Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Textbooks for the New Semester: A How to Guide

How to buy textbooks

The first week of the new semester consists of lineups, and lots of them as well as buying textbooks for all of your courses. Here are a few tips I like to follow when it comes to buying textbooks and saving money - since they are so expensive!
  • Check out the University’s main bookstore, take your schedule and find out all the textbooks you need for the semester. These are the textbooks you will actually need since most often the professors have told the university bookstore what the required books are for their courses
  • While at the bookstore, find out the editions of the books, how much they cost and figure out if there are any additional e-books or codes that you need to purchase
  • Make sure to write all of this information down somewhere, now you’re ready to check out online classifieds
  • Which classified site you use depends on your university, but these are most often the best way to get deals on textbooks
  • Make sure to get the price that you want, within reason obviously, barter negotiate a little bit with the people selling these textbooks
  • Make sure to have a lot of cash on you during the first week of school in order to pay for the textbooks you wish to purchase
  •  Find a convenient location for the both of you to meet and purchase your textbooks, it’s usually best to meet on campus

How to sell your textbooks

Another way to fund the purchase of textbooks for the current semester of school is to sell your textbooks from the previous semester. This requires a bit of time and effort but you will make a ton more money than if you were to trade them in when your university bookstores do buy backs.
Go on the most used classified site for your university and post your textbooks, make sure to provide a lot of contact information (or as much as you’re comfortable with) to make it as easy as possible for potential buyers to reach you and ask questions.
Make sure to post as much information as possible including;
·         Title of the textbook
·         Authors name
·         Edition
·         Condition of book, if there isn’t any highlighting make sure to emphasize this!
Determine a price for your textbooks based on the prices listed for similar books on the classifieds, as well as using the prices listed at your school bookstore as a guideline.
  • Price high based on the condition of your textbook and/or scarcity of similar textbooks
  • Price low to sell quickly or because the textbook isn't in great condition

If you have any questions make sure to post comments on this blog post. I will be happy to answer them to the best of my ability.

Helpful online classifieds

University of Guelph



  1. I would also add that you can try to find electronic versions of the textbooks. It may not be 100% legal, but I find it useful to have an electronic book even in addition to a printed copy.

    First of all, it's a lot lighter than a physical book. Well, a single physical book may be lighter than a laptop or a netbook, but if you have several books to carry around - pdf, djvu and other files have an advantage. Also, they are often searchable! Additionally, you can sometimes find a solutions manual that is not even offered by your bookstore, so bonus points to that.

    On a nit-picky side, you are using the word "barter" incorrectly in this post. What you meant to say, I guess, was "haggle" or "negotiate". Barter is trading goods directly for other goods, without involving money. It's unlikely you'd be able to do it with textbooks as people you buy them from are generally a step ahead of you and don't need that books you have.

  2. A reliable way to sell your textbook fast is to look up the location and time where the class using this book is held, print out a few simple ads with tear-off phone numbers and post them in the vicinity of the class shortly before it starts. Old fashioned, but highly effective. Do it for the first or second lecture for best effect. This way you get to advertise to those people who are too lazy / too busy or simply don't know of the online classifieds where textbook ads are posted.

  3. Thank you very much for the comments and different ideas on textbook selling/buying/acquiring! And yes I didn't mean barter I meant haggle/negotiate. Oops. But I have in fact had some opportunities in the past, most often with friends to trade textbook for textbook, but yes it is very rare. Thanks.