Students: More Cash For Books

Are you really happy getting ten dollars back for the eighty-dollar literature text you bought just four months ago? Of course not. Here's how to get more money back for your college textbooks.

That eighty-dollar literature textbook is only worth five or ten dollars to the on-campus bookstore. You've only had it for four months; most of that time it was stuck in the bottom of your closet, being ignored in favor of other, more interesting activities. It's not like your book's beaten up, chewed up, dog-eared, stained, or otherwise ruined.

It's enough to make most students mad. But here's the good news: you can get more money from selling your textbooks if you're willing to put in just a little bit of effort.

* Sell them online. Comparison shop at the various "big bookstore" sites to see which ones will offer you the best deal. Be sure to factor in the cost of shipping. In fact, some of the best sites will give you a prepaid shipping label so that you don't have to pay a penny to send your books their way.

The advantage: you usually get more money back.

The problem:you have to wait a couple of weeks (or longer) to get it. If you aren't seriously, stony broke and in dire need of a few bucks, this is one of several ways to go.

* Take out an ad in your campus newspaper. Most colleges and universities have a "Textbooks for Sale" section in the classifieds. For just a few bucks, you can advertise all of your books in one ad - and you know that somewhere, some student will respond.

The advantage: more money, because you can set your own price. (Make it at least ten dollars below what the campus bookstore is charging.)

The problem: response time can be slow. It usually works best if you run the ad a couple of weeks before the new semester begins, and continue it through the first week of classes. That means you have to wait the entire break to sell your books (a non-option if you're in dire need of cash).

* Post fliers around your campus, with the proper approval of course. Most campuses require that any postings be approved. This is usually done through student governance (if not, they'll know where to send you for the stamp).

The advantage: more room to give details about your books. You can even compare the prices between your book and the same thing at the on-campus bookstore, which will only make yours more appealing to passers-by.

The problem: it can take awhile to move the books this way.

* Find a friend who's taking the class next semester. Friends will usually give fair prices for your books, and they'll remember you when you need a book that they own.

The advantage: you can usually sell the book right after your final exam in that class.

The problem: finding a friend with cash. He or she is probably in the same situation as you, after all.


* Use book covers. This may seem like high school all over again, but dings and dents in hardcovers aren't appealing to potential buyers. They want the book to look as new as possible, at least on the outside.

Also: be careful when studying and snacking at the same time. Chip crumbs contain grease, which will seep into the page if left in the book for too long.

* Don't forego the highlighting. Many students LOVE seeing a textbook with the key points already standing out in bright colors. The same applies for any notes that you want to make in the margins, as long as you do it faintly in pencil.

* Sell the software with the book. Many professors ignore the software, but some students actually enjoy having it on hand for reference. This is especially true if you're in a difficult class (biology or anatomy, mathematics, et cetera). You can use the software to study while you're taking the class, of course, but be sure that it goes with the book - and that the CD-ROM doesn't become scratched or dirty.

Following these tips should increas the value of your books and make you a happier student. You'll soon find that the little bit of extra effort you put into caring for and selling your books will reap some pretty decent rewards: namely, a little extra cash here and there.

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