UTC Students: Don’t Fall Victim to the Textbook Buyback Scam

By: Robresha Jackson

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UTC/The Loop) – It’s that time of year again where college bookstores rip off its students with buyback rates students sell their old textbooks back to their school’s bookstore for instant cash!

There is a large outcry among college students about high textbook prices and low buyback rates

The only problem is students are barely receiving half of the money they paid for their textbooks in the beginning of the semester, causing more students to speak out.  Many feel as though they are being ripped off by the very bookstore that they paid hundreds of dollars to in exchange for required textbooks they only need for a few months.

“It’s extremely unfair, because they profit an insane amount compared to what they give you. Especially since they sell them for only about twenty or so dollars cheaper than a new book,” said Middle Tennessee State University Senior Jasmon Atkins.

 Do you think your college bookstore offers reasonable buyback rates?

Although we must keep in mind that our college bookstores are essentially businesses that need to make money, there are ways that both parties can benefit.

According to this article, textbook buyback has the potential to be a triple-win situation where students get cash for selling their books, college bookstores get in-demand used titles to put on their shelves, and future students are offered money-saving used editions during the next term. In the midst of that, it also decreases the environmental strain that additional textbook printing would cause.

There are five things that bookstores take into consideration before buying back textbooks:

  • Whether the book will be used in the following term or not
  • The condition of the book
  • Whether or not a new edition of the book will be released
  • Whether or not the book has all of its pieces (CDs, kits, etc.)
  • Enrollment numbers for a particular course in the following term

The standards of buyback rates are also noteworthy. If there is a high demand for a particular book and a student bought that book new, the bookstore guarantees them 50% of their original cost. If a book is bought used and there is a demand, the bookstore pays up to 67%. If a book is not in-demand on your campus, but is in-demand on another campus, that bookstore will pay the student up to 35% and ship that book to another university for profit.

Ultimately, it is up to the student to decide how and where they will purchase their books, but here are some tips for buying books and selling them back in hopes of at least getting half of what was paid for them:

Do your research. Before going into your school’s bookstore look online at other sites such as Amazon and Chegg to see if they are buying the books you need for a more reasonable exchange. Also keep in mind that just because a book was new when it was purchased (in your school’s bookstore) doesn’t mean that you will get more money from buyback.


Average buyback rates from online businesses

Communicate with other students. Some students sell books to friends or other peers who will be taking that class in the future. At least with that you can regulate your own prices to make some profit.

The early bird catches the worm. If you are selling your books back to your school’s bookstore, do it as early as possible! When bookstores know that a particular book will be used again, they set a quota for the amount of books they will take back so the earlier you get there, the more money you get back.

Another pearl of wisdom: Students can sell textbooks back for as much as 28% more by selling during the right months. July, August and January are the best times to sell back while April and December are the worst times.

Good luck!

For more advice on textbooks, check out the links below:

How Do Teachers Choose Textbooks: A Guide for UTC Students – Rose Street

The Budget Savvy UTC Student – Charnele Box

UTC student are going broke due to textbook prices – Taylor Ellis

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