Can You Make Money With Outdated Textbooks?

April 5, 2022

Selling college textbooks is kind of like selling a diamond – you pay a lot to buy them and make little when trying to sell them. The average price of a textbook is at least $80 but can cost a lot more depending on the complexity of the course. Try and sell one, and you are lucky if you can make a few bucks. But can you make money with outdated textbooks?

Yes, but with a lot of conditions involved.

How old is your outdated textbook? The older your outdated textbook is, the less likely a local college bookstore, or regular bookstore, will buy it. If the schools in your area are using the latest editions of textbooks, why would the college bookstore want your outdated textbook?

A lot of academic institutions are now using e-textbooks that students can access via their school’s online academic websites. Additionally, the information in your outdated textbook may not be required reading in any school in your area.

While I am not trying to dissuade you from selling your outdated textbooks, I would say don’t get too excited. There is no standard metric for the pricing of used college textbooks. Even if you are able to sell them, it won’t be for a lot of money.

I’m going to tell you how to make money with outdated textbooks. But first, here is how you should prepare.

How to Make Money With Outdated Textbooks

Before you try to make money with outdated textbooks, consider these few things.

Your outdated textbook needs to be as aesthetically presentable as possible. The worse the aesthetic shape of your outdated textbook, the less likely you will be able to sell it.

Also, the buyback vendors of college textbooks buy textbooks sight unseen (more on that later). If you get an offer from a buyback vendor to buy an outdated textbook and you send them a worn-out book missing the cover or some pages, then don’t expect the other party to honor the deal.

Try to sell several textbooks at once to increase your chances of selling one or a few. You really need to improve those odds if you are selling outdated textbooks.

Your Local College Bookstore

Go online and make a map of every bookstore and college bookstore in your area. And if you go to any non-college bookstore, email or call ahead to make sure that they buy old and outdated textbooks.

If you want to make money with outdated textbooks, you must be realistic that the local college bookstore may not want them. And even if they do make you an offer, understand that they are going to lowball you below your expectations.

It is in your best interest not to put all of your eggs in one basket. So, make a plan to visit as many college bookstores as possible that pre-confirm to you that they assess and buy outdated textbooks.

You also should calculate the amount of time and fuel it will take you to shuttle dozens of outdated textbooks around town. Your gas expenses may be more than the amount of money you make from selling your outdated textbooks.

When you go into a local college bookstore, a worker will assess each outdated textbook and then make you an offer on the spot. Every bookstore has its own metrics for its textbook buyback prices and there is no general standard.

Just remember, don’t expect to make a lot. Most college bookstores are incentivized to sell and buy modern and newer editions of textbooks.

Online Textbook Buyback Programs

Your best bet to make money with outdated textbooks is to try several online textbook buyback programs. All you have to do is go to one of these sites and input the ISBN number of your outdated textbook.

An ISBN is an abbreviation for “International Standard Book Number.” The ISBN is a 10-digit or 13-digit number that is located right above the barcode. Most ISBNs are located on the back or inner front cover of a book.

ISBNs were 10-digits long before 2007 and become 13-digits long afterward.

After inputting the textbook’s ISBN on the website, you will be informed if the site will buy the textbook and the offer price.

Here are five such websites for you to consider.


Cash4Books has a very simplified three-step process to help you make money with outdated textbooks. First, input the outdated textbook’s ISBN in the price quote field on the website.

If you get an offer, you can ship the books to Cash4Books for free. The site has a free shipping label that you can copy and paste and then print.

Depending on where you live, it takes up to 14-days for you to receive payment via check or PayPal


BookByte features a “Sell” search bar that you can use to input the ISBN. If they buy the book, then you should see a copy of the cover and a quote for buying the book. If you accept the offer, click “Continue Sale” to finalize the sale.

Then, print the supplied shipping label and you can ship your outdated textbooks to BookByte for free. It will take four to 14-days for you to be paid via check or PayPal.

You can also check BookByte’s list of wanted books on its “Buyback” list located on the main page.  Depending on the book, BookByte pays anywhere between $9 to $100. Check that list to see if any of your outdated textbooks are on it.


Using BookScouter may be the easiest way for you to make money with outdated textbooks.

BookScouter is an aggregation search website. So, after you input your ISBN, BookScouter will check over 30 other college textbook buyback sites and vendors and then show you all of the offers. And then you can choose the buyback offer that suits you.


Textbookrush employs the same method of selling textbooks as the other websites. Input the textbook’s ISBN and view an offer. If you accept it, Textbookrush will give you a free postage label to ship your textbooks for free.

You can be paid via check, PayPal, or Textbookrush store credit. So, Textbookrush gives you more options to make money with outdated textbooks.


At Bookrun, you can print a QR Code to ship your books for free if you get an offer.  And you will be paid via cash or PayPal.

Bookrun is eco-friendly. For every book bought or sold, Bookrun plants a tree to offset the Earth’s carbon footprint. Bookrun has planted over 8,000 trees so far.

Make Money With Outdated Textbooks?

As I said before, adjust your expectations if you want to make money with outdated textbooks. Sell many at the same time to improve your chances of profiting. And make sure your textbooks are aesthetically presentable for resale.

However, be ready for the possibility that you won’t be able to sell any of your outdated textbooks. In such an eventually, there are many ways in which you can usefully donate your outdated textbooks instead of throwing them away.

Donate your outdated textbooks to BetterWorldBooks. It’s an organization that donates textbooks to economically disadvantaged students in need.

Or consider donating your outdated textbooks to the Goodwill or Salvation Army.

Books Through Bars is an organization that accepts donated books from the public to give to prisoners.

You could donate your outdated textbooks to African students via Books for Africa.

Or you could donate books that will be read by American soldiers abroad via Books for Soldiers.

At the very least, you could donate your outdated textbooks to the local library.

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