Today is a big day: Campus Books released a cache of data from our Spring buy back period last year. This is big for a number of reasons. First, as one of the biggest price aggregators out there, we have a lot of data, and we’re sharing it with you. Second, this data can be a valuable tool for retailers and deal-seekers alike. It’s common (but often overlooked) sense when you compare it to any other investment: you wouldn’t purchase an investment looking only at purchase cost. You’d also plan for the best resale value.
The full amount of data and some notable results are available for download, so I won’t go into them here. However, the results have some important implications that go beyond just the data points.
First and foremost, students need to be vigilant about selling books in the same way they seek savings when looking to buy. The sentiment is often, “end-of-semester, get me to summer already,” but students can really benefit from doing some final homework.
Secondly, while this data only looks at online buyback prices, on campus prices must be considered as well. On campus works similar to online in that the textbook buyer on campus will pay a premium for books until a desired number is purchased, students selling after that may get a significant lower amount for their books. On campus, obviously, we don’t have that data, but we expect the same types of trends to follow.
Know what your deal means: online buyback quotes can be good for one day or 30 days, and you must read the details to make sure you know what data you are looking at and what “real” value it has. Beware, many sites requires you to ship the book withing a number of days after the quote is generated.
The data showed that the highest prices were offered once the rush was over. In some cases, holding the book until the start of the next semester may be worth the risk. At that point in time the demand for the book will be much higher while the supply will start to decrease. While you might not get cash from a buyback site you can possible sell the book on a marketplace and earn even more.
However, the data showed that opposite is also true: If you don’t need your book for finals you may want to consider selling it back early; if you plan to sell it back on campus do so on the first day. You may not get the highest price, but the data shows that the highest average price is during that period. It’s the safest bet, for sure.
Finally, one thought on pricing and buying strategy: Ask the bookstore if the book will be used for the next semester, if they tell you “no” then you are most likely getting a wholesale or internet price. Wholesale books will go back to a central distribution center and then sold to another school. Internet retail prices are purchased for resale over the internet. Both are a lower value buyback than a retail book that will stay on your campus and be used the next semester.
Take a look at the data, especially industry friends. Let me know what you think, and what kinds of other insight and trends you gather from it.