BooksRun on How to Make Money with Used Books

book with coffee on the bed

It’s a known fact that for the past decades the price of textbooks has increased at a drastic rate. New editions of textbooks are made every year, rendering the old ones, in most cases, useless, and students have no choice but to purchase the new ones. Thanks to the Internet, students have been able to find a way to cope with the increasing prices. A helpful factor is the emergence of websites and bookstores that give students the opportunity to rent books for a given period of time. They can also search through the web for used textbooks or ebooks which come at prices way cheaper than the original new ones in paper form.

How did it all start? 

Chinese book with flowers

The deal with textbooks wasn’t always like this. The major upward shift in the price of textbooks was said to have occurred in the mid-1970s when their demand was at its utmost. Textbook publishers of that era didn’t have it easy, as the need to standardize the curriculum as well as make things easier for students led to the significant increase in the demand for textbooks. And to top it off, their marginal profit from the production was less than 25%.

But then the publishers devised a scheme for the sole purpose of raising their marginal bargain – to increase the prices of textbooks and release new editions every year. Since textbooks are a requirement in almost every university, students will be forced to buy them or rent the newest, and thus most expensive, editions. So why do textbook publishers charge over-the-top and extortionate amounts for their textbooks? Well, this is simply because they can, and chose to use this tactic for their personal gain. One thing to consider is the fact that there aren’t a lot of textbook publishers in the market, so it’s safe to say there’s no competition whatsoever. Students are also an easy target and a captive audience; it’s very easy to get to them.

As time went on, textbook publishers devised other tactics that let them get away with their pricing racket. One of them which was manipulating professors into acknowledging their books. Professors often don’t care about the cost of the books they recommend to students – after all, they’re not the ones who have to pay for them. Academic publishers advertise their books to professors by sending them free sample copies of textbooks. They tell them to include their books in the curriculum, assuring them that it contains the most up-to-date materials for the course that the professors teach.

Meanwhile, the true intention of the publishers is to increase the price of the textbook once it has been deemed a requirement by the professor for the course. And once a publisher has convinced a professor to teach from their textbook, they automatically gain a captive market. Sometimes they even go as far as contacting professors in order to persuade them into writing their own books; for it’s widely known that the royalties from writing a widely used book are immense.

Is it pointless to fight the textbook pricing racket?

a lot of books in the library

As a way to battle the outrageous prices of textbooks, college students adopted a different, smarter approach of buying used/second-hand textbooks or renting them for a short period of time. With the help of the Internet, students were able to track down rental shops from far away, websites that sold used books in good conditions, sometimes even digital versions of the books they were looking for. By doing so, they were able to save a few dollars and in some cases, didn’t have to overstep what they had bargained for on textbooks.

Sadly, publishers were able to come up with a way to prevent students from purchasing books at lower prices. Have you ever wondered why, for example, do textbooks have new editions that come up almost every year? In most cases, this isn’t due to the fact that the author came across new, updated knowledge or information that he felt needed to be integrated into a book. They do this in order to limit the second-hand market in textbooks because that way, students won’t see the point in purchasing the old ones when there’s an updated version of these textbooks.

It would seem as though textbook publishers have extensive and manipulative control over the price-insensitive textbook market. Can anyone really put a stop to their outrageous pricing of textbooks? Some professors who considered the matter very deeply choose to help their students by supplying photocopied excerpts of reading material (which copyright law permits them to use under the fair use for education purposes) instead of the actual textbooks. Although studying with a stack of photocopied papers seems a tad uncomfortable, this method was able to save students a lot of money.

How To Make Money Selling Used Textbooks

Now that you are aware why as a student you have to deal with ever rising prices on textbooks, and since you are familiar with the ways to become a used book hunter described in our previous article, we can proceed to discuss ways to make a profit out of all those books that you have hunted, purchased and found previously. 

Before beginning, you must understand why people buy used books. The four most common reasons are:

  • To save money; as a used book can be bought for less than half the price of a new one.
  • To protect the environment: Buying used books means that they’ll not be disposed in landfills and is also a good way to recycle resources.
  • As an investment: Books get old and damaged, after years there might not be many copies left, people can make money here by selling the books they have been holding onto for all this time as a collector’s item.
  • To own a rare/out of print book: Not all books stay in print for a long duration, some are no longer on sale. Buying such a book might interest certain specialists.

Understand the value

After a few weeks of book hunting, you’ll understand that not every book has value. More often than not, what is garbage for someone else is garbage for you as well. So instead of wasting money buying every book that you can find for a cheap price, you must identify what kind of books sell the most.

For example, textbooks retain their value for a longer duration, and if it’s a recent edition you can make a profit of over $100 a piece and still be in the market.  The best way to buy these is from students, most of them are more than happy to get rid of the stockpiles they’ve collected over the year and will gladly accept the lowest offer that you make. Other ways to get these include library sales and buying them directly from schools and colleges towards the end of the year.

Another thing to bear in mind is the age of the said book. Books published in the last 10 years usually have a higher resale value compared to older books. Remember, not everything old is actually gold.

Bestsellers usually offer lower margins, as there are too many copies of those in circulation, hence you’ll have to sell a lot of these at a competitive price to make a profit. This is not everyone’s piece of cake and should be avoided.

The same goes for the first edition, although tempting, these books hardly have any buyers. This mostly happens because no one at first expects their books to garner popularity, and as such these editions are less refined compared with the subsequent ones. You would be lucky to sell them for the same price as a later edition, but do not expect anything else.

On the other hand, weird, esoteric books usually have a higher return on investment, as there are not many of those in circulation. But you have to make sure not to buy them in larger quantities as they are not read by many.

General Selling Hacks for Used Books

If you want to sell your used textbook, you should list a book for sale just by entering its ISBN.  That’s where the easy part ends. Now if you are creating a listing, you’ll need to describe the book in detail. That includes writing about the edition, any damages that the book has, something unique about it (maybe it is a signed copy). This helps buyers understand clearly what you have to offer and will reduce the chances of a dispute.

Another thing is pricing: the best policy is to scan through other listings of the same book, compare the prices, and the number of copies sold to figure out the right asking price. It is also a good practice to keep checking for any fluctuation in prices from other sellers, as this happens often.

One more thing to keep in mind is sales rank of books; some books are sold easily but with lower margins whereas some other books might not be sold for over a month but can be sold for a higher price. Do not keep a lot of books that take longer to be sold, as it will occupy space that could have been used for storing many more books during that period.

In the end, it all comes down to identifying the right books. There are books out there which you can buy for a few cents and sell for over $50. But the catch here is not to go on a quest for rare books. A lot of books that are still in print have a high resale value, and that’s what you need to find.

Best Time To Sell Your Textbooks

As a regular student most of the time you are in the position when you need money to cover up your running costs at the college or to save up some money for vacation travelling. One of the simplest options to earn extra cash available to you as a student is to sell your textbooks to marketplaces and buyback companies. Now it is quite a popular service and a lot of students have heard about it. 

The next question is how to make the most money on selling these textbooks? Believe it or not, but your sale proceeds depend on good timing! Buyback quotes of textbooks fluctuate a lot when comparing those during different seasons, months, and even a couple of weeks apart. If the supply is too high and used textbooks market is flooded by them in a matter of days, obviously, the prices will fall swiftly, and you won’t get too much.  This means that in order to get the most of this opportunity, you have to sell when the demand is high and buyers are willing to pay their money. The guide below is designed to help you find the best time to sell textbooks and beware of the worst. 

  • Best Time To Sell Your Textbooks

The highest demand for books usually tends to be right before the start of the academic year. Summer is the time when you can make the most profit on selling your textbooks. It is the time when textbook companies are stocking up for the new academic year and students are looking for used textbooks to avoid paying the whole price for a new version. July and August are particularly great months to sell because it is the time right before the beginning of the first semester when students will start following the course and will definitely need to have a copy of a textbook at hands. In terms of winter, the best sales month will be January. It is right before the 2nd semester begins so the companies, as well as students, will be looking for textbooks.

  • Bad Timing To Sell Your Textbooks

If you decide to sell your textbooks at the time of final examinations, then you should not expect to earn much. The truth is that you will not be the only one out there trying to get rid of old textbooks. It is the time when everyone finishes their academic year: once the classes are over, there will be a whole load of textbooks available for purchase. In this case, your textbooks’ prices will be competing with others and in order to attract the customer, you will have to reduce the price significantly. Otherwise, there is a high chance that you will not be able to sell them at all! If you wait until the flood of books is over and the demand is high again, you will receive more money. 

The beginning of the semester is not the best time to sell your books either. It is the time when most students have already purchased their books and the demand for books will be really low. The companies will not be interested to buy your books at this time for the same reason: they understand very well that most students will have stopped looking for books by this time.

If you attempt to sell your textbooks halfway through the semester, you should not expect a lot either. The explanation is simple: 6 weeks into the semester there will be no one buying a book for the remaining month of studies.  

  • How to Check Demand for Your Textbook

If you are not sure whether the demand for the book you are willing to sell is high or low, you can use the website BooksRun to check if there is a demand for your book. If you think that the offered price is lower than you think the book should be worth or if the book is not even indicated for buyback options, then it means that the demand is low at this particular moment. 

BooksRun search is very easy to use:

  • You type in the search row the name of the textbook or its ISBN number (the number under the barcode)
  • If the book is in demand, you will see that there is a green button “Sell” on the right side of the page.
  • You press this green button “Sell”.
  • Below the image of the book you would like to sell, you will see the price that BooksRun can pay for this book.
  • Make sure you pay attention to the two options associated with the sale of your used book: if you have several books (who knows, maybe you decided to sell some of your friends’ books as well), then you should select the correct number of copies.
  • The most important though is to indicate in what condition you are selling your book and you need to be critical and honest about it. You can select between the following options:
    • Used – very good
    • Used – acceptable
    • New

The better is the condition of your book, the higher the sum of money you will be able to get for it at the end. If you mark that your book is new but in reality, there are pencil writings inside and the text is underlined, your book’s condition will be marked as “Used  – acceptable” and you will receive less money than it was indicated to you at the time of sale to BooksRun

Therefore, if you keep in mind the hints we have outlined above, then you can easily double the money by selling your textbooks at good times! By checking the demand for the book you want to sell, you will maximise your chances of making the best deal!

Selling Loose Leaf Editions

The following information might be extremely useful for students who are willing to get back some money they have spent on their college textbooks. You probably already know that many textbooks are currently sold in a loose-leaf, or “binder ready” format (which is also sometimes called a la Carte since they may be printed on demand by the publisher).

If a book is a loose-leaf, this means that it does not have a traditional binding like a hardcover or a paperback: basically, a loose-leaf edition is just a stack of pages which may be three-hole-punched so that they could be held together by a binder. Loose-leaf editions have their advantages and disadvantages comparing to other editions, and you might want to consider them before purchasing such a book:


1. They are usually cheaper than hardcovers, and no wonder: a simple stack of paper is much easier to produce.

2. You can take out one chapter and bring it with you: no need to carry a whole thousand-page volume everywhere.


1. Many a la Carte editions cannot be sold back since they do not have their own ISBN, or there is low demand for used loose-leaf books in general.

2. You can damage or misplace pages of a loose-leaf textbook much easier than when dealing with a regular book.

3. Pages may be not coated for durability.

4. It would not look nice on your shelf after you finish the course if you plan on keeping your textbooks.

It is generally up to you: whether you plan on buying an expensive hardcover and attempting to sell it back later or purchasing a loose-leaf version which might not be eligible for sellback afterwards. However, in some cases, they can still be sold on go and check your books now on our website!

Before you sell back your loose-leaf book:

  • Check the ISBN carefully. Make sure that the description of the cover states “Loose leaf” when you input the ISBN into the search field, otherwise you might end up not getting paid if you quote a hardcover edition and send out a loose-leaf. Check the copyright page to find the correct ISBN of your edition. Note: some a la Carte books are not eligible for resale as they do not have their own ISBN.
  • Check the access code. The ISBN may correspond to a bundle which includes a book and an access code. If you plan on selling your loose-leaf book, this might be a problem. Such books are usually shrink-wrapped, and access codes may be printed on one of the pages and be visible if you remove the original plastic wrap and open the book. In such cases, even if you have not used the code, it would still count as used since it is visible. If the description of the item includes such comments as “with supplementary materials” or “with access code”, then the book should be in original packaging and access code should not be visible for the item to qualify for the buyback.
  • Make sure that all pages are included. Loose-leaf books which are missing original cover, chapters or exercises are not acceptable for the buyback.
  • All the pages should be in the correct order. If the book arrives with pages scattered around the box, it will not be accepted for the buyback. We would recommend to safely wrap the book in plastic to secure it from water damage and prevent pages from mixing. If you choose to send the book in a binder, please be reminded that the binders are not returned.

Keep Calm and Sell Back Your Textbooks with BooksRun!

Now that you understand how and when to sell your used textbooks, let us demonstrate you, our dear users and followers of our services, how BooksRun is always here to let you earn extra cash when selling all those used books that you have accumulated over the years. Today when the education fees and book prices are incredibly high and are continuing to rise with time, our service will let you study at a cheaper price as well as will let you earn extra money once you finish your courses! We always do our best to simplify your life and make your selling experience enjoyable! We offer one of the best quotes on used textbooks on the market! Check our app, programs and instruments that guarantee our customers user-friendly experience at every stage of the used books selling process!

  • BooksRun Barcode Scanner Apps for Android and iPhone 

Tired of manually typing the ISBNs? Don’t have access to a computer? Wanna know the BooksRun buyback price of a textbook in front of you right now?
Quote your books with our new free barcode scanner – now you can create your buyback orders on from anywhere you want!
Our app is available on both Android and iOS devices. 

It’s extremely easy to use – simply load the app and follow these steps: 

  • Scan book’s barcode with your smartphone’s camera (or type the ISBN into the field)
  • Get instant buyback quotes and add them to your order
  • Click on the item to change quantity and condition
  • Checkout using your BooksRun account or by creating a new account
  • Choose your method of payment by check or PayPal
  • Sell your books!

Afterwards, you just need to access a printer, print a free shipping label, and drop your package at the nearest post office. You will get paid by check or PayPal within 2 business days after order processing.

Now you may think, why download the BooksRun App for Android or iPhone?

First, it’s a great chance for college students and graduates: you can quickly sell the textbooks you don’t need any more and get paid in cash. Also, it’s very useful for book scouting as you can instantly quote multiple ISBNs with our barcode scanner in a matter of a few seconds. There are no other requirements except having a smartphone with a camera and a working connection to the internet. No payment for downloads or use included!

If you still have some questions on using BooksRun Barcode scanner app, you can always contact our support and ask any questions on!

  • BooksRun Loyalty Program


We live in a time when forests disappearing in a week and floods destroying towns and villages become the norm of our life. Here at BooksRun, we care about our planet and we want to make sure that we pass our planet to our grandchildren in a decent state. Bearing this in mind, we launched our BooksRun Loyalty program to support you, our dear readers, in going green since buying, renting or selling used books is a way to minimize the deforestation and carbon footprint. Below you will find information on how to earn points and what you will get if you sign up for our Let’s Go Green Together Initiative.

We offer you a win-win situation: you are not only saving money on books but also saving our planet! And this is without any extra efforts on your side. For every $ you spend or earn by using BooksRun services, you receive 2 points that are accumulated in your BooksRun Loyalty account. We would like to mention that this program has been developed only for printed books, there will be no points awarded for eBooks.

It is a free program which lets you collect points and pay for rewards from our eco-friendly Rewards Section. From a reusable sandwich wrap and flatwater bottle to a portable solar power bank, our selection range will satisfy all tastes and interests!

We collaborate with ONETREEPLANTED organization and we have also developed a way how you can participate directly in increasing the number of trees planted every day! Once you have earned your BooksRun points, you can donate them to our partner organization by choosing to plant 5, 10 or 15 trees on our BooksRun website. It is a great way to ensure that you will have the opportunity to enjoy your day in the forest in 20 years time!

We would like to mention other details about our BooksRun Loyalty Program.

  • You can start participating in this program from the age of 18. You can participate as an individual, but industry professionals such as books marketplaces, bulk buyers and bulk sellers, as well as anyone affiliated with a company or school in the industry, cannot join BooksRun Loyalty program.
  • Start earning your points as soon as you sign up for the Loyalty Program. In case you earned your points through a buyback order, the points might be listed under the “Points Available Soon” section and will be available for redemption once your order has been purchased. Once this happens, the points will be moved to the section “My Points” and available for redemption. Points earned on Buy/Rent orders will appear in your account within an hour.
  • It is our new initiative so you can start earning points on orders placed from October 29th2018. The program is not applicable to orders placed before this date.
  • There is a limit of 1000 points you can earn per month.
  • Rewards points are valid for redemption within 6 months from the payment date. So you need to make sure you use points within this timeframe.
  • You can check the number of available points once you log into the BooksRun Loyalty Program account as a registered user.

If you still have questions about our program, please check our FAQ questions here or you can always send us an email to Join our Loyalty program here and start getting even greener and saving even more money today!

  • BooksRun’s unique offer for Brooklyn locals acknowledges the power in community building and takes steps to make students aware of the opportunity to earn extra money when selling their used textbooks to BooksRun! This is exactly what we did around Brooklyn College when we offered BooksRun Coupon Codes to some lucky students so that they could sell their textbooks for 10% more on our website! Don’t worry, if you missed these BooksRun promo codes, you can simply have your books quoted on our website, bring them to our store, and receive extra cash when selling them. We have great prices for online deals, but our local prices are even better! store is located in a very convenient place only six minutes away on foot from Flatbush Ave. – Brooklyn College subway station, so it is easily accessible both by car and public transport. Feel free to visit our store in order to buy or rent college textbooks at affordable prices, or sell them back and get money! We are open Monday to Friday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. 

If you don’t live nearby, just check out our website and see that our prices are still the best on the market! BooksRun Customer Reviews do not lie – our prices are surely better than most campus bookstores.