Where to sell your old books online
Got loads of old uni books and textbooks gathering dust on your bookshelves? You could turn them into a tidy income – if you know how to play it right.
Credit: David Orban – Flickr
We all know how criminally expensive textbooks can be, and despite how much you think they might come in handy one day (you never know when the situation might require you busting out your first year geography textbook to explain the effects of urban sprawl, right?) let's face it – they probably never will.
The quicker you get shot of uni textbooks the better, as an added inconvenience is that the information contained in them gets outdated quickly, so get selling them while they're still relevant.
It's also likely that some bright-eyed and bushy-tailed student who's one step behind you in their course could put them to good use, and we all know you could do with the extra cash. So it's a win-win, really!
We've listed below the best places to buy and sell your uni books, as well as some guidance on what to watch out for in the book-selling game!
What’s on this page?
Credit: Tim Geers– Flickr
If you aren't already on the ball selling everything you can possibly get your hands on on eBay, now's the time to give it a whirl. They say that one man's trash is another man's treasure, and that definitely is the case on this marketplace (case in point!).
Listing your items on eBay is free as long as you only have 20 items or less listed for sale at one time. We have a whole guide dedicated to showing you how to work Ebay like a pro – make sure you check this out before you get started on selling your books!
If your books are in high demand or are out of print, you could be in for making a good chunk of money.
Make sure that you carefully select your titles and keywords to ensure your books are found by the right people. So, for example, if you're selling a book about accountancy, include words such as ‘business' and ‘finance' in your listing.
Ebay is also a great place to look if you're looking to save money buying books.
From what we've heard, WeBuyBooks.co.uk have the quickest and most efficient system going for selling your unwanted books, and as a result, customer reviews are pretty decent.
The way it works is you enter the ISBN number (normally found on the back of your book next to the bar code) into the site's search bar and will be given an instant valuation, which you can then choose to accept or reject as an offer.
Once you've entered enough products to meet the minimum value requirement of £5, you can print off the free postage label and send your books over to their warehouse free of charge. Your money should be in your account the following day!
This site is particularly interested in books on Law, Finance and Business, so if you have any of these within your collection – you could be in line for some decent cash!
Fatbrain is a really similar service to WeBuyBooks.co.uk, but they really focus on the student market.
As other students are likely to be your main market on Fatbrain, this site is ideal for selling on old textbooks.
One thing we really like about Fatbrain is their neat little app, which allows you to just scan your bar code/ISBN instead of adding it in manually… we know, it doesn't save much time, but it's just so nifty!
Another bonus point for the fact that if there's no market for the book you want to sell, Fatbrain will buy it anyway (although for pennies) and give it to charity.
It's not just Amazon themselves who sell books on the website – anyone can sign up and sell books to a market of millions of people (you instantly have access to the entire EU marketplace when you sign up, not just the UK).
If you're planning on selling no more that 35 items a month (which is likely to be the case, unless you've been hoarding your books for years!), you'll just need to sign up for a basic account – or a ‘Sell a Little' account, as Amazon calls it. Then, it's just a case of uploading the details of your books and their condition and waiting for someone to buy them.
Charges for selling books on Amazon include:
• £0.75 one-off fee on each product you sell
• 15% of sale price as a ‘referral fee'
• A ‘closing fee' of between £0.43 and £1.32
However, you do receive a ‘postal allowance' from Amazon of £2.80 (£2.30 NET) to contribute towards postal costs. Amazon deducts the above fees from this first and passes on the balance to you to go towards postage.
Note that on books, Amazon have a maximum cap of £3.25 that you can charge buyers on postage. This means that for any bigger or heavier books, you'll need to compensate for extra postage costs in the price of the item.
The great thing about selling on Amazon is that it's massively popular, so you're likely to make a sale pretty quick!
Blackwell's specialise in academic books, so it makes sense to consider them if you're selling on your old textbooks.
If you have some relatively current and still-in-use textbooks, take them down to Blackwell's when you're done and receive up to 40% of the RRP onto a Blackwell's card so you can put this towards your next batch of books. Alternatively, you can get 33% of the book's RRP onto a credit or debit card if you'd rather spend your cash elsewhere.
This is a great option as you already know exactly how much you'll receive for your books (given that they're in good condition), and there's no gamble involved.
In fact, it has over ten years of online book-selling experience, so can offer millions of titles. Abebooks works in a similar way to Amazon, but there's also the option to sell your books on to collectors or other sellers, which might be a good idea if they're particularly rare or collectors' items.
There's a £17 monthly subscription fee if you're selling less than 500 books, which could add up if you don't manage to sell all of your books quickly. On top of this, you'll pay 8% commission for every sale.
It's worth pointing out that this list certainly isn't exhaustive – there are loads of other sites out there that could get you a good deal on your old books, these are just our top picks.
The trick to this game is shopping around! We'd suggest posting your items on multiple sites to see where you get the best deal, as prices can really vary.
Although buying and selling online has become extremely popular over the years – and has fast become the most preferred way for students to flog unwanted textbooks – there are a few other methods that could be just as successful at getting you a sale.
Always worth weighing up your options, right?
Credit: KiwiPatPhooey – Flickr
If you have a look round your university, you'll probably notice that students are trying to sell their used textbooks by putting up posters on noticeboards…suppose that's why they're called ‘noticeboards' then, eh?
If you're taking a really specific course, this could be a great option, as you're advertising in a place where you know students who need your books will be hanging out.
Most of the time it's free to put up a notice, and you'll probably be able to charge a decent amount for the books (and won't have to worry about postage fees).
It's one of the easiest options too, as it just requires jotting down the titles and your contact details on a piece of paper.
Through Facebook groups
Have you ever tried typing ‘buy/sell [insert book genre or type here]' into Facebook's search bar and selecting ‘groups' from the header?
It's crazy how many different niche groups there are on there – there's even a ‘Buy/sell uni books' group! Just makes sure you type ‘UK' or your specific country, otherwise you'll be selling to students in Singapore, which will involve some pricey postage fees.
As always with selling anything in Facebook groups, there are lots of time wasters out there and there is always an element of risk involved, as you're not protected from scammers.
Therefore, Facebook is a more of a good option for localised sales – you can even offer to meet up to do the exchange in a cafe or something.
At local markets and car boot sales
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If you fancy doing it the good old-fashioned way, you could hire a stall at your local market or car boot sale. stall rental prices vary massively depending on where they are and what they specialise in, but some start at just a few pounds.
Obviously this option requires a bit of legwork – you'll have to get all your books there and hang around while customers browse, but you might hit it lucky and end up selling everything you have in less than a few hours.
Look out for markets and fairs that specialise in books, and consider paying a visit before you commit to taking a stall. Nothing wrong with a bit of market research (see what we did there)!
Some places will be more popular than others when it comes to subjects and niches, so do a bit of research to make sure that you're choosing the right option for you.
Credit: Connie Ma – Flickr
This is particularly a good option if you have quite a large collection of books, but can't be bothered with all the standing around involved in manning a stall or a car boot sale.
Many second-hand book shops will even take a trip to your house and give you a combined sum for what you're looking to sell.
They'll also sort the delivery to their shop, so this requires minimum effort from your side (although this is reflected in the amount of cash you'll get back for this method, as prices tend to be pretty low).
As with selling any items online, there are a few things worth considering before you get started that will prevent you from losing out on the cash you rightfully deserve.
Make sure you don't get stung on these!
- Whilst textbooks should bring you in a decent amount of cash, the market for second-hand chart fiction and children's books is pretty much dead. If you're selling any fiction, go for the more obscure titles in your collection, or those that are out of print.
- Note that postage can be pricey, meaning that it's possible to make very little income using sites like Amazon and eBay to sell your books. That's where newer sites like WeBuyBooks.co.uk and Fatbrain are a bit more transparent – they cover the postage costs, so the valuation they give you should be exactly the amount you'll see in your bank account (unless they decide your books aren't in good enough nick when they arrive).
- Always check which edition you have! This can be a matter of making a few quid on your book and raking in thousands!
- Shop around! It's likely that your valuations will vary widely from one site to another, and each site or selling method mentioned above has it's own perks – you just need to work out which is best suited to you and what you're selling.
- Be wary that when sending your books in to sites that will then give you a valuation before reselling, you have no control over how the books will be handled during postage. We have read some angry reviews from users claiming that their valuation was reduced substantially due to water damage that wasn't there when they posted it! Take lots of pics to show the condition of your books before you post them!
Have you made cash from selling on your used textbooks? What methods did you use, and would you recommend them to others?