Cash for Textbooks or Amazon Textbook Buyback ?

Amazon Textbook Buyback or Cash for Textbooks – Your Best Option?

It is the time of year when lots of textbook companies are hoping to buy back textbooks to sell back in the fall.  As someone endeavoring to get the highest price for your textbooks should you attempt to get cash for textbooks or try the new Amazon Textbook Buyback program which only offers Amazon credit?

Cash for Textbooks

Cash for Textbooks or Amazon Textbook Credit?

Amazon has been heavily pushing their Amazon Prime program to college goers via their Amazon Student Savings program.  Amazon Student offers free two-day shipping on eligible products with a year of Amazon Prime shipping benefits and other special offers via email.  Amazon offers this program for free to students that provide their school, major, and .edu email address.

Amazon claims students can get back up to 70% back on their used textbooks, but haven’t recently gotten into some legal action with the National Association of College Stores over their claims.  The Amazon textbook buyback program has been getting good reviews here at RentScouter with the program building a great deal of popularity despite only offering credit.  However, since Amazon sells everything from diapers to gourmet food, people are generally pretty happy with getting credit when they sell back books instead of cash for textbooks.  Plus, Amazon’s buy back program offers a great deal more than most companies offering to buy back textbooks.

Let’s look at a couple examples of cash for textbooks versus Amazon textbook buyback credit:

9781416056171  Physical Examination and Health Assessment by Jarvis

Amazon is currently offering $71.10 in credit, while the next best textbook buyback price is $9.00 from BookByte.  The cheapest price for this textbook is currently $15.63 used on Amazon.

9780495800187  A Concise Introduction to Logic by Hurley

Amazon is currently offering $56.86 in credit, while the next best book buyback price is $7.84 from Moola4Books, while it can be purchased used on Amazon for $16.00.

9780321558145  Campbell Biology with MasteringBiology 9th Edition by Reece

Amazon is currently offering $95.00 in credit, while TextbookRus is offering $103.00 and it can be bought as a used textbook for $141.95.

As you can see, sometimes you can get more cash for textbooks than Amazon credit, but are textbook buyback companies and Amazon equal?

From our own textbook trade-in tests to Amazon they are very picky on condition and supplemental materials.  They will reject most books that contain any sort of marking or do not include a CD or DVD or even access code.  Meanwhile, most companies that buy back textbooks will certainly take books with a reasonable amount of marking or highlighting, though most will not take textbooks missing required CDs or DVDs.

How does Amazon offer so much credit instead of cash for textbooks?

Amazon’s textbook buyback program is run by NorAm International which ultimately becomes Nebraska Book Company (NBC) one of the largest wholesale textbook companies that supplies new and used textbooks to hundreds of college bookstores across the nation and textbook rental companies as well.  NBC can offer more for textbooks through Amazon only for school books it knows they can resell for a much higher price, or sell to a book rental company that will offer it as a textbook rental several times.  So while you are getting a good deal of Amazon credit for your textbook trade-in, whoever has to buy that textbook next is not getting a bargain.

That is why a used book might be selling used on Amazon for $15.00 and they are offering $70.00 in credit – because NorAm is offering Amazon more because the book can be resold at a higher price, or used as a textbook rental several times.  However, remember that Amazon often loses money on certain products to make money on others, and they know if they give you $70.00 in credit, they are making 15% back in the commission they charge on every item you purchase on Amazon.  They also know that by giving you Amazon credit they are helping to retain you as a future customer that will spend more and more money with them – for instance, buying new textbooks that they will make a pretty penny in commission.

Cash for Textbooks or Amazon Textbook Buyback – if you need the cash get the highest price, otherwise you probably make out best with Amazon credit unless you don’t order much from Amazon.


  1. ekpaulson says:

    The idea sounds interesting, especially for older books (can't buy or download an electronic copy), but personally I could not imagine anyone using the service as you described it. If I like a book enough to own a physical copy of it, I don't want to see it destroyed.

    It may not be rational, but many people view books as having a value far beyond the information contained therein. Thus the whole collectible/antique market, as well as the desire to own a book, rather than check it out from the library.

    I *might* be willing to accept it being cut apart, scanned, and rebound (even if it was in a different cover/binding method than the original). I don't think I would emotionally accept “losing” the investment in my paper copy. If I got back a alternately rebound version of my original, at least I would still have it.

    If I gave up the paper copy, in my mind, the cost of the book would be added to the cost of the service, making it seem doubly expensive. I'd rather pay twice as much and get the book back. However, if there was also a cheaper option for scanning with no returns (i.e. both options were available), *maybe* I would opt for that after I got used to the whole process.

    On the upside, the used book market is amazingly huge. My wife and I sell used books online (via Amazon and other sources) and I have peripherally observed the used music market, and my guess is that the size of the secondary book market is easily 5-10 times as large as that of audio recordings.

    If Reclaim Media entered this market and did it right, I wouldn't be surprised if the volume of business was an order of magnitude larger than what they currently see in the audio market.

    Looking at Amazon, if I did it right, I find they currently have 2,258,201 items in the category “Music” and 27,115,116 items in the category “Books” — so that is about an order of magnitude more, as I thought.

  2. AshleyPrimes517 says:

    How do bookstores sell anything? You can find the same books for 40% less on Amazon with free shipping. 95% less at Goodwill!

  3. apeterson756 says:

    What’s the best place to sell back books and old edition textbooks?

  4. StudentBookTrades says:

    College students will be able to save money on college textbooks by trading textbooks at their own home campus – trade for free or buy and sell textbooks for additional savings.

  5. Rent Textbooks says:

    Always check out our textbook sell back price comparison to find the best price for your school books including old edition textbooks. In general, if a textbook is older than three, sometimes five, years no one will be interested in buying because a new edition will have been published and the demand will be low. However, Powell’s might still be buying it – though remember they require books to be in very good condition. Also, some old edition civil and mechanical engineering textbooks retain their value for decades

  6. darkstar3333 says:

    How many massive chain book stores sell used books along side new ones and offer the same book for $5 off when you attempt to buy the new book?

  7. You will make the most money back doing a private sale, most cases.

    College text books are a HUGE cost. Try buying textbooks online from online textbook sites.

    Good luck!


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