Getting the Most Bang for Your Books

By Tori Benavente in News

Towards the end of every quarter with finals week approaching, students are eager to wrap up their classes and drop the weight of their textbooks.

Clark student’s have a variety of options for selling their textbooks; understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each is essential for getting the best value for your booksIMG_0052

The Clark Bookstore holds a book buyback during the finals week of every quarter, where students trade in their books for quick-cash. Buybacks are convenient, but it is not uncommon for students to take their books elsewhere.

Students may turn to Amazon, Ebay, Craigslist or other sites to sell their textbooks. The bookstore also runs the Peer-to-Peer Exchange through their website, which allows Clark students to make arrangements to sell their textbooks to one another.

Clark student Amanda Levie has sold her textbooks to both the bookstore and online. “You get more for them online,” Levie said. She explained that in order to sell your books on Amazon you have to create an account as an “independent seller” and list the price you want for your book. The site lists books for sale by the prices—from low to high—so you have to price your book with that in mind. If you price it too high, no one is going to see it or buy it.

The Peer-to-Peer Exchange site is another option for Clark students. “It’s kind of like Craigslist; we supply the space for students to communicate and sell and buy books from each other, but we don’t have anything to do with it so far as monitoring,” said Ashley Anderson, a bookstore employee who runs the buybacks.

Students must set up a clarkbookstore.com account to list books on Peer-to-Peer, but just need the ISBN of a book to search the site, said Monica Knowles, bookstore manager.

The Peer-to-Peer Exchange can be found on the Clark Bookstore website, under “cost saving ideas.”

Katelyn McGrann is a Clark student who rids the middle-man altogether when selling her textbooks. McGrann takes it upon herself to sell or trade her books.

“Instead of using the Peer-to-Peer or selling them back to the bookstore, I usually just find students in my class that are taking the classes next, because we both get a deal,” she said. “It’s super expensive; you’re buying it for almost $100 and then you’re selling it back for like 10 bucks.”

Anderson manages the bookstore buybacks and says the amount students get per-book can be up to 40 percent of the list price. “We want to be as fair as we can,” Anderson said. She uses different modules to determine a fair price, the quantity needed and how long the book will be used in the department.

The time of year plays a role in how much students will get back for a book. Anderson points to supply-and-demand for the varying prices of the same books, “A book can be worth $5 in the off season—meaning when you guys are in the middle of a term—and then when everybody is doing buyback at the same time it can go up to $50.”

Anderson uses modules from Verba Software that compare the prices of books from different websites. This information helps set the amount students will get back for their books.

The amount students get back per-book affects the price that the bookstore lists it next quarter as a used book. The bookstore also gets used textbooks from wholesalers and online marketplaces, Anderson said. “I could get something from buyback for $20, but from a wholesaler get it for $40, and then I have to sell it for $30.”

At Clark, departments are able to create custom textbooks that save students money. The buybacks at Clark and Peer-to-Peer are the only avenue students have to selling back these custom books, Anderson said.

She says working for a state school is nice, compared to a private school. “It’s not for retail. It’s a non-profit bookstore here.” Because the bookstore is non-profit, they do not try to upsell products.

“As much as students think they’re getting ripped off, my goal is to save you guys money on books and to give you a fair price when you sell back your books,” Anderson said.

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