I
graduate, I know I will be in a lot of debt for the student loans I
had to take out to go to USC.

I had a post idea for you! Obviously, you’re not a student anymore,
but many of your readers have families or (like me!) are! What about a
story on selling back old textbooks?

Old TextbooksAhhh Textbooks….

I remember them like it was yesterday… those textbooks that you buy for $100, and then sell back about 4 months later for $15, if you’re lucky. I remember one instance where I bought a “required textbook” that wasn’t even used during the entire semester. When I attempted to sell it back to the bookstore, they acted like they were doing me a favor by offering $2 for it… I believe I responded, “Two dollars?! No thanks, I think I’ll get more than $2 worth of enjoyment by kicking it around or burning it.”

How to Get the Most Money Out of Your Used Textbooks

First of all, if the textbook pertains to your degree, I would suggest holding on to it. It could come in handy once you get that job in Corporate America. I held onto many of my Finance textbooks, and while my occupation does not fully utilize this area of expertise, they have actually come in pretty handy for this website! If you are passionate about your degree, hold on to those books. You’ll be glad you did.

So, what about those books that you’ll never use again? Here are some suggestions.

1) Do Not Sell Them Back to the School Bookstore! – You do realize that your University is a for-profit institution, right? Just like any other business, they are trying to earn a profit in every area of operation, including those textbooks.

You would be lucky if the bookstore gave you half of what you paid for that book. Most of the time, it’s more like 20% or less. The bookstore is one of the worst places to sell that textbook.

2) Don’t Buy a New Book in the First Place

If you buy a book new in the first place, you will never get the full price of that book back. It’s like driving a new car off the lot – once you buy it, you’ll almost certainly lose money on the resale. You can easily find a gently used textbook for half the price of a new one.

3) Learn to Sell Those Books on eBay

I think all of you are aware of my love for Craigslist, but this is one instance where I think it’s better to utilize the power of eBay! First of all, your book will be displayed to a larger audience (which should yield you more money), and secondly, your textbook may now be an old version in your region (which would yield you no money), but it may still be used in a University a few states away!

I actually found myself in this exact scenario. My Chemistry book originally cost me $95 (used) and after that semester, it was no longer the most up-to-date version, so the bookstore would not buy it back. Instead of giving it away, I posted it on eBay and received $88 for it! Not to shabby I’d say.

4) Learn When to Sell That Book

The timing of your sale will certainly dictate the amount that you’ll receive for that textbook. Normally, the semesters for Universities start in early January and late August. If you try to sell your book in March, you’ll only get pennies on the dollar because everyone has already started their class and has bought the book! Consider posting your book for sale in late December and early August. These are the best times to sell (when demand is high).

5) Talk to Friends and Build a Network

In your Freshman and Sophomore year, pretty much all of the students are taking similar “Gen Ed” classes. Network with your group of friends and talk about what classes you’re taking next semester. There will no doubt be some people that are signed up for the class that you just finished. Sell them the book for less than they can buy it for in the bookstore, and more than you could sell it for (sounds like a win-win to me!).

This can also work later in your college years too. Once your classes become more focused around your degree, you can talk to your classmates about the classes they need to take next semester. They might still have to take that class that you are finishing up.

Make More Money on That Textbook

I hope that these tips will help you get more money out of that textbook. If you have more ideas, make sure to post them in the comment section below! Your comment might land someone an extra $20! And, we all know that every penny counts during those college years!

Save Money


My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. I’ve been selling mine to Chegg. The bookstore is too cheap, and Chegg makes it a piece of cake. Amazon is supposedly getting into the textbook rental space, so I’ll be interested to see how that works out.

    • Chegg huh? I haven’t heard of that one. Thanks for letting us know!

  2. My text books are so old, would they go up in value? You know like first editions! I kept certain books because I thought I would use them. I never did! I should have sold them a long time ago.

    • Ha, I’ve actually never heard of textbooks going up in value! I’d say this is pretty improbably unless they’ve been used by someone famous or are over 100 years old.

  3. Yah, never sell them back to the book store! Made that mistake more than once! Follow Derek’s advice and sell them online. if you have questionable ethics you can also make a profit to your friends. I don’t recommend this but I have seen it done lol.

    Chegg is sweet too. Try Craigs list also. You’d be surprised at how many people are looking for used textbooks!

    • Thanks for the input Jon! If I were going to make money on the sale with my friends, I would definitely let them know. Haha, but I bet there are plenty of people that don’t! 😉

  4. Craigslist as well as student classifieds were a good way to buy and sell used textbooks and save money!

    • Craigslist would work well if your textbook is still in demand at the local universities. If not though, I would advise selling it on eBay.

  5. Great article, great timing. Its finals week, and there are makeshift tents set up all along the sidewalks featuring companies trying to buy used textbooks back. Sadly for me, I didn’t buy many textbooks, so I wont get a big payout.

    • Haha. Who would have thought that those textbooks would be such big business? Crazy.

  6. Great post- timing is definitely of the essence when selling textbooks.

    We have to buy our books for my kids’ high school, and I sell those on Amazon when my last child is done with it.

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