Selling Old Textbooks - Tips and Resources

Turning Your Old Textbooks Into Cash

Box of Textbooks
••• ericsphotography / Getty Images

If you are interested in selling your old textbooks for cash, using online resources will help you get the right price and the sale. One common error people often make is to price the book too low just to get rid of it or too high and no one buys it. Here are tips and links to help you sell your books at the right price, right time and tips on how to take care of your textbooks so you can sell them later.

Timing Is Everything

Knowing the best time to sell your textbooks online will give you the competitive edge and help you sell your books at the highest prices. Have your books ready to go and get them listed during peak buying times - August, September, January and February.

Figuring Out How to Price Your Textbooks

Search online stores that specialize in used textbooks to help decide how much money you can ask for your book. Browse your local bookstores and compare prices.

Popular Sites Offering Used Textbooks Include:

Listing Your Book to Sell Online

  • Find the ISBN number usually found on the back of the book. You will need it if you decide to list the book and it helps when you are searching websites to see how to price your book.
  • If you cannot find the ISBN number, write down the SKU number as an alternative.
  • Search online for the ISBN if you cannot find it on the book. has a good search engine that searches by title and displays the matching ISBN number.
  • Take a picture of the book so you can upload it to the site where you decide to list your book. Pictures always sell better than words and it allows potential buyers to see the condition of the book. Use a sheet as a backdrop so the picture is focused on the book you are selling and not other items lying around it.
  • If the book is rare, list it with a site such as, which specializes in rare or hard-to-find books.
  • If the book is the U.S. version, always include that in your description because often it will bring you more money.

Listing the Condition of Your Book - Honesty is the Only Policy

Below are guidelines to help you determine what best described the condition of your book.

  • Brand New, Excellent - The book looks brand-new with no wear and tear. You have all the original packaging, documentation and software.
  • Almost New, Like New - The book looks new, with no wear and tear, but you may not have the original packaging. All documentation and software is available.
  • Very Good - The book is slightly used but there is no wear and tear or damage. All documentation and software is available.
  • Good -The book is visibly used but still in presentable condition without tears or damage. Some of the documentation and software may be included.
  • Fair, Acceptable - The book shows signs of being used. Some of the pages are bent, the cover may be damaged, and there is some underlining or notes scribbled on pages. Some manuals, documentation, and software may be included.
  • Poor - The book can be read but it is worn or torn. Some pages may be heavily highlighted, the cover may be damaged, and pages may be missing. A book like this is better donated than sold.

    Shipping Options

    Students do not have much time to find the books they will need for their classes. Having the choice for fast delivery may appeal to some buyers. Note - some sites will ship free.

    Following Through With the Sale

    Once your book is sold you should stick to the agreement and mail it immediately in a tight fitting box so it will reach the buyer in the same shape that you advertised it. Going to a pack-and-ship store is worth the extra dollars if you do not have proper packaging available.

    Keeping Your Books In Sellable Shape

    • Use thin bookmarks to save your page. Bending the corners of a page will hurt the value of the book.
    • Do not write on any part of the book, make notes, or highlight marks on the pages.
    • Avoid over stacking books in your book bag. You will risk bending the cover and pages. If you must use a book bag, it will be worth it in the end to keep your expensive books in a tight-fitting box before placing them in your book bag.
      • Do not smoke or be in a room with smokers with the books. Pages in books absorb smoke and will hurt the value.
      • Do not eat while reading the book. Sticky fingerprints will hurt the value.
      • Avoid placing objects on top of the book. Covers with coffee cup rings lose value.
      • Try to resell your book as soon as possible or you risk the Professor of the course changing their course structure and replacing the textbook with another.

      Textbooks are very expensive and with careful handling you can get a portion of your money back. Using online resources, local bookstores and posting notes in student activity areas will help you turn your textbooks into cash.