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Textbook Buybacks
(Continued from 2)

What’s the Catch?

Going online to sell textbooks is a real win/win situation for students. Buyers get a better price and sellers get a better return. Participating companies get some return of course, but the amount is not excessive. With indirect sales, the online company has to find a buyer to move the book so the cut is larger for the company. With direct selling, the company takes a small cut (around 15%) for offering space to market the text and for collecting payment.

The real downside to selling used texts online is that textbook writers, production companies, and college stores do not reap a profit. Overall, prices for texts continue to go up when writers, producers, and distributors do not benefit from online sales of used texts. When hard copy products don’t pay at the base level, then fewer members of the academic and associated communities participate to provide content, and the books produced go up in price.

Perhaps we’ve moved beyond hard copy in the world of academia. It’s cheaper, faster, and more content-specific to provide online text content. In the meantime, it does make sense for students to both buy and sell online.

Are You Ready to Sell Your Texts?

If you’re sold on the idea of selling your texts online, then be aware that selling online involves being reasonable and responsible.

First, you need to evaluate your books. In most cases, books do check in as used. If you opened and read the book, then it’s used. If you broke the seal of the CD in the back, then the book is used. If you lost the CD, then the book is toast. Don’t try to sell incomplete packages.

Then you need to access the used condition of the text. If you have water damage, missing pages, missing or torn covers, then you really don’t have a product to sell. The key question to ask is: Would I buy this book if I walked in the bookstore and looked at it?

If the book is in decent condition, then it will probably move. Even older versions of texts sell if you have the time to wait for a buyer to find your copy. High demand books may sell within an hour or so. Others may take a day or two. Many are snapped up within the first few weeks. Harder-to-sell books take longer, but most do find a home.

Should I Sell to the Company or Directly to a Buyer?

In some cases (especially with older texts), you don’t have an option. Online companies may not be willing to take a book and then wait for a buyer. In cases where you can’t get an offer from an online company, you’ll need to go direct if you want a return.

In most cases when you’re selling recent texts, you can find an indirect buyer. If you need cash fast or if you aren’t good on follow-up, then you may want to pack and mail to the vendor. Let them find a buyer. If you aren’t in a big rush, and you don’t mind spending a little bit of time taking care of business, then it does pay off to sell direct. My estimate is that you will, in fact, get double for most books.

Here are some questions to ask if you’re not sure which route to go . . ..

  • Can I wait for the money?
  • Do I have space to store books?
  • Do I check my e-mail often?
  • Can I pack and ship fast (usually within 24 hours)?
  • Can I handle being rated online by others?

If you answered No to questions, then you may want to sell to a vendor and cash in. If you answered Yes, then you will probably work out well as an online seller and make a better profit.


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