So you’ve finished university, either for the summer or for good, and you’ve got a whole three months of idyllic time off to look forward to. The only problem is you’ve got no money to go out and enjoy yourself. Sell your textbooks and you can make some cash back!
It’s win-win for everyone! You get rid of books you don’t need, and someone else gets their core texts for a reasonable price.
Read on to find out on the steps you need to take…
- Are my books in a saleable condition?
- Sell your textbooks online
- Where else can you sell your textbooks?
Generally speaking, wear and tear is not the best selling point. But your books may still be worth something even if they’re a bit tatty.
Condition categories (as described on ebay)
- new (never used)
- like new (used, but you’d barely notice it)
- very good (some average wear and tear, but completely useable)
- good (one or two instances of heavy wear and tear, but the text is still completely legible)
- average (frequent wear and tear throughout the book, but still completely legible)
Remember you almost certainly won’t be able to resell books with missing pages, or that are falling apart.
While some buyers may be happy to accept books overflowing with genius annotations, online retailers view them as damaged. It’s therefore important to check with your customer what their expectations are. Sometimes a few helpful notes scribbled in the margins are exactly what a fellow student is looking for.
Even if your books are not in the best condition, don’t give up hope because some may be even more valuable than those that look brand new. This is because some obscure volumes could be out of print, making your copy a rare treasure.
But if you’re still at university, make sure that you cross-reference your bookshelf with your future reading lists, as you don’t want to be getting rid of something you might actually need in the coming year.
With courses such as computer science, it also pays to remember that textbooks often need to be updated very regularly. This means that you might have a limited window in which to make your money: The longer you leave it, the more outdated your book will become and the more it will depreciate in value.
eBay and Amazon are classics when it comes to marketplace selling, and although they’re extremely popular and so stand to get you a speedy sale, they do come with some hidden costs when you sell your textbooks.
- Think about how many books you want to sell at one time. Newer eBayers may be limited to just 10 at a time. Check your account status and contact customer service if you still need to check.
- eBay now offers up to 12 photos for free.
- eBay takes 10% of your total sale.
- Payment via PayPal also costs you 20p per transaction and 3.4% of the total sale price (or 3.9% for international transactions).
If you sell your textbooks on Amazon, they also sneak some small charges into the deal:
- A 75p fee on each book you sell.
- A “referral fee” which is 15% of your sale item.
- A “closing fee” which can range from £0.43 to £1.32.
While Amazon do contribute £2.80 towards your postage, there’s a maximum amount of £3.25 that you can charge for delivery, and this means that you will have to foot the bill for the heavier items. Amazon is therefore best used when trying to get rid of a load of slimmer volumes. Books of 300 or more pages can cost you as much as £7.50 to post.
Whilst eBay and Amazon allow you to set your own price for your books, you have to be realistic about how much you can make. Factor in the extra costs of commission, add-on charges, and postage.
Starting prices vary dramatically from £0.01 to £20.00 for a second-hand book, and it’s safe to say that you will make some money, but not enough to make a profit.
batch book buyers
Other sites such as Ziffit.com seem to be more tailored to students’ needs. These simple steps enable you to sell your textbooks for cash:
1: Find the ISBN number on the back of the book and enter it into the online evaluator.
2: Compare the amount offered with other online buyers.
3: Continue to the checkout and select which payment method you’d prefer.
4: Print off your pre-paid postage label that will be emailed to you and send off your package.
5: Wait five working days for the money to be put into your account.
Online book buyers don’t necessarily offer a better deal than Amazon or eBay, but they do save you from the extra costs of delivery and commission charges. They’re also easy and efficient, and so save you time, which can be more valuable than money.
be careful with online sellers
It’s important to be careful however, as student-targeted sites often give you quotes that don’t reflect the book’s worth. For example, Hodder sells new OCR History A-Level textbooks at £15.99, while WeBuyBooks only offers £4.09 for them. Sociology by Anthony Giddens, a 1,000 page textbook used for degree-level social sciences, retails at £29.99, and AbeBooks set the selling price at £2.87!
Theology students might be familiar with Kelly’s Early Christian Doctrines which, at 499 pages, sells at most academic book shops for £31.99. Below we have compared offers from top online dealers:
- Ziffit – £3.53
- FatBrain – £6.35
- WeBuyBooks – £3.31
- UniList – £11.50
- AbeBooks – Not currently buying this title.
Make use of your university department to advertise your books, and stick up messages on lecture noticeboards where you’re allowed. This can be the perfect place to attract ill-prepared students. They’ll probably accept your books for a fair price and you won’t need to post them.
Fellow students may even pay more for books in a less than perfect condition if they have helpful annotations.
You’ll also save on advertising costs, as you’ll be allowed to display posters for free and your university printing allowance may even cover your expense! Even though it can be hard work, it can pay dividends as there’s nothing like buying from fellow students to give people confidence in your items.
As soon as sixth form students accept their university offer, they’re usually added to official and non-official Facebook groups. These give you a great forum for book sales. As a second- or third-year student, you’re also in a great position to offer advice. This means that your used book could be exactly what a first-year student is looking for.
Facebook also has generalised groups set up to sell books, such as “The BIG Uni Book Selling Page” and “Uni Books Page Buy and Sell Preston”. These can be a great place to find people in your area who want to buy your books, although you have to be careful as Facebook does not offer protection from scammers.
Also, make sure that the group you join is based in the UK. Otherwise, you could find yourself committing to a sale in Australia that costs you money!
Have you made money selling your textbooks? Or can you think of another way that university students can make money for summer? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
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