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How to Make an Extra $600 Selling Textbooks in One Semester

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Never Buy Textbooks for Full Price

When times were starting to get tough during my student years, I turned toward something that I was knowledgeable about in order to earn some extra cash. After all, my major at the time didn’t really provide me with any real-life experience about making money. The only thing I really had a solid grasp on were ideas read out of textbooks. And that’s when the idea hit me.

If you want to resell textbooks, make sure to never buy them for full price. The only reason that I knew the true price of textbooks is because I was around them all the time. It was only natural that a rough estimate of their prices sank into my brain.

The great thing about coming up with the idea of selling textbooks is that it didn’t add any extra stress to my life. I knew that I was going to use the book anyways.

My freshman year of college consisted me of consistently buying books at the bookstore. Whether they were used or new, I always found them to be unreasonably expensive. Of course there were stores nearby with slightly cheaper alternatives, but nothing less for under the average price of $150.

Textbooks can be ridiculously expensive. Let's buy at a cheap price and make a profit.

Textbooks can be ridiculously expensive, so let’s buy at a cheap price and make a profit.

It wasn’t until after a while that it truly hit me that I didn’t have to keep buying textbooks from the place the university recommended. In fact, the bookstore was owned by university, and they’re trying to make as much money as possible.

One of the main sources I used to buy textbooks was Uloop.com. Uloop is a website that connects students who want to sell items used for college to other students and is connected with many universities throughout the US. Most of the time, you can find some pretty reasonable prices on here.

Here’s a book I just found on Uloop called Social and Personality Development.

social and personality development

The book is selling for $95, but I will gladly offer $75 and see what the seller says. Let’s say he’s willing to sell it for only $85.

This may seem expensive, but textbooks are known to have a price this high.

We notice that the condition of the book is marked as “good” with minor highlights. It’s a hardcover copy and it’s NOT international edition. Always ask the seller if it is the international edition, as their resell value is very low.

Next we want to compare other prices.

Go to www.half.com, which is a website linked to eBay that sells used media such as books and DVDs. There is only a “buy now” option on there instead of an auction, but the prices are usually very low.

If you scroll down far enough, half.com will even show you the comparison prices on eBay.

We type in the same book in their search bar and here are the results:

brand new half

For brand new, the price ranges anywhere from $154.66 to $205.00. We’re getting a much better price. Yet the book we’re buying is in good condition, so we want to company with other books that are also in the same condition to see if we can find something better.

Here’s a look at the same book listed as having a “Good” condition:

half - good condition

The books listed as good are selling for about $102, which we will come back to later. However, the cheapest price we can find is when we scroll down. We see it on eBay for $70.

ebay price

Yet the shipping is $13 dollars, making our total purchase $83.

I mention this to the seller on Uloop and show him the link. He’s willing to bring it down from $85 to $80. We make the purchase, I’m happy, he’s happy and we saved about $70 from purchasing a new book. It would have been even more expensive at the university bookstore, for around $160.

Note: I ALWAYS confirm that it’s the same ISBN number, same edition, and same version. Never buy the international version. Don’t rent a book for the semester either because you can’t make a profit; you eventually have to return it.

Keep the Book in the Same Condition

We’re going to take this class this Personality Development Course this semester, so there’s no stress about selling the textbook. I use the book for a semester, read it and make sure to keep it in pristine condition.

This means no drinking or eating near it (or trying not to) and making sure to place it nicely in my backpack. We’re going to need it when the end of the semester comes.

It’s okay if I highlight a few more things since there’s already a few more highlights, but nothing more than that. I bought the book at a “good” condition and I want to sell it at a “good” condition.

Many of my classmates which to keep their textbook because they believe they’ll use it later on after college. That’s great and everything, but the value of your textbook drops at a rapid rate due to a new version coming out every one to two years.

The best advice that I would give you is to sell your book first and buy it later when it drops in price. If you need to use the book before graduating, the school library should have a backup copy that you can look at or rent for a week.

If you want it after you graduate, more than likely a new version will have come out, dropping the price you paid for the older version by almost half.

Sell Your Book

The semester ends, and a new version of your textbook is on its way out, but still hasn’t been printed. We’re still good for making a profit.

I have a few options at this point.

1. The first one is that I can resell the book at our university bookstore. Their offering price is $55 in cash for this book, considering that it’s the same version. That’s not a horrible deal, considering we paid only $80, but we can do much better instead of losing $25 dollars.

buyback priceThe bookstore I went to almost always resold their books for more than double the price they paid for them. This means that the $55 dollar book you sold to them is now sitting on their shelves for $125 dollars. Many students will gladly pay this, instead of buying their new version for $150.

Why can’t we do the same thing?

Let me make this clear. The university bookstore is a ripoff. Never buy from there, or any other bookstore near the university. You can find it somewhere else a lot cheaper 99% of the time.

2. The second option we can take is by selling it at the same place we bought it from. We remember that from looking at half.com, we found the selling price of the same book in “Good” condition.

half - good condition

From just looking at the chart, the lowest it sells for is $102 dollars and the highest is $138.00. I could easily get it off my hands, but I want to make a profit. It looks like there aren’t many books left at that price, so I make it a little lower than the average of the lowest and the highest and put it on sale for $115.00.

One caveat of half.com is their selling policy. They’ll take a portion of your profit depending on how much you sell your book for. Any profit on a book sold for $100 – $250 dollars will be reduced by 10%. Not to mention you have to go through the trouble of shipping the product.

3. Taking 10% of my profit and doing more work doesn’t sound like much fun. We’ll have to go with the third option.

I instead posted the book back up for sale on Uloop.com for $110. Within a couple of days, I get an offer and sell the book for $110.

For doing work that I would’ve done anyways, I made a $30 dollar profit. I was taking 5 classes that semester, so I made roughly $150 after all of my books were sold.

Why I Made $600 in One Semester – Repeat the Process

You don’t have to wait until the end of the semester to resell books. I always checked Uloop and half.com for great prices even after class started.

I checked Uloop about twice a week to see if I could find any discounts and repeated the same steps above of comparing and selling . I tended to only check Uloop because the prices were normally low and I didn’t want to waste time. (I have found incredible deals on half.com, however).

The reason I made $600 is because I found an engineering student who was selling 6 of his textbooks at $25 each. I knew that engineering textbooks were always expensive, so I quickly compared prices with half.com. Most of the used books were selling for up to $100! I would hit the jackpot if I could make this purchase.

I quickly contacted him and offered to buy ALL 6 for $125 dollars, saving me another $25. He gladly accepted as he was just trying to get the books off of his hands and get some cash. This means I was really only buying the books for roughly $20.

Every, single book that I purchased from him sold for over $80 dollars to other students, giving me a minimum of $60 profit per book. This was a quick profit of $360 in my pocket.

That $360 I made plus the other occasional sales I made landed me $600 by the end of the semester. The amount of time I spent in total was about 20 hours, so I was making about $30 an hour tax-free. A lot of the work I was doing would have been done anyways, as I had to purchase books for myself.

There are other methods of generating a bigger income stream, but for a college student who didn’t have a job and needed some extra cash, this was a great gig.

The funny thing is that I loved doing it, especially the conversations I had when selling the book. Students would often ask me how the class was, and I could give them my perspectives. If I didn’t take the class, I just mentioned that I was selling the book for someone else and still had a great conversation nonetheless.

You make a profit, the student you’re selling to receives a discount and everyone is happy.

Try to do this with other products for university students. Other ways you might try to buy books at a cheap price is mention that you’re looking for books on your school bulletin board with your email posted. You’ll be sure to get a lot of replies.

testbook buyback

Any questions or comments, feel free to leave me one below! Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend.

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