Sell Used Paper Textbooks / Books

If you are anything like me, chances are good you accumulated your fair share of paper textbooks during your time in university. If you are even more like me, chances are great that you also bought more than just the minimum required text for each class.

Most of these expenses were made during the start of the semester, and in many instances, you ended up not using the textbook at or, or barely skimming through it just to get a few problem sets done. By the end of the semester it was too late to return your book for a refund. So you just kept it buried away in your closet somewhere. As the years went by, you found yourself accumulating more and more unused textbooks.

Recently, I took a look at my own bookshelf and stared in amazement at shear quantity of books I’ve amassed over the years. While some of them warranted keeping, most of them I could not justify doing so – among many reasons:

The book(s)…

Takes up valuable space
This is precious real estate I could be using to house other items, especially ones that I use on a daily, or regular basis. I don’t see the point in allocating large amounts of empty space for items that are never used, or only get looked at once in a blue moon. My rule-of-thumb is that if the book is being looked at less than twice a year, it needs to go. Otherwise it’s only being utilized as a dust magnet.

Carries resell value
Some books carry a high resell value, even after many years and are thus worth reselling (particularly those texts that have not been republished under new editions. If these are especially rare texts in hot, specialized fields, in some cases, you can even make a profit!). Still, even for texts that have been republished under newer editions and are now worth only 1/2 of their original value – unless you are using them regularly, you should sell. The money generated through sales can be used to fund more investments.

Information is free / available on the web
You should be able to replace the book and get most of what you need by utilizing other resources, particularly the internet. More and more books, documents, app notes, etc. are being published for free on the internet, and Wikipedia is always a top go-to spot for information. The site is a gold mine for information – even on topics pertaining to highly specialized fields.

You can find it at the library
If the free information online isn’t sufficient, perhaps you can borrow the book periodically when needed? Why not utilize a resource as useful as your local library? You can borrow the book for months at a time and not have to worry about some of the above problems (space, spending $$$, and having to resell, etc.).

You can replace it digitally
If you can’t find the information online, and borrowing it from the library is not a viable solution, you can still reduce the clutter and probably save some money by going digital. The popularity of e-books is soaring and any new title can easily be found in a digital format, usually at a cheaper price. Over time, shifting to a digital storage medium will also help you slowly consolidate your paper library into a non-space-evasive digital library.

Information is obsolete
So, the book takes up space and no longer contains relevant information. Definitely sell it for whatever you can get.

Join me in my quest as I work to offload hundreds of used and unused books from my library. My primary channels of selling? The well known following prime suspects:



Plus you can also try garage sales and B&M stores if you prefer selling sans the internet.

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6 years ago

Great post. What I hate is when you spend $100+ on a fairly new textbook and find that its worth nearly nothing immediately after the semester is over because the publisher decided to print a new edition with 99.9999999% of the same content.