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The Best Time to Sell Textbooks

It has become increasingly expensive over the years to get a college education, even reaching the point that it’s no longer possible to pay your way through college without some outside help. With that in mind, it’s more important than ever for students to be frugal with their money and recoup some of those expenses where they can. And while there are a variety of ways to make money in college, one of the easiest and fastest methods will always be to sell textbooks online.

But when is the best time to sell textbooks? Like most things in life, the answer comes down to supply and demand. These will fluctuate throughout the school year, so if you want to sell your textbooks for the highest price, you have to be smart about when you do it.

The Best Time to Sell Textbooks

Most students sell their textbooks at the end of each semester, but the best time to sell your textbooks is actually a month prior to the start of the semester. Leading up to the fall semester, late July and early August are the ideal times to sell your books. This is because companies know this is the last chance to acquire additional inventory prior to the start of classes. Conveniently, December is the best time to sell your books from the fall semester because spring classes generally start in mid-January.

These times are ideal for selling books because demand to buy textbooks is higher just before classes. Students are learning which books they need for each class, and textbook companies are ensuring they have enough stock to supply the high demand. In addition, many students change a class or two within the first few weeks, meaning they need to get new textbooks as well.

If neither of these times work for you and you’re looking for a third option, you could consider selling your books in May, right before the start of summer session. If you do, there are a couple things to keep in mind. First, there are far fewer students who take summer classes compared to the fall and spring, which means there won’t be as much demand for your books. Second, the period of time just before summer classes usually overlaps with the end of the spring semester. The majority of students sell their books around this time, so you will have a lot more competition to sell yours.

The Worst Time to Sell Textbooks

The worst time to sell your books is a month after the start of the fall or spring semester, in months like February, March and October. By this point, any class changes will be finalized, and students will already have everything they need for the remainder of the semester. You won’t have as much competition, but the demand won’t be high enough to sell quickly or at a great price.

Also keep in mind that the more copies of a book that are on the market, the less money you are likely to get for yours. Greater supply will give students the opportunity to negotiate on price, while companies typically offer less for a book once they have a lot in their inventory.

How to Sell Textbooks for the Highest Price

At this point you’ve learned the best times during the year to sell back textbooks, and that will be an important factor in the price you get in return, but there are a couple other things to keep in mind if you want to sell your textbooks for the most money possible:

  • Condition: Whether you sell to an individual or a company, the condition of your textbooks is going to be important. Good condition usually means that your textbook has no ripped or missing pages and is free from food/liquid damage or excessive notes/highlights. If you choose to sell to a company, also make sure you package your textbooks well to assure that they are not damaged in transit, ensuring that you get paid the price you were quoted.
  • Edition: Textbook publishers occasionally release new editions of their books with corrections and updated content. Keep this in mind as you prepare to sell your books, as new edition releases will reduce the value of old ones. If you’re selling a textbook that has other editions, make sure that you don’t wait too long to sell yours.

Think you’re ready to sell your textbooks? We’re here to help. Use our sell textbooks tool to get an idea of what they’re worth and, if the price is right, send them our way. Remember that timing is everything, so follow the advice above and you’ll be sure to get a great return on your investment. If you have any other questions, check out our FAQ page to learn more about the buyback process and how to sell your textbooks for the best price.

About the author

Alison Blankenship
Senior Marketing Manager
I graduated Cum Laude from The Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) with degrees in Marketing and Communications. I’ve been working in the textbook industry for over 10 years, and my work has been featured by College Confidential, Mercy College of Health Sciences, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Pennsylvania Tribune, Montana Technological University, Oregon Live, and other organizations.

I’m an obsessive lover of dachshunds and a passionate reader of books. I’m an avid Pinner and poster, and I’m all over our Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram and Pinterest.