Who: This post is for college students who are always spending a small fortune on their textbooks and want to learn ways to save. This post will also help out students who don’t actually pay for their own textbooks (hint hint, resale).
What: This post will discuss methods for saving money when purchasing textbooks and will discuss steps to earn top dollar for textbooks when you are selling them to others.

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I realize that many of my readers are college students and I have had very few posts dealing directly with problems in their everyday lives (which beer do I buy?). As such, this post will offer some tips to the college folk for one of the most expensive affairs in college life, purchasing textbooks.

  • DO NOT BUY FROM THE BOOKSTORE - This is usually some of the first advice that students are given. So, if you’re a pre-frosh or freshman, count yourself lucky because William Wallets has just saved you some dough. College bookstores by and large, have all of the textbooks that classes on campus require and are most often the closest and easiest option for making textbook purchases. This means that with virtually uncapped demand, the prices can be (and usually are) much higher than you can find elsewhere. Go to the bookstore and find the Titles, Edition #, Author, and ISBN’s for all the textbooks you need. Below, you can see a photograph of my campus bookstore manager.
My Campus Bookstore Manager
  • COMPARE PRICES - It boggles my mind that savvy students are willing to do comparison shopping for their computers, iPods and other electronics, but won’t do it for their textbooks. I wonder what mommy and daddy would say about that (hmmm). You can save extraordinary amounts of money just by comparing textbook prices online. Some of my favorite sites are: CampusI, CheapestTextbooks, AllBookStores, and Chambal. It’s ok to buy textbooks used!
  • BUY AN OLDER EDITION - Older editions will usually plummet in price as soon as a new version is released. The key is to ask someone (a professor, previous students, etc) if older editions will be acceptable for the class. Often times very little is changed between editions. but sometimes, just sometimes, an entirely new section is added and problem sets are completely changed so be careful.
  • INTERNATIONAL EDITIONS ARE YOUR FRIEND - Many $100+ textbooks come in softcover, international versions. These international versions are more or less identical to their more expensive older brothers with the exception of some lower quality print and a soft cover. The international editions are usually more than 50% less than the hardcover editions. Note: I have read that some international editions are prohibited for sale inside the United States, so if you want to play it by the book, (ha ha) you might want to find out if your specific title is restricted.
Diversity Is Your Friend
  • RESALE IS BEST ON CAMPUS - It is important to recoup costs of textbooks that you won’t need in the future, so you can buy more textbooks (or a new iPod Nano) without having to dig into your pockets again. There are many places to resell books. This may sound familiar, but do NOT go back to the campus bookstore, as they’ll usually give you a fraction of what the book is actually worth. Additionally, it’s alright to sell your books online at Amazon or Half.com, but realize that these intermediaries are taking a cut of your profits and there is a lot of competition online for sale of these textbooks that will force you to drive your prices down. The best way to sell these books is to post ads around campus or on online campus forums, letting people know you’re selling the textbooks. This works well because a) you know there will be demand for a given book, b) you’ll be able to give people insights on the utility of the textbook, and c) people are more willing to pay up and trust someone from their campus than they are to purchase from some faceless bookstore online.
  • DEMAND DICTATES PRICE - Just because you bought a textbook for $80 does not mean that you need to sell it for less than that. My little brother Billy Wallets would purchase textbooks for $50 and sell them after he used them for a semester for $60. Demand should dictate the price you sell your textbook for. If the textbook is relatively new, and there isn’t another edition schedule to make an appearance soon, then your textbook should be good for use in the following semester and maybe even the semester after that. If the class is large, many people will need the textbook. These factors drive up textbook prices, just as they would in a larger economy. Many people fall victim to the false premise that if they purchase a textbook for a given amount of money, they are obligated to sell it for less. Untrue, don’t fall for the trap. Sell the book for it’s fair market value.
Trump Agrees

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I am sure that many savvy students know most of these tips, but I hope that there were at least a few that come in handy to you scholars of academia. Remember that textbook sales on college campus’ have their own economy and they function largely in the way that other economies do. It is just a matter of finding the parameters that apply to the specific college campus that you’re on. Once you have figured this out, you can make a lot of money flipping textbooks.

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