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How to pack textbooks for buyback

We listen to the buyback companies tell us about textbooks arrive poorly packaged all the time and how customers do not understand how their “like new condition” book arrived looking like mashed potatoes.

Poor textbook packaging can lead to various kinds of damage:

broken book binding

Broken Textbook Binding

1) Broken binding – especially with heavy books sliding around inside their shipping box

Water damaged book

Liquid Damaged Textbook

2) Water or liquid damage – because the box is not properly sealed

Bad textbook buyback packaging

Poor Buyback Packaging

3) Lost books – books sliding around during the “gentle” mailing process can cause blows out which results in lost books showing up at the Post Office auction in Atlanta, GA where truckloads of lost books are sold each month.  It is nice you guys are keeping the Post Office in business, but I think you would rather keep the cash in your college pocket?

So how can you properly package your books so that you get paid when selling your textbooks for cash?

1) First, double check the condition of your book.  If your bookstore refused to buy it, so to will a textbook sell back company – their condition standards are often tougher than your college bookstore.  Sure, they pay for the shipping and some people decide to give it a swing, but do not be pissed if they reject your book.  Also, if it smells worse than your roommate it will be rejected as well, or if the pages look like a Picasso, no matter how neat and clean your notes and highlighting look to you.

2) If you are sending any CDs make sure they are ideally inside a hard cover textbook to protect them during shipping.  Do not put any CDs or DVDs on top of the books after putting them inside your box as they will generally get crushed.

3) Do not use packing peanuts – they break down during shipping allowing your books to slide around which can cause all sorts of problems.  Plus, if you have ever unpacked something with backing peanuts after getting shipped – total mess and will not make your book inspector happy.

4) Use a sturdy box – sorry cereal, beer, or shoe boxes do not count.  Okay, okay I was a poor college student too and all I could find were cereal boxes I stole from the lounge.  Here is the tip on that – wrap them around your book like tight wrapping paper – at least twice.  Again, make sure there is no extra space between your books and the box edges.  If there is any space pack it with bubble wrap or other light packing material.  Do not use newspaper as the ink will rub off on the book, possibly causing it to be rejected.

5) Use a sturdy box – and do not stick one book in a huge box because it will get crushed during shipping, possibly split open, and your book will get lost even before it gets to the textbook buyback company.  Don’t get upset with them because you packaged the book you are hoping to get $80 bucks in a flimsy box with one piece of tape across the top.  I will try and get some pictures of poorly packaged textbooks, but some of the stuff I have seen makes me wonder how some of you got into college 🙂

6) Include your packing slip – there is a reason the buyback companies ask you to do this.  If your poorly packaged box breaks open, occasionally you might get a postal worker that is nice enough to notice the packing slip with your book after your shoe box gets thrown away.  If they are feeling benevolent that day your book might still get forwarded to the buyback address on the packing slip, if not guess what – no money for you.

7) Use more than one piece of tape.  Tape is cheap, losing your expensive textbook is not cheap or fun.  Those textbooks are like cash so make sure you treat them as such.

8) Finally, consider buying tracking and/or insurance – media mail is slow as molasses, but will generally arrive in 30 days.  However, if it gets lost or directed to parts unknown there is no tracking, and it will often be gone like the wind.

There you have it – eight simple steps about how to package textbooks for buyback.

Keep those things in mind and ideally your textbooks will never got lost or damaged in the mail again.


  1. […] do not do the best job packing their buyback textbooks.  We recently discovered a good article on how to pack textbooks for buyback over on  The article does a good job talking about packing types like not using […]