The art of the textbook sale is learned from semester to semester. Some people are selling so that they can recoup serious funds before picking up their next required reading text, while others are simply looking for a deal. The remainder are out for a quick cash influx to satisfy their nasty drinking habit. Each university has this same chaotic cycle. Those trying to cut down school costs are always on the lookout for a cheap textbook.
When it comes to a good deal, there can be a very fine line. The bookstore is a cruel mistress who charges top dollar for new product. Students who think they can sell a textbook for $150 after paying $210 the previous semester are foolish. Traditionally, the meaning of “reselling” involves consumers buying a certain product upon its initial release, and selling it for a high price once demand increases and supply decrease; econ 101. In the textbook market however, this trend is not consistent. Students have to steeply undercut the market to warrant a good sale. On average, a good used textbook can sell anywhere between $60 and $100. Personally, I have sold books for more, and for less. The underground textbook hustle is always changing.
Regardless of the payout, some students just want to hook up their fellow classmates. In the past for example, I have passed down textbooks for free to close friends and colleagues. Sometimes, the gratification of a shared or free textbook means more than a meager forty dollars in today's world. This diligent act is usually reciprocated by the other party in the following semesters. What goes around, comes around as they often say.
In this conversation, we should not overlook the fact that the publishers consistently like to tug us around by releasing newer and updated editions of the texts. Regardless of if you are a new student enrolled in a course, or a past student looking to sell, it is always heartbreaking to find out that a prof is using the new book. Depending on the difficulty of the class, a newer textbook could spell the end for your now outdated edition. Most students want to stay up to date with a professor's current notes and questions, regardless of how cheap they can get the past book for. This can lead to the irrelevance of your 4th Canadian Edition Economics textbook, when compared to the 5th.
The first week and a half can be a serious juggle show of textbooks and cash. Students like to keep tabs on who is taking what so that they can get the jump on either selling or buying from a friend. Once your cell phone number hits the book fair table, you can rest assured that your texts will be blowing up. It is very comical to walk in and around the bookstore this time of year. Consumers and suppliers alike can be found aimlessly strolling the halls outside looking for the person they are trying to conduct a cash transaction with. With twenty other students all trying to do the same, an awkward social interaction can be observed. To the innocent bystander, it is hard to clearly see who is waiting to sell, and who is waiting to buy. Dealers are left to reluctantly look back down at their phones to see if the person they just texted is close enough in the vicinity to notice this subtle movement. When this doesn’t happen, and you are left out in the cold by a client, you might simply get a response like: “I’m actually in the cafe, meet later?”
This trend ultimately will continue till the end of the world. University students are always looking for the best deal, or a quick buyout. This strong correlation creates a reputable underground book market which flows from institution to institution. Money comes and money goes, so do textbooks. They can always be sold for a certain price, even the ones you actually kind of wanted to keep once you finally graduated.