10 Reasons Used Textbooks are Better than New Books

Buying used textbooks is often a no-brainer, provided that inventory is available. The university bookstores often sell out of used books quickly, causing students who purchase on the first day of classes to pay the full retail price for a new book. Students who shop online almost always have the opportunity to buy cheaper used books. Here are a few reasons why used books are better than new ones.

  1. Used books are cheaper than brand new ones. University bookstores will often discount new books as much as 25% off. Online used book prices are often much lower, allowing you to buy textbooks that are cheaper. On occasion we have seen used books selling for $.01 when the new book is over $200 new.
  2. Don't judge a book by its cover. Normal use will cause a book's cover to look used, but the pages inside remain in pristine condition. If the book has all of its pages and it's still readable, the used version is just as useful as a brand new copy. Your professor will assign readings with specific page numbers and likely assign homework problems from the back of your college textbooks. The condition of the cover or a few bent pages will not impact your ability to read the book or do the homework problems.
  3. Highlighting! A used book where the key passages are highlighted is a gift for anyone who buys it. Anyone who owns a highlighted copy of a text holds a blueprint for success, mapped out by the book's previous owners. As long as the previous owner didn't go crazy with the highlighting and highlighted everything, getting a highlighted used book is great.
  4. Sell-back Value is Virtually Identical. After a semester of wear and tear, a new book looks exactly the same as a used book, so the value the books can be sold for at the end of the term are the same. Why pay a premium if you are going to get the same amount back for the book when you are done with it?
  5. The longer a textbook has been in circulation, the cheaper its used copies are. Due to the economics of supply and demand, the longer a title has been in circulation, the more used textbook supply there will be. At a certain point, there will be far more students selling books, than buying them, causing the prices to fall.
  6. The more expensive the book, the more you can save. This might seem obvious, but it is worth noting. If you are taking a writing or politics class that assigns more than ten $10 textbooks, there won't be a huge benefit to buying used books. How much could a $10 text possibly be discounted, plus shipping? Huge and expensive Math and Science books that are selling brand new for upwards of one hundred dollars are much more likely to result in huge savings when seeking out used copies.
  7. Shipping is fast. Cheap textbooks have been bought and sold on the internet for so many years now that shipping should always be quick. One way to make sure that delivery is expedited is to order from marketplace sellers in states located near yours. The closer the location, the faster the package will get to you.
  8. Used does not mean dirty. Used textbooks are often just as clean as new ones, and they don't have that awful new book smell.
  9. International editions. Sometimes, you’ll have the opportunity to buy international edition textbooks. Technically international editions are not permitted for re-sale, but many online sellers distribute them anyway. If someone is selling an international edition, this will be noted in the description for the book. These editions are amazing because they have the exact same content as the non-international version, but at a much cheaper price point. The differences are often cosmetic: the page numbers and content is exactly the same, but the book might be paperback instead of hardcover, and the pages might be printed in black and white instead of color.
  10. Instructor editions. The teacher's edition, like the int’l edition, is usually prohibited from resale, but there are usually several copies in circulation. The teachers' editions often come with complete homework solutions at the back of the book, and they also provide additional insights throughout the chapters for how specific subject matter could be explained.