Textbook Buyback – Singing the Bookstore Blues


Here at MyBookBuyer.com and as current and former college students, we understand textbook buyback is a more than a fact of life; it’s a necessity for today’s students. Students just spend too much money on textbooks to not get any of it back at the end of the semester. But campus bookstores don’t make it easy, throwing one roadblock after another between students and getting a little cash for their textbooks.

College Textbook Buyback Headaches

Trying to navigate the college textbook buyback program at your campus bookstore can bring out many different emotions: frustration, disappointment, uncontrollable rage, the urge to bang your head against a hard surface repeatedly or even to just crawl into the fetal position and cry over all the money you lost on your books. At times it can seem like university bookstores set out to make selling books as difficult as possible for students.

Limited Buyback Days

A lot of schools only do textbook buyback on certain days. Of course these are at the end of the semester or quarter, at what is probably the most hectic time in a student’s schedule. Between getting in all that last-minute studying, taking finals and transitioning from school to going home or heading off on vacation, at the end of the term selling back textbooks is just about the last thing students want to have to worry about.

Even schools that don’t officially have short buyback windows on paper may still have them in practice. If you go to the University of Washington’s bookstore site, you’ll see that they proudly proclaim that “Textbook buyback is open every day at our main store in the U-District.” However, if you read on, you’ll find out that “for the best in prices” you need to come in between December 14-18. The implication being that while they technically do buyback “every day”, if you don’t come in on those certain days you can expect to get two things for your books: diddly and squat.

Other schools may not even go so far as suggest buyback days, but in reality, the end of the term is when they will be offering the best prices because they need to get stock for the upcoming semester. Oh yeah, and you’re probably still using your books until then, so it’s kind of hard to sell your textbooks when you still need to study for finals. On the other hand, the bookstore only stays open so long into the break between terms. The end result is that the end of the semester, students have a limited amount of time to sell their books, regardless of the official bookstore policy.

Long, Long Lines

Limited buyback days mean one thing for you as a student. Hugely massive hope-your-iPod-is-fully-charged crazy long lines. There’s nothing quite like standing in a gigantic line with a ton of people who would probably rather be anywhere else in the world. Of course, the best part is when, after standing in the line for hours as it stretched around the corner and halfway across campus, you finally get your turn and find our they won’t take your textbooks.

Not Buying Back Textbooks

Campus bookstores represent a small and unique kind of marketplace where the laws of supply and demand are a little funny. They only can really deal in the books that the school will be using in the upcoming term. However, that list changes constantly as different professors come and go, teaching different courses, trying new books or even just moving to newer editions of the same book. When you’re unlucky enough to be in the last term to use a certain book you are pretty much out of luck as far as textbook buyback at the bookstore goes.

Low, Low Prices

Of course, even when the bookstore does buy your textbooks, you may be shocked at just how low a price you are offered. If you think about it, the bookstore has to sell used copies of textbooks for a low price, but is still looking to make some kind of profit. So the price they will offer you is literally lower than low.

The Internet is your Friend

With all the headaches of dealing with the bookstore creates, at the end of the day you’re probably better off just going online for textbook buyback, where they buy year-round, you never have to wait in line, and you can get a free, instant quote so you know exactly how much your book is worth.