A textbook is an investment, just like tuition. If you’ve been to college recently, you understand this intrinsically. Oftentimes you’re going to pay top dollar for textbooks, and let’s be honest: is it really worth it to pay $100-$200 for some professor’s two-hundred page paperback ruminations on political science? One thing is sure: it’s required in the course syllabus.
You want to get around these expenses as best you can. You’re going to pay thousands in tuition and housing. Altogether you can expect between $11k and $45k annually for a four-year college degree. Now that’s an aggregate average from across the nation; there are some colleges that are much less expensive, some which are much more expensive.
If you go to a community college located in your home state, you can likely get away with around $5k to $8k a year (tuition, fees, prospective scholarship, and housing) for your degree. You’ll have to go several, likely; a junior college and a larger institution. If you want to maximize your spending, that is. That’s about the lowest you can go, and you’ll still end up paying $20k to $32k, minimum.
When you go to a private institution, you’re easily looking at $30k+ a year. Sometimes you’ll have a mixture of the two. Imagine paying $5k for two years at a local community institution, then $60k to finish your degree. All together you’ll be looking at $70k for a four-year degree, or approximately $17.5k a year.
Now if you’ve got eight classes a semester which each require a textbook, and those textbooks average $100 to $200 per—which is a very reasonable average—you’re looking at $1,600 to $3,200 a year. Over four years, that’s $6,400 to $12,800. If you can recoup half that investment, why not?
There are several ways you can do this. You can go online to textbook sellers who spread such materials between students. It’s like buying a used car, but appreciable value may remain longer—that’s definitely a joke, but you get the idea. You could also buy your books at full price and then sell them at such sites; which will end up costing about the same.
When you’re looking to sell textbooks online, you’re going to want a site that provides a large number of potential buyers, like BookScouter.com, who can show you: “…offers from over 35 book buyback vendors with a single search.” This both allows you to find the highest payer, and gives you multiple selling options if one buyer can’t purchase your book for some reason.
You can either save as much as $3,200 to $6,400 proactively by purchasing used materials, or you can save it passively by selling that which you’ve purchased previously. Either way, not selling your textbooks is like taking a handful of hundred dollar bills and just setting them on fire. What, are you going to refer back to your notes from sociology 101 thirty years later?
Maybe you’ve got a great stick figure stop-motion animation penciled in on the pages of the book, but it’s not worth saving after the fact. Oh, also: if you do want to sell your textbooks, it’s in your best interests to take good care of them. Granted, you can still sell books highlighted and drawn upon; but not for as much.
There’s some irony here: you actually kind of want to buy the books that have been previously highlighted or drawn in. You can save a lot of study trouble that way—you’re able to look at what others knew was important in the course. What’s ultimately recommendable is buying used books from sites that sell them to multiple buyers.