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A Guide to Buy and Sell Textbooks: What the Industry Wants to Keep Hidden

Who’s Who In The Textbook Industry?

Textbook publishing is a business just like any other. At the very top of the textbook industry hierarchy you will find three main publishers.

1. Pearson
2. Cengage
3. McGraw-Hill

These three publishers produce nearly 75 % and sell textbooks directly in the US. Each of these publishers reaps about a 20 % share of the sales. In addition to these main players, there are a few lesser publishers including:

* Georg von Holtzbrinck
* John Wiley & Sons
* Wolters Kluwer NV
* Reed Elsevier

It is important to understand that the profit margin in the book industry is very high. Monies on when you sell textbooks online hover up to 60% of the original retail price of the book.

What Happens after Textbooks Leave the Publisher?

For the most part, publishers sell college textbooks (usually at net cost) to universities and colleges where they end up in campus bookstores. Of course, the aim of the college or University is to provide a high quality of education that will ensure they successfully stay in business. Campus bookstores share this motivation along with a need to make a profit.

University and college bookstores generally add a gross profit margin to a book’s cost to create the selling price. This profit margin is usually about 25 %. It is important to realize that the store has paid certain costs to get the textbook, such as shipping costs and the basic costs of storing, managing and selling the book inventory. In college, university and truth bookstores usually only see a little under a 4 % profit on book sales.

What About Big Chain Stores?

Large chain such as Barnes & Noble and Follett sell textbooks back not only in their campus bookstores, but also in their national chain stores and online. Naturally, their motivation lies in profit and success. It’s important to note that to attain the second part of their goal (success) it may be in their best interests to charge the most competitive prices.

Be that as it may, for standard textbooks, the net price of the book is generally pretty much the same for campus bookstores and for big chains. Still, there can be some difference in the retail price of a textbook from one store to another.

One area where students can really save money on books required for coursework is when purchasing nontraditional books for courses in the social sciences, humanities and the like. These types of books are not actually textbooks and are subject to a wide range of conditions when prices are determined.

How Do Professors Contribute to the High Cost of Books?

Ideally, college and university professors should be motivated by the desire to provide their students with a high quality of education. Professors have the deciding voice as to which books are used in their classes. Very often, they make these decisions based on a book publisher’s recommendations, and they do not actually take the time to review the materials that they require their students to purchase.

Because professors do make the final recommendations and decisions regarding textbooks, they are heavily targeted by book sales representatives. Publishers are very fond of bundling expensive packages together that include CDs and other “extras” that add a great deal of cost to books without necessarily adding much in terms of value.

What Options Do Students Have?

Because the cost of textbooks is high from start to finish, students are always on the lookout for ways to save money on books. This is why approximately 35 % of the textbook industry today is made up of the used book/textbook buyback market. Unfortunately, the rising popularity of purchasing and selling used textbooks has spurred publishers to revise their texts more and more frequently and at high cost. This means that textbooks become “obsolete” very quickly.

Of course, the intent of the textbook publishers was to force their captive audience to have to buy new textbooks; however, it didn’t work out that way. These days many students are simply refusing to buy textbooks at all. Instead, they:.

* Attend class, listen carefully and take good notes.
* Rely on photocopies of other students’ books.
* Borrow other students textbooks.
* Find pirated text online.
* Rent textbooks.

What’s the Best Solution to the Textbook Cost Quandary?

It seems apparent that the industry as it now stands is destined to go the way of the dinosaur. Its business model has been set up to generate hefty profits from the time they sell books to buyback to reselling used books. Changes will have to be made because the end consumers of the industry have wised up and become stubborn in their resistance to being fleeced.

Consideration for sell back your books, it is hoped that professors will become more aware and more diligent in textbook selection. They should make an effort to continue use of the same book over a period of years and not give in to the textbook industries’ claims of obsolescence. This sort of diligence on the part of professors will make it possible for students to take advantage of money-saving textbook buyback companies that offer gently used, high quality textbooks at reasonable prices.

While students are to be lauded for their creativity and independent spirit, it’s important to note that attempting to gain knowledge without any solid reference is pretty risky business. Combining the use of established, well-written textbooks with good classroom attendance and attention, along with the wealth of online materials available to students today, college and university students can feel sure of getting the best and most up-to-the-minute information available in any given subject.