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The Absolute Best Time to Sell Textbooks (And the Worst Time To)

best time to sell textbooks

Two-thirds of college students can’t afford all the textbooks they need. Can you? Sometimes you can get by without having some of the required reading material.

But sometimes you can’t.

Is it worth gambling your grade away? Yes, textbooks can break any budget. But if you know how to sell textbooks for the best price, you can get a significant portion of your money back.

This effectively lowers the actual price of your textbooks. In fact, buying your textbook and selling it later on can be cheaper than renting. Your textbooks may be more affordable than you first thought.

So what’s the secret? There’s an art to buying and selling college textbooks. We’ll cover the best time to sell textbooks, as well as some other factors that influence the price.

When is the Best Time to Sell Textbooks?

Even the college textbook industry bows to supply and demand. The best time to sell textbooks online or at the bookstore is when people need them most. For traditional colleges, textbooks are worth more at the beginning and end of school semesters.

The highest demand occurs right before the fall semester. This is when students get financial aid, so more are able to afford their college textbooks. The fall semester also has more students than in the spring semester.

For these two reasons, textbook prices spike. That’s why resellers will offer you more money for your old college textbooks.

But it’s not just the fall semester. The spring semester, while less populated, is still a great time to sell textbooks. You’ll get slightly less than fall semester prices, but the difference is negligible.

In short, you should look to sell your textbooks in July or August for the best prices. But the beginning of January isn’t bad, either.

If you’re really impatient, you can also consider selling your books right after the spring semester. Summer courses are still a thing, although few students take them. During this time, bookstores are also looking to replenish their stocks before the boom of a new college year.

What’s the Worst Time to Sell Textbooks?

So, you completed your final exam. Seems like a great time to sell your textbook, right? Mentally, sure.

But financially, it’s the worst time.

This is when most people decide to get rid of their college textbooks. Since there is an influx of supply, resellers will offer low buyback prices. There are many textbooks to choose from, so you have competition when it comes to selling your specific book.

You also shouldn’t sell textbooks when courses are in full swing. Some people will shift classes around. Others will wait a few weeks before they buy their textbooks.

But after four weeks, most people have what they need. Few students, if any, will buy textbooks during this time. Since nobody needs them, resellers don’t want them either.

How to Sell College Textbooks for the Best Price

Textbook prices have risen over 1,000 percent in the last forty years. You paid an arm and a leg for your school materials. Selling your books for the best price can help offset these costs.

Yes, timing is important. But it’s not the only consideration. There are other ways to get even more money.

But they also require more work. Let’s take a look.

1. Talk to Your Professor

Everyone knows the feeling of buying an expensive textbook they don’t need. You can save money by asking your professor how important a book may be for a certain class. Some professors will insist you need them even when you don’t, but others will be honest.

You’ll save even more money by not buying a pointless textbook in the first place. But that’s not the only reason to talk to your professor.

College bookstores try to get information in advance for the next year. For example, they’ll talk to professors to see if they’ll continue using the current textbook. Ask your professor if the course textbooks will remain in use.

If they are, then you’ll know you can sell them in the future. Otherwise, the campus bookstore may not buy them back at all. If this happens, you might want to consider buying an eTextbook.

2. Be the First to Use the Buyback Program

Near the end of the semester, your campus bookstore will start its buyback program. As you know, this isn’t the best time or place to sell your textbooks.

But maybe you’re feeling lazy. And that’s okay.

If so, use the buyback program early. Consider selling your textbooks a week or two before taking your final exams, if you can. The campus bookstore will offer better buyback prices early on until they meet their quota.

3. Know the Demand

Your college economy matters, but it’s not the only place to sell your textbooks. Maybe you have a special edition of a textbook only used for your specific course. It won’t be worth much when you sell it back since there’s very little demand.

You want a textbook used by institutions across the country. This, of course, means better prices. It’s also easier to sell college textbooks when there will be more students looking for them in the following semester.

Compare Textbook Buyback Options

Now that you know the best time to sell textbooks, you need to find the best place. Thanks to the internet, a slew of online merchants are available. But how do you find the best one?

Let us do the work for you. We compare buyback prices between many popular and niche retailers. Use our online tool and sell your textbooks for the highest price.

About the Author

Christopher Manns

I was born in the UK, grew up in Canada and have lived in the USA since the 90s. I love my family, water sports, ice hockey, skiing and soccer. When I'm not helping people save money on textbooks, I'm travelling with my wonderful family and playing sports.