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Paying for College

Get the Best Price When Selling Back Textbooks

The amount you get for your used books can vary widely. Here's how to make sure you pocket the most cash.

Most college students probably know by now that they'll likely get more money selling their used textbooks online than at the campus bookstore. However, the amount they can get online for their books can vary greatly from vendor to vendor.

A new study by textbook search engine Campus Shift found that the difference between the lowest and highest textbook buyback prices online was a whopping 355%, on average. "If you don't compare, you really could be losing a lot of money when you sell," says Jeff Lorton, vice president of marketing for Campus Shift. For example, buyback prices for a commonly used textbook -- Quantitative Analysis for Management (11th Edition) -- currently range from $4.50 to $111.50.

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But with more than 50 online textbook retailers, students could spend hours searching for the best price -- unless, that is, they use comparison sites such as Campus Shift, Bigwords.com and CampusBooks.com.

Now is a good time to sell back books online to get the highest price because the semester is ending and vendors are replenishing their inventories, says Derek Hakke, CEO of Campus Shift. Even students who still need their books for exams should go online to find the highest price and lock it in because many companies allow up to 30 days before the books must be shipped to them, Hakke says. And most provide free shipping labels.

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Campus Shift also has a textbook marketplace that students can use to buy and sell books directly to other students. Some students might find that they get better prices for their books using this marketplace.

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