Textbook Shopping and Selling Hacks Every Student Should Know

Textbook shopping: it’s the most wonderful time of the year for college students after Christmas. And by the most wonderful time of the year, I mean stressful time of the year. Everyone knows that college students don’t have a ton of cash, and buying books can really break the bank. I like to think of myself as a savvy shopper, so I have picked up a few tricks that I am sharing today to help you save a lot of cash when buying books for school. Happy shopping!

  1. Make a spreadsheet- Spreadsheets are the easiest way to see all of the books you need and the retailers you are considering buying from. I can compare prices from website to website and can decide if I should buy or rent a book.
  2. List all the books you’ll need and some book buying sites- When listing the book, make sure to include the ISBN number. Textbook editions change, so your professor may or may not require you to have the most current edition of a book. Every edition of a book has a different ISBN number so make sure you have the correct one! If you can get away with having a previous edition, grab it while you can! Older edition books are usually cheaper. New versus used and buying versus renting can make a huge difference in price, so pay attention!
  3. Use a book comparison site– There are many price comparison websites for books available. I like to use Bookscouter because you can search for a book with their buy, rent, or sell search bar. Bookscouter doesn’t list every book site I like to use, but it hits a lot of sites and their marketplaces.
  4. Don’t buy from just one place- I will admit that when I needed to buy an extra book or two during the fall semester of my freshman year, I went straight to Chegg. Sure, Chegg is great, but I probably paid more than I should have for a textbook I rented. There are so many websites that sell textbooks besides Chegg and Amazon. I discovered eCampus and Textbooks.com, which I used to buy many books for this fall and I saved over $300!
  5. Search for off-line options- Some schools have textbook buying groups on Facebook where you can buy books from classmates. I have bought a few books from a friend of mine because I’m taking a class she has previously taken, so she is able to get rid of the books, and I don’t have to pay for shipping!
  6. Do some good for charity (or for yourself!) when shopping for books- If you’re shopping with Amazon, I highly recommend shopping on the AmazonSmile site, rather than the normal site. Every time you place an order on AmazonSmile, Amazon donates 0.05% of your order total to the charity of your choice! On other sites, you can use Ebates to earn cash back on tons of purchases, including textbooks! If you click the link below, you can use my referral link to join Ebates. Just a heads up: if you choose to use the link below, I will earn $5 for every referral who joins with my link. If you don’t want to use the link, that’s cool too!

Alexandra’s Ebates Referral Link

Here’s how I set up my book spreadsheet!

Now that I’ve covered the buying part, let’s get to the selling books part. Lots of sites that sell books also buy books back, like Chegg, eCampus, Textbooks.com, and Amazon. Read on for a few book buyback hacks.

  1. Use a book comparison site (again)- Like I mentioned above, use a book comparison site like Bookscouter. After you type in the ISBN number, the site will search through their partner sites to find the highest buyback price for you. Again, it doesn’t search every website so you may need to go to the site you’re interested in selling to for their buyback prices.
  2. Read the fine print- Not all buyback programs are equal, so make sure you read the fine print and details. Make sure the program provides you with a pre-paid shipping label. Some programs require that you meet a minimum quote price before they will buyback your books. For example, eCampus has a $5 minimum and Textbooks.com has a $10 minimum. Amazon and Chegg have no minimum quote. Payment is also an important thing to pay attention to when selling books. Amazon only pays in gift cards, but many other sites will pay you in a check, PayPal, or store credit. Make sure you are getting paid the way you want to be paid.

There you have it! I hope these tips are helpful for you as you embark on your book buying adventure! Are there any tips I missed? Let me know in the comments! Thanks for stopping by!

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