When selling your used textbooks, online venues like eBay and Craigslist cast a wide net, but sometimes it can pay to narrow your focus. You already know where to find people who will also need the same textbooks for the same courses: in your own neighborhood.
College towns can be a fertile environment for in-person sales, with large populations of potential customers who are guaranteed to be interested. Personal familiarity can be appealing to buyers, as well as the accessibility of being able to examine the textbooks first, and not having to wait to receive a book shipped by a relatively unknown seller. With a few basic strategies and tips for advertising and outreach, you can maximize your chances of finding buyers and making sales at good prices.
Person-to-person sales are all about putting yourself out there – you’re not just marketing your textbooks, you’re marketing yourself. People need to know who you are and what you’re selling, and that means networking.
One great starting place for finding potential buyers is in your own courses. Your fellow students could be planning on taking another course that you’re currently taking or that you’ve already completed, and many courses will still be using the same textbook in the next semester.
And if they are using an updated edition, many students will nevertheless be interested in buying the previous edition at a discounted price, as earlier editions often contain substantially the same material. Alternatively, other students may have textbooks for courses which you plan on taking, and they could be willing to arrange a trade for books of roughly equal value
Think of popular hangouts for students at your school: areas like coffee shops, bars, restaurants and other venues. Many shops with a mostly college-age clientele will have bulletin boards or other areas for the open posting of flyers or advertisements.
Pay attention to the locations receiving the most business and the bulletin boards containing the most flyers. Before posting any flyers, make sure you’ve obtained permission from the establishment.
You may also find success in placing classifieds in your official college paper or local alternative weeklies, advertising your used books. However, a single classified ad may cost more than you’d get for one of your textbooks: $50, $100, or even more. Such ads will often limit the amount of text you can include, and may only be worthwhile if you expect to resell a very large quantity of textbooks.
When crafting a flyer for your textbooks, keep in mind that most ads will get no more than a passing glance from most students. This makes it all the more important to make an immediate impact. Ensure that your message is short, simple, and stands out, offering only the necessary information.
A large and bold headline such as “Textbooks for Sale” or “Discount Textbooks” can be attention-grabbing, as well as photos of your books.
Students may more easily recognize the cover of the book that they’re looking for, instead of having to read through a listing to find the title they need. Make sure to include details on the book you’re selling, including the title, edition, year, condition of the book, and whether any of its bonus materials such as CDs are included.
When picking a price, you may first want to visit your college bookstore to check their sales prices for the same used books, as well as any other local bookstores selling textbooks. By offering a slightly lower price for your own books, they’ll be more appealing to buyers looking for a good deal. You can even highlight these price differences on your flyer, showing potential buyers how much money they’ll be saving. If you’re open to negotiating and are more focused on selling your books at any price, adding “or best offer” to the price list may encourage buyers.
Be sure to list your name, phone number, email address, and other contact information on the flyer, including several tear-off strips along the bottom edge with this information. Before printing and posting your flyers, proofread them thoroughly to check for misspellings and other errors, particularly in the contact information.
Other spots, such as lampposts on popular street corners, may also reach your audience effectively. Remember to respect others’ space on bulletin boards: avoid overlapping their posters, and take down your old flyers after you’re done selling your books.
Many universities have unofficial Facebook groups arranged by students to advertise which textbooks they’d like to sell or buy. These groups can contain hundreds or thousands of students at your school, with many interested buyers for almost any textbook.
Roommates, friends, and family members may also be taking courses which use your textbooks, or they may know someone who plans to take the same courses. By reaching as far into your personal networks as possible, you increase your chances of finding people who will need your textbooks.