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Buyback FAQ

One phase of the textbook operation that puzzles many students is Book Buyback. It is often a negative experience due to the disparity between student expectations and the realities of the textbook marketplace. It is our belief that understanding the Buyback process will take some of the mystery (and pain) out of it.

Book Buyback is an important part of the Bookstore's total textbook program. While many schools use professional buyers to handle their Buyback operations, we use our own personnel. We want you to make your selling decisions based on the best information possible, and we simply don't feel that people without a connection to Hope can offer this information. These bookstore buyers can often give advice if you are wondering whether it's wiser to hold on to a particular book or, if you prefer selling whatever you can right now, they can process your transaction quickly and efficiently.

The Hope-Geneva Bookstore makes every effort to assure students of the highest possible payment for used books, but the reality is that there are many limitations that can cause a book to be of little or no value. The following information is our attempt to answer the questions most frequently asked about Buyback.

1. Why does the Bookstore offer a buyback service?
2. When is buyback?
3. Do I need my sales receipt to sell books?
4. How does the Bookstore determine which books to buy?
5. Why are some books worth so much more than others?
6. Why do the wholesalers only pay 10-30% for textbooks?
7. Why not sell all my books right now no matter what the price?
8. Why do some books have no market value to either the bookstore or a used book wholesaler?

9. Will the bookstore buy books even if there were purchased somewhere else?
10. Anything else I should know about Buyback?

1. Why does the Bookstore offer a buyback service?

There are two reasons: one is to establish a uniform method for students to dispose of texts no longer needed or wanted; the other is to obtain a supply of required books that can be re-sold to students at the lowest possible price. Although we aggressively shop the used book wholesalers, our best source of used books is still our own students.

2. When is buyback?

Book buy-back is held during exam week at the end of each semester and at the end of May Term. There is no buyback at the beginning of the semester because at that time the bookstore must have books for every student already on the shelves.

3. Do I need my sales receipt to sell books?

No. While a receipt is needed to return books for refund during the drop-add period, you do not need a receipt to sell books at Buyback. The only thing you need to bring to Buyback is your student ID card. We cannot buy your books without a picture ID.

4. How does the Bookstore determine which books to buy?

The selection of textbooks is always the responsibility of the individual instructor. As texts are adopted by the faculty for use in a coming semester, we compile a book list of texts that will be reused (i.e. books needed for the following semester that have been previously used on campus). We try to make this list as complete as possible, but for this we are dependent on the cooperation of the faculty. It is an unfortunate reality that complete information is not always available at Buyback time due to changes in faculty and indecision on the part of instructors.

Next, based on class enrollments and existing book inventories, our textbook manager determines the quantity of each book which can be purchased at Buyback. Due to space limitations as well as the uncertainties of future use and superseded editions, the Bookstore pays 50% only for books to be reused the coming semester. Books not needed by the Bookstore are sold to a used-book wholesaler who makes them available to other college stores around the country.

5. Why are some books worth so much more than others?

The best price is always paid for books needed by the Bookstore for the coming semester. If your book is in reasonable condition and has been adopted by a faculty member for use in the coming semester, the Bookstore will pay you up to 50% of the price you paid for the book, provided we are not already overstocked on that title. For example, a textbook that you purchased new with a list price of $30 will be worth $15.00 if purchased for the Bookstore.

Unfortunately, there are several factors that can prevent a book from being purchased at the higher Bookstore price. Some of them are:

  • The professor who last used the book has not yet submitted a book order, so we don't know if this book will be reused.
  • The professor has chosen to reuse the book, but it has gone into a new edition. Once a new edition has been published, all older editions are of no value in the used-book market; even the used-book wholesaler will not buy it.
  • The professor has chosen to reuse the book, but it was originally packaged with a web access code that much reduces its buyback value. Web access codes can only be used by the one original student. We are sometimes unable to repackage the textbook itself with a new access code because of prohibitively high publishers' pricing strategies. In these cases, the best we can offer is the used book wholesaler's price.
  • The book is not being used the following semester at Hope. This can be due to several factors:
    1) The professor who last used the book has replaced it with a different title.
    2) The book was last used for a course that is not being offered the coming semester. In this case, if your book is of fairly current copyright, you may wish to hold it and try your luck at the next Buyback.

If books are not needed on Hope's campus for the coming semester, it may still be possible to sell them through the Bookstore to a used-book wholesaler. This is a special service we offer to students who wish to sell their books even though we can't buy them at the higher Bookstore price.

Value of such books is determined by national demand and current marketability. Wholesale companies typically pay between 10% and 30% of the new book price for current editions of textbooks they can resell to other colleges and universities. The Bookstore does not encourage students to sell books in this manner unless there seems to be no indication that the book will be used again at Hope.

In some cases, there are limits to the quantity of books the Bookstore needs of a certain title. Once the Bookstore has reached its quota of such a book, we can offer only the "wholesale" value, i.e. the price the wholesaler will pay for that book. If, for example, the Bookstore needs only 50 copies of Myers: PSYCHOLOGY, we will pay 50% of the purchase price for the first 50 books we buy. Any books purchased after that will be purchased for the wholesale market at the wholesale price.

6. Why do the wholesalers only pay 10-30% for textbooks?

Used-book wholesalers base the price they will pay for a book on their perceived "marketability" of that particular book. Many risk factors enter into the value of a book, such as the age of its edition and the book's demand on other campuses. In addition, wholesale companies must take into account the costs of shipping books to a central warehouse, processing them for resale, then selling and shipping them (hopefully) to other campuses at a low enough price that they will be competitive with new books.

Used-book wholesalers play a vital role in the college textbook market by recycling books not needed on one campus to other campuses needing the books. At the same time, they offer cash to students wanting to sell unneeded or unwanted books, while making possible substantial savings to students who purchase used books we have obtained through wholesalers. About 25% of the used books sold in our store come from used-book wholesalers, and we would buy more if we could.

7. Why not sell all my books right now no matter what the price?

This is certainly a common approach, and if you need the money now, it makes sense. With textbook values, however, timing is everything. The Buyback value of your book is based on need, and its value can go up or down depending on its use.

For books used on campus, it pays to sell early since titles with a Buyback limit are purchased on a first come, first served basis. For titles purchased through a used-book wholesaler, however, prices change dramatically only when books change editions. If you have reason to believe that a current-edition textbook (copyright date only 1-2 years old) will be used sometime in the future even though it will not be used during the coming semester, you may wish to hold it for resale to the Bookstore at a later date rather than accept the lower wholesale price.

8. Why do some books have no market value to either the bookstore or a used book wholesaler?

Below are listed some the most common reasons for a book to have no resale value:

  • The book is an old edition. Once a book changes edition, professors all around the country want the new edition; even though that book may have been purchased new, it will have no resale value on the textbook market. The average life of a textbook is about three years. The closer a book gets to this point, the less wholesale value it has. In general it is best to sell your books as soon as possible after you have determined you no longer need or want them.

  • The book is in unsalable condition. Examples would include books with lost, torn or illegible covers, water damage, missing pages, contents separated from covers, loose bindings, excessive highlighting or excessive cribbing which would make the book useless to the next person who buys it (e.g. a foreign language book with every translation written in). We reserve the right to refuse any book that in our judgement has deteriorated to an unsalable condition.

  • The book is consumable/expendable. In general, we do not buy back workbooks, lab manuals, study guides, books with perforated (tear-out) pages. Other examples include books with filled-in pages that cannot be re-used (e.g. accounting worksheets); material that is constantly updated (e.g. Federal Tax Codes and Annual Edition titles), most loose leaf notebooks, locally produced materials and custom-published books of readings that change every semester.

  • The book is a "bestseller" or a religious title. Ironically what these two categories have in common is a weak resale value in the national college market. Current or even older "trade" titles may not even be listed in the Buying Guide. Titles of a parochial religious nature are not used in enough schools across the country to warrant purchase by the used book wholesalers.

9. Will the bookstore buy books even if they were purchased from somewhere else?


10. Anything else I should know about Buyback?

We can't give specific Buyback information over the phone. It is simply too busy in the store and only the textbook buyers at the window have the updated information necessary to give the right answers. We have set up this web page and we will keep it updated as a source for general information as well as specific details regarding the upcoming buyback. For the details, please refer to:

Premium Buyback List
Orders Not Received
Titles Wholesale Value
Titles with Low Value Due to Web Access Code Issues.

Books don't have to be coddled. To sell them they must be in reasonably good condition, but we do not mean that you must be so protective of your books that you can't enjoy them...get the best use out of them. Underline some passages if that helps you understand and remember. To us, and to most students, this does not constitute deterioration. We'll still pay the fair market value for your book if you've taken decent care of it.

Finally, there is never a guarantee that textbooks you purchase will be used again by any instructor anywhere in the country. Textbooks are a learning tool and, hopefully, valuable to your education. You should not buy books with the expectation of reselling every one -- that happens in very few cases. The real value of a book is obtained by studying it carefully; if it can be resold when no longer needed, that is an extra bonus.

rev. 12/5/96 mjc. Special thanks to Cheri Castner of Northwest Michigan College for liberal use of her pamphlet, "The Great Buy-back Mystery," and to Sarah Anderson for her editorial suggestions. If you have any comments on this material feel free to contact us at the e-mail address below. Hope College | Hope-Geneva Bookstore