College Textbooks: Keep, Sell, Donate?

In our previous two posts, we considered the high cost but importance of textbooks and possible ways to save money when buying them.  In this final post on the topic, we’ll consider what students can do with their books at the end of the semester.

Your college student has just completed their course.  They bought the textbook and used it diligently throughout the semester.  Now that the course is over, they’re wondering what to do with this pile of books.  There are several options.

Keep the book.

Some books contain valuable information which the student may need later.  This may be especially true if the course was in the student’s major.  Before your student gets rid of this book, they should consider whether they will need to refer to it later.  Your student might also consider whether there is another course that that will build on this information.  They may want to look back at some of this material.  Although it would be nice to get some of the money back, your student needs to be sure they won’t regret selling the book.

Sell the book to a fellow student.

If the student can find another student who may be taking the same course next term, and the same textbook and edition will be used, a direct sale will be most beneficial to both seller and buyer.  Students can negotiate what seems to be a fair price to both, which will usually be more than the bookstore will offer for the same book but less than the bookstore would sell the book for.

Swap the book with a fellow student.

If another student has a book that your student needs and they have one that the other student needs, a barter or swap may make sense.

Sell the book back to the bookstore.

Most campus bookstores have a “buyback” period at the end of the semester when they will buy back used textbooks.  Campus bookstores don’t offer students much for used books and will sometimes not buy back a book that they know will be going into a new edition (which often happens every 3-4 years).  However, because it is right on campus, this is a convenient option.

Sell the book online.

On-line services are available for buying used textbooks.  Some sites where students buy books on line are also places where students may sell their books. or both buy used books.  Sites such as will let students know how much their book is worth.  Students pack up books (the company pays the postage) and send them in and a check arrives a bit later.  The service is convenient and it may be worth the student comparing the price with the campus bookstore price.

Donate the book.

Your student might consider donating their book.  Do they know a student who will need the book and who is struggling financially?  If the buyback price is low, perhaps your student is willing to forego the option and give the book to a friend.  Or there are organizations that accept donations of books to send to students and schools that cannot afford books.

Selling books back at the end of the semester will not make a great financial dent in the cost of education, but with a bit of effort, students can make good use of their books and recoup at least some of their expenses.


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2 thoughts on “College Textbooks: Keep, Sell, Donate?”

  1. I sold my books back to Bob Buys Books on our K-State campus and they paid way more than either of our bookstores. The guy working there also said you can sell them back on their website year round! They also bought books the other bookstores wouldnt even consider buying!
    Go BOB!!!!!

  2. Another place to sell back text books is I sure wish these places were around when I was trying to sell back my books. The campus bookstore never gave back enough in my opinion, having other options would have been great! Thank for the tips!


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