UPDATE: Amazon has unfortunately ended the textbook buyback program.
See the details below.
Amazon officially ended the textbook buyback program on April 1, 2020. No, it wasn't an April Fools' Day joke, and worse, there was no explanation provided as to why it shut down.
The blog over at Cash4Books speculates that the end of the program could have been related to a couple of different issues. They suggest Amazon vendors who participated were being sued by textbook publishers, due to the program being a source of counterfeit textbooks.
Cash4Books also suggests that another reason for the end of the program could be simply due to Amazon focusing on textbook rentals whether than outright selling them. The online retailer has a huge inventory of textbooks now, so taking more through trade in isn't a prudent decision for them.
How Does Amazon Textbook Buyback Work?
While Amazon Textbook Buyback used to be a standalone service, the megaretailer now accepts textbooks through the Amazon Trade-In program. Selling your books works just like selling your electronics. Here's the process:
Go to Amazon's Trade-In page.
Note that books are trickier to find here than electronics, because Amazon doesn't do much to highlight its book buybacks.
Scroll down to "Other Trade-In Categories."
Then click on "Books" to bring up a search.
Enter the textbook's ISBN.
You can find the ISBN on the back cover of the book near the bar code. Many textbooks have two ISBNs listed; be sure to try both.
The textbook edition makes a big difference in the sale price, so take particular care to select the right book in your search. If nothing comes up in your ISBN search, Amazon isn't buying that specific book.
What Textbooks Will Amazon Buy?
Amazon primarily wants the latest-edition textbooks in excellent condition. However, there are no hard-and-fast rules on which books Amazon will buy. It doesn't hurt to find out whether they want yours!
What Will Amazon Pay for Textbooks?
Sometimes Amazon offers the best price for a book, and sometimes it offers the worst price — or won't buy it at all. Unlike electronics, which tend to have competitive trade-in prices no matter where you sell them, textbook prices are all over the map.
As with electronics, Amazon Trade-In's convenience factor may win out over price. If Amazon offers a reasonable price, it's a very easy way to sell your books. However, it's always important to compare prices when you're selling textbooks.
Do Your Books Have to Be in Good Condition?
Amazon doesn't offer a range of prices for textbooks. If they're in good condition, Amazon will likely buy them. If they're falling apart, it won't. Amazon is relatively demanding about the quality of textbooks.
The cover and binding must be intact, without torn pages or water damage. There can't be any notes or names on the cover, and the interior of the book can't have "excessive" writing or highlighting. Instead of offering lower prices for damaged books, Amazon simply won't buy them.
Where Can You Check Textbook Prices?
However, you can save a lot of time by using BookScouter. This site checks textbook resale prices on a multitude of options at once.