Textbooks are not cheap. They’re likely to be among your biggest one-off expenses that you will have before starting a new term and there will always end up being more to buy throughout the year.

One of the main (and most annoying) issues with textbooks is that they are often updated and your course may require that you need the most recent issue. If you’re looking to save money on course materials such as textbooks, you’re going to need to shop around.

That said, once you’ve finished with your course books, you shouldn’t have much trouble selling them which can often be a welcome bit of income for students who are graduating or facing into another year of study. And not to mention that buying and selling textbooks second-hand is definitely the more sustainable option than buying everything new!

Luckily, you have several options for both buying and selling textbooks for uni so let’s explore some of the best.

Online auction sites If you’re buying, eBay’s auction and “Buy it now” functions provide a good chance of picking up a bargain. As a seller you pay no fees on the first 1,000 items you upload, but eBay does take a 10% cut of every sale. The pluses are access to a broad market of buyers and an efficient sales infrastructure.

Best returns can often be made by selling several books for one course in bulk (for example, selling all the books needed for the first year of a Medicine course in a specific university).

Dedicated book buyers Sites like We Buy Books will offer you a set price for your textbook based on the edition and the strength of demand for it. You download the app to your smartphone and scan your textbook’s barcode. The app will give you an instant price.

If you’re happy then you send the book postage free and receive your funds within a couple of days. This is a fast, hassle-free solution to selling - but you will almost certainly get a lower price than if you sold yourself.

Other websites that will buy old textbooks include Fatbrain, Music Magpie and Adebooks.

Local Facebook groups Facebook now has a Marketplace function, which enables you to buy and sell your textbooks online. Looking to sell geography textbooks? Search for your university’s geography page and list your items for sale.

This will be particularly effective around the beginning of term, when freshers are moving in and hunting out their books for the coming year. The same goes with buying, just in reverse.

Amazon Marketplace When you sell your books to sites like Music Magpie, they’re usually just re-listing them on Amazon. Why not cut out the middleman? Amazon makes selling easy - simply upload the title and select your price.

If you want to sell fast you can list at a substantially lower price than other sellers. As a buyer, Amazon may not always be the cheapest option, but access to second hand book sellers means it’s always worth checking.

Yard sale Why not go old-school and host a yard sale where you can sell your books to fellow students at the end or beginning of a new term? The bonus here is that you may make some new friends and you could also use it as an opportunity to get rid of any old clothes or bric-a-brac you might have.

On a similar note, it’s worth checking your university town’s charity shops at the end of the year. There are plenty of students who just can’t be bothered with the rigmarole of selling their books and opt for an act of generosity instead!


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