Selling back college textbooks can be frustrating

May 18, 2012

As college courses wrap up for the year, college students are trying to get the best prices for their used textbooks.  

Some textbooks will be updated, and students will not get a penny for those. Others may be damaged or missing portions.  Nothing for those either. 

Increasingly, students are going online to buy and sell or opting for a cheaper upfront cost for an electronic version of the course material.

Frustration over buying and reselling textbooks is nothing new.

According to a report issued by State Public Interest Research Groups, textbook prices have been rising more than four times the rate of inflation over the past two decades.

 In 2007, Illinois legislators looked at requiring colleges and universities to enact policies relating to rising textbook costs. The measure died for lack of action.

In 2010, the College Textbook Affordability Act went into effect.  U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., visited universities to tout the plan intend to combat high textbook prices.  

That law, passed in 2007,  includes several measures intended to combat rising textbook prices.

The publisher must include:

  • The price at which the publisher would make the college textbook or supplemental material available to the bookstore on campus
  • Any history of revisions for the college textbook or supplemental material
  • Whether the college textbook or supplemental material is available in any other format

Students weigh in

Northern Illinois University freshman business major Mia Moorehead:

"Usually around this time you want to have some money in your pocket as you’re going home, and selling your books is a great thing, I think it’s the best method.”

NIU senior business administration major Alex Pattanayak:

 "I rented two books this semester and the other I just bought online because it was an e-book … so you pay a one-time like fee and then you have the book for the length of the semester, and then you use that for the semester, and it’s cheaper than buying a paper copy.”

WNIJ's Jenna Dooley learned a great deal more about the situation. To hear her feature as broadcast during "Morning Edition" this morning, click on the "Listen" button above.