Monday, August 16, 2010

How to Save on Law School Textbooks:

First, Buy Used:

There are several sites you can used to buy textbooks at a discount. My favorite is Amazon. Some guidelines for a successful purchase:

  • Buy near or in your state to receive the item faster. The used book listings are provided by individual sellers, and shipped directly from them. Sellers are required to ship your book within 2 business days of the purchase. Additionally, most sellers will ship by Media Mail, since law school books usually weight upwards of 3 lbs. Media Mail is a slow service, but you can receive your book faster if you buy from a seller in or near your state (provided they are at a price you like).
  • Look at the sellers rating before you buy. A seller with a slight negative rating may not be a bad seller. You should check the individual bad ratings to see if the seller made it a point to respond to the bad remark. Occasionally, a buyer leaves a review for the book itself and not for the seller.
  • Factor in shipping to the price you pay. If you want an item quickly and wish to pay for the expedited shipping it can cost you.
  • Remember to give the seller feedback. Especially good feedback. Feedback on Amazon is not like other sites. Very few buyers actually take the time to provide the feedback, and it is that feedback which creates the rating you based your purchases on. Providing accurate feedback, both good and bad, can signal to other buyers which sellers are worth buying from.

There are a few other sites I use when I find the price is too high on Amazon:

  • Occassionally, the price you find on the used books here is lower. As a plus, they ship by UPS for free, which means you usually get your book quickly.
  • BarnesandNoble: Rarely, you can find the best price at Barnes and Noble online.
  • or eBay: I have never had much luck with buying from eBay or The few books I've bought on took longer than promised to arrive, arrive in a condition that is less than what was advertised, and I never find what I need on eBay. Still, the same guidelines apply: Check the ratings, buy close to you to get your books faster, and factor in shipping (which on eBay can be way overpriced).

There are a few sites out there claiming to compare the prices from sites on the internet, including Amazon and eBay, but I have found their pricing to be unreliable, so I just keep my favorites bookmarked and check with them first.

Oh, and remember to check RetailMeNot to see if there are any online coupon codes out there to sweeten the deals!

Next, Sell your used books:

Once you are done with the law school class you bought that book for (and make sure you have a passing grade!) you no longer need that book. There are a quite a few sites that will buy your book back or allow you to sell your book on their site. Personally, I have never sold my book back to any company I have purchased from. I find their buyback prices are about half of what I can get if I am just willing to do a little work. I have tried to put together as much as I know from the one sites I do sell my textbooks on: Amazon.


  • Fees: (only applies to books) 15% of the selling price. $1.35 Closing fee. $0.99 fixed closing fee (if you have a merchant account the last fee is waived). For example: You want to sell a textbook for $100.00 on Amazon, the fees will be: $17.34 ($15.00 + $1.35 + $0.99), and you will be paid $3.99 for shipping expenses. Your total profit will be: $86.65.
  • Shipping: You can not adjust the shipping amount the buyer pays so make sure the book listed will have enough profit to pay this expense. You can find padded envelopes at Walmart, Walgreen's, OfficeMax...anywhere you buy packing supplies. Also, Media Mail can cost anywhere from $3-$6 depending on the weight of the book. If you are just starting out, you may want to walk your book into the post office to make sure the postage is right. More confident sellers can use PayPal to create shipping labels, making your trip to the post office a simple drop off.
  • Listing: Amazon's listing is pretty simple. Look up the book, and click "Sell Yours Here" on the right hand side.
  • Condition and Description: If you are unsure on the condition, use Amazon's condition guidelines. If in doubt, go for the lesser rating, so your buyer will be pleasantly surprised at the condition of the book, rather than disappointed. Also, your description is very important. You want to include the condition of the cover and binding, if there is any highlighting or writing in the margins, and also how much of the book you think is highlighted. If you bought the book new and only used it for one semester, include that fact. If its highlighted in only one color, make sure to note that. Include as much information as possible, your buyers will be grateful.
  • Price and Shipping Method: This is pretty straight forward. Enter the price you want (before fees). Standard shipping is automatic. If you want to allow expedited shipping you can elect that, just know that you may have to pay a lot to ship a big textbook quickly.
  • Continue: The last page before you confirm your listing. This will show you what your profit will be if your item sells. pay nothing unless your item sells.
  • Notification Settings: You can adjust your notification settings on you Seller Account Page so that once your item sells you will be notified by email. This will save you from having to check back everyday to see if you sold anything. Keep in mind you have 2 business days to ship your book once its sold.

Too much work for you? That's fine, I know it seems like a lot if you are not used to it. There are a lot of sites out there that will buy back your used textbook:

And...if you want to find out which buyback service is going to give you the best price, you can use this buyback comparison site: BookScouter


  1. Great information friend.People really love your tips who want to purchase textbooks online

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    from my end to your visitors

    Thank You