Friday, August 7, 2009

Getting the most out of college text books

Higher education can have a lofty price tag these days. Not just the usual suspects like tuition or room & board. When I went back to school last spring, I spent alot of money on books. In fact my book expenses were almost 40% of the amount that I paid in tuition! Imagine that, paying tuition, then spending somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of that on book... Why I haven't went into the college text book business is a mystery to me.

Depending on the class a text book might cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $60 - $150... sometimes less, sometimes more... You can save a few dollars by buying the used books at the bookstore, IF you beat the rush, used books are limited quantities...

Of course college bookstores will also buy your books back at the end of the semester, however you might be sad to find out that a book that you spent $100 on will be purchased back for around $20... I've been in the bookstore picking up books and saw a student turn in a stack of books and only get back about $40... And of course, used books, while less than new, still go for a pretty penny. If a book is $100 new, you can probably get a used copy at the bookstore for $80... that's quite a profit for the bookstore... you'd definitely get more dollars if you could cut out that middle man... but how do you do that? Well, you could try standing outside the bookstore and asking each student what they were looking to buy, but chances are that isn't the best use of your time... Which brings me to...

The wonderous invention we call the internet. Everyone knows you can buy practically anything online. Most of us are familiar with EBay or similiar sites that allow us to buy & sell at better prices than we might otherwise find. What you may not know is that EBay has a branch of their company called So what is It is similiar to EBay, but instead of bidding, you just list your price for books, cd's, games, and gaming systems. If you're familiar with the "Buy it Now" feature of EBay, that would be an easy comparison, all of the listings are simply at a "Buy it Now" price.

The great thing about is that you don't have to pay a listing fee (as you do on EBay). collects a small commission on all final sales, so if an item doesn't sell, you're not out any money. The trade-off is that unlike EBay, where the buyer pays you directly (through paypal, checks, etc) they submit payment directly to The website pays you (via paypal) 2 times a month, so you won't get your payment right away.

So why am I talking about Well they happen to be a big draw for college text books. People all over the country list their books online & sell to other people all over the country. I recommend if you are purchasing books to check out their website and compare the pricing to that of the local campus bookstore. Depending on the book, it might or might not give you some significant savings. And once the semester is over, a few weeks before classes resume, you can list your textbooks on the website for sale.

Just this week, I listed 5 textbooks of mine & my roomies on and in 3 days, I had sold all the books. The combined profit? About $350 - if we would have returned these books to the school bookstore, we probably would have recieved about $60.

Now I know that many of my readers may not be in school themselves, but many of you probably know people going to school, or kids getting ready to start college, etc - So pass this helpful information along to them. College is expensive enough, it's great when you can actually save a few dollars!

1 comment:

thisjustin said...

I always use to combat the ever rising price of textbooks. They are a textbook search engine that searches all the online textbook retailers and rental sites to find you the best prices. It's pretty cool actually.