Bargain books and fast cash: Where to buy books for less and sell them for more

By Kristin Riegel

A new semester means new beginnings: a new haircut, new shoes, new notebooks, new teachers, and of course, new textbooks. Unfortunately, with the current cost of textbooks new books are out of the question for many and used books’ prices barely seem to take the “used” part into consideration.With the hectic rush of returning to school, unpacking, and catching up with friends, price gives way to simplicity and before you know it you are debating whether to buy books online or spend the extra $5.00 at the college bookstore so you’re not a week behind in reading. Here’s your guide to where to shop for “new” textbooks and how to turn your old textbooks into cash.

1. Mac Book Swap
Started in Spring 2003 by Tim Bates ’06, Matt Dickens ’06, and Will Watson ’06 Mac Book Swap offers Macalester students a chance to sell books online with no registration or selling costs. With 1854 books available on the site, there are plenty of books to browse through. However, with courses and reading lists constantly changing, it is difficult to find books for more advanced courses or courses that are not taught regularly. On the plus side, the books listed are usually considerably cheaper than you would find elsewhere and shipping is not an issue. To browse the site’s collection or sell some of your old textbooks, visit Mac Book Swap at

2. is a great place to search several sites for the lowest prices all with the click of a mouse. Enter the title, author, ISBN, or keywords of a book you are looking for and press enter. Within seconds the best deals from the top textbook retailers are present on one screen. Although the site does list used books, for large online retailers such as and only new prices are listed, so it is important to check these sites individually for the best deal.

Campusbooks, like, has a search feature which enables you to look for the best book prices in one place. Although the website also offers an annual membership for $25 in which you can save 5 percent on every purchase, make sure that you will be purchasing enough books to make the membership worthwhile. The site also has a section in which you can sell your old textbooks either by selling the book directly to the site for cash or posting your books on the Campusbooks Marketplace. If you’re tired of trying to sell that art history book that no one seems to want, you can also donate your books to people in need through the website.

4. DeWitt-Wallace Library
If you are really looking for a way to save money this semester, head to the library. Borrowing books from the library is a great way to avoid buying books that you will only use for a short period of time. After your first day of class, look at the syllabus for which books you will using and when. If you need specific books that are used only once or for a short time, check them out from the library about a week before the reading is assigned-that way you can avoid the rush of your classmates doing the same. However, if your teacher has put the book on reserve you will only be able to check it out for a limited time and if you forget to pick up the book ahead of time (and before others have thought to check it out), you may end up bookless and having to borrow one from a friend.