And More About Used Books…


Bundling is considered any form of a textbook that has added supplements items, such as CD’s or codes for online tests, assignments, or any other bonus material. The bundling textbooks purchases do not always have the option to be bought separately and after used reduce the resale value. PIRGs have found that these books are 10%-50% more than unbundled books and 65% of professors say they seldom use the included items in bundled books. Although bundling is done to make money, some feel that it encourages students to purchase the cheaper, used books and buy the code separately.

In addition to making money, bundling is also used for division between it and the used book market. Each part of a bundle has a separate ISBN number so bookstores who search for them will only be able to find parts of the required packages used instead of purchasing it new. The legal system has limited bundling practices by requiring them to sell each piece of the package separately

Used textbook market

There are numerous ways for students to resell their used textbooks 1) the college/university bookstore; 2) other students; or 3) different websites and student swap services.

Student to student sales

It is often that students will sell books to the incoming classes enrolling in courses that they have taken. This is often accomplished by many forms of advertisement, such as flyers, asking students already looking for the book in the bookstore, social media, etc. Some schools have websites designated for selling their textbooks to others.

Online book buyers

Online book buyers purchase textbooks and occasionally other genres of books for resale on their sites. The benefit to online book buyers is that they are operational all year so there is no cut-off period for selling your books. Unlike in the bookstore, when they only purchase books during certain times of the year. The purpose of buying the textbooks is for the company to make a profit, but they usually offer free shipping. The sites show a price quote for the books and can be searched by ISBN number that they are selling or buying.

Rental programs

Another alternative to purchasing a book is renting it. The book is paid for a certain length of time and must be returned by the due date or the consumer will be charged a late fee until the book is returned. Books can be rented in-store or online and cannot be resold to the customer like a used or new textbook.

Textbook Sharing

Another alternative to purchasing a new book is textbook sharing. Textbook sharing is when two or more students divide the cost of the textbook amongst them and share the book with each other. This method allows the student to purchase the book for a much cheaper price. So if the book is used by four people, the student would only pay for 25% of the book.

New Additions & The Used Books Market

Tons of textbooks are books that have never been utilized by any other consumer, but used textbooks are those that have been previously purchased and used by a consumer. Students usually buy used textbooks because they are marketed at lower prices than the new books. Most places, including college bookstores, will buy the textbooks back from students to resell to other students. Off-campus wholesalers will also purchase students books but usually only 0-30% of the original price. The wholesalers will then sell the books to other companies to sell. To combat this, textbook companies have come up with software to go along with the textbooks to coerce the professors to assign homework through their sites. To use the company’s homework assignment site, the student must have a code. The code comes with the new books, but if a student purchases a new book they must buy a system through the publisher’s site, thus creating more revenue for the company. To find cheaper prices, students usually look outside of the school bookstore using the books ISBN number or book title, author, or edition. A new edition of textbooks is usually published about every 3 or 4 years and most often math and science books. The new editions are not usually substantially different in content but used as a means to generate more revenue for the publishing company. PIRGs (Public Interest Research Group) students did a study that found that new editions are 12% more expensive than the preceding version and used copies are 58% less than the edition before. The creation of new releases is usually based on faculty demand. The PIRGs also found that 76% of faculty warrant the establishment of new releases.

The “Broken” Market Issue

The textbook market operation is much different from that of the consumer markets. Students, who would be considered the end customer, do not choose the product, or textbook, and the textbooks are not bought by the professor. Since the product must be purchased by the student, the cost of the textbooks is no longer a factor in the purchasing decision. Consequently, the publishers have unequal market power to set prices as high or low as they please. This market difference is seen as the primary cause of prices being astronomical. The broken market of textbooks is worsened because there is no textbook market competition. Startup costs for new textbook prices have risen because the amount of textbook companies has decreased from thirty to just a few. High startup costs make it harder for more companies to enter.

Textbook History – Beginnings Of Education

Early textbooks were used by teachers and tutors as instructional tools while individuals used them to teach themselves. The ancient Greeks wrote textbooks to benefit education, but the 15th-century textbooks were created differently than what we use today. Johannes Gutenberg, who was a German metalsmith, created the printing press to create the first mass book production. Books were very costly to purchase when they were first print, but by the 16th century, printed books became more affordable and accessible. Since the 19th century, textbooks have been the primary source of teaching for a majority of children in compulsory education. Now that we are in the 21st century, technology has changed drastically since the printing press was created. Textbooks can be now be accessed through the internet or PDF files, called e-books, as an alternative to the traditional paper version of the book.