Selling and Buying Textbooks Online

I’m actually surprised at how many students don’t think of this, or are unsure of how to go about it. So since I’ve been doing a lot of this, as it is almost back to school time and all, I thought I’d share how I go about buying and selling my books online.


I started doing this my freshman spring. I was slightly fed up with how much I had spent on my books from the bookstore, and then how little I got back when I turned back in like-new books. I’m not sure if someone suggested it to me, or I just decided to do it for some reason, but I haven’t turned back since.

I haven’t run any numbers or anything on it, but I usually find the money I make from selling, equals to about what I need. I only sell in the fall though, so whatever if leftover from buying fall books, goes into savings for the purchase of spring sesmster books.

Step one of this whole process if finding the books you want to sell. Gather them all up and write down the title, ISBN number (usually on the back with the barcode), and key features of the book. Is it hardback? Highlighting, bend in the cover? Many books come with  CD-ROMs that can only be used once, so note whether or not it’s there and has been used. Some books also come with online learning access, but you need a code to sign in that is one-time use, note that too.


Now go to and put in the ISBN numbers of all your books. Yes, you can do it all at once. Now, look through the listings and find listings that look a lot like the condition/description you gave of  your book. See what price range people are selling for, and then I usually pick something in the middle. So if people are selling a book for anywhere from $40-$120, I would probably pick something like $60-70. I’ve never had a problem selling any of my books, so as long as you you don’t pick something on the upper extreme, you should be fine.

Once you have done all your research, you are ready to list. Now this is where I usually hand my books over to my dad and he lists them for me. But it really cannot be that hard I’m sure. He just has a lot more experience and feedback on eBay, which is why I let him do it.

Some people say they don’t want to sell online because of how long it will take. But, it usually takes less than an hour to prep, I’m guessing it takes my dad less than an hour to list, and I usually spend an hour in total, packing and driving to the post office. Which, in my experience, could be less time than you spend in that sell-back line at the bookstore.

I refuse to buy my books at the bookstore. It such a rip-off and I usually save myself a few hundred by spending a couple hours online buying. The first thing  you need to do is go to your school’s website and look up the bookstore’s website. You should be able to search for your books list from there. Again, make note of the title and ISBN number.

I always buy from either or, usually looking up everything on both and comparing prices. Make note of the prices, condition, and cost of shipping. One note on shipping,  you can having books sent via Media Mail. Don’t fall for it! It might be cheap, but it will take forever! I usually don’t buy until a week or two before school, and it can be annoying having to wait weeks on end for a book. So either plan ahead, or only buy if another shipping method is available.


Once you’ve decided on your purchases, buy and then wait for your books to be delivered to your door! So easy! Happy selling and/or shopping and brace yourself, back to school is coming!


One thought on “Selling and Buying Textbooks Online

  1. I used to do this all the time. loved it. I’ve only had an issue once…

    I work at a college and send the book request list to the bookstore. Book reps are getting wise now to the online reselling and started doing custom bindings. They’ll put together only the chapters needed and a few extra (junk) stuff so that you HAVE to buy that stuff. Such a bummer and I hate it!

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