Textbook buyback is a game of economics

Dec. 12, 2011

April Wefler
[email protected]

It’s the end of the semester, and while packing up to go home, you find yourself glaring at your mound of textbooks. You remember how much they cost and hope you’ll get your money back for them.

But when you bring in that book that cost $120 to the bookstore’s textbook buyback, you are shocked and annoyed to only receive $10 in return. Why do you get $110 less for something that cost you a whole paycheck?

Ultimately, the amount of money you receive for your textbooks depends on supply and demand. Companies are more likely to buy a textbook that they’ll need more.

“It kind of works like clothing; I mean, you literally get pennies on the dollar, depending on supply and demand,” said Sharon Coddington, textbook manager at the UCCS Bookstore.

She noted that the process for buying back textbooks is like if you go to a clothing store and try to sell back your clothes. The store will only take what it needs, leaving the rest for you to figure out what to do with.

Coddington mentioned that the supply and demand factor is based off of general economics. If the textbook brought back in is in popular demand, then companies will buy it and the student will get a lot of money back.

On the other hand, if the book is an old edition on its way out, or one that is less demanded, the student will get little to no money back. Often, old editions of textbooks are worth nothing and the student is stuck with it.

If the bookstore is looking for that particular textbook, the student will receive 50 percent back for new or used books. With the wholesale companies, the student can receive anywhere between 10 percent and 40 percent.

The wholesale companies need the textbooks that are more likely to bring in profit for them. The bookstore works with companies throughout the nation, mostly MBS in Missouri and Follett in Illinois.

Since there are no companies in Colorado, Coddington said they have to travel all over to buy books back.

Coddington noted that it’s easier for her to know what to buy back if the faculty member for that course puts in their textbook order for the next semester. If she doesn’t have the orders, then she doesn’t know what they need.

“It’s the best because I can buy books back from our students instead of going straight to wholesale companies. They’re on the shelves and ready to go,” said Coddington.

Textbook buyback happens in the store once every month and more frequently toward the end of a semester. This month, textbook buyback was on Dec. 8-10 and will happen again Dec. 19-21.

If you are unable to bring your books into the bookstore, there is also an online option. On the bookstore website (uccsbookstore.com), you can put in the title of the book and the companies will say how much they’ll offer for the book.