Monday, August 30, 2010

Selling Last Semester's Textbooks Online

In a previous posting four years ago I discussed how the Internet was changing the college textbook market.

At the time I published that post my daughter had recently graduated from college and I estimated that I had I had paid about two-thirds less for her books by buying them online than if she had purchased them used from the bookstore.

I haven't had as much luck with my son saving on textbook costs. First of all, he hasn't been as good as my daughter was at getting the ISBN numbers for me. A big part of his problem is that the college bookstores have been using various tactics that make it difficult or impossible to obtain the ISBN numbers needed to get the exact textbook each course requires. Tactics like shrink wrapping the book with the ISBN number covered up or having students hand a list of the needed textbooks to a clerk who then retrieves them rather than allowing students access to the shelves with the books are two such tactics that make it impossible to to get the ISBN.

However, despite the problems with obtaining the information needed to accurately order books online, the cheap used textbook market on the Internet is not only still going strong but is also continuing to provide strong competition to college bookstores and textbook publishers. The competition has been so great that bookstores and publishers are being forced to discount their prices.

While I am finding it more difficult and time consuming to save money buying my son's college textbooks online, I am offsetting some of my costs by selling his textbooks from last semester online. Amazon.com, eBay and eBay's Half.com division are among the many sites that make buying and selling of used textbooks and other books easy.

The main key to successful selling is to have your books listed on a site before the start of a new semester. I put my son's most recent collection of textbooks from last semester on Half.com (a site I have been using for years to buy and sell books)a couple of days ago and have already earned $60 from the sale of three books. Prices, of course, vary greatly depending upon supply and demand but, in today's economy every little bit helps.

Half.com and similar sites are also great places to sell books other than textbooks as well as other media such as DVDs and games.

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