Buying and selling textbooks on-line saves money

UM students are always complaining about the cost of the UM Bookstore and about the lack of buy-back potential of the books they buy. However, several options are becoming increasingly popular among UM students for both purchasing and selling back their textbooks.
According to UM administration, the average cost of books for a student is $775.00 per year. Unfortunately, some students spend far more on their textbooks.
“I spent $450.00 this semester,” junior Sandra Trip said. “It seems like books are getting more expensive every semester.”
Students do have options, though, when it comes to buying their books.
“UM students have it better off than other schools,” said Will Sekoff of Book Horizons. “They have two well-run bookstores nearby to get their books from.”
Many students believe the UM Bookstore has a large selection and is easily accessible.
“I like that the Bookstore is so close, but I hate waiting in the long lines,” sophomore Dan Blanchard said.
Book Horizons, located across US-1 next to Burger King, is celebrating its 50th year in business this month.
“We’ve been here a long time so we have a great reputation for service,” Sekoff said.
Students seem to agree.
“I like Book Horizons better because it’s smaller and there are always people willing to help me find my books,” sophomore Jake Soule said. “Plus, they are so organized that there is never a line.”
Other popular options among students include various websites such as,, and
“‘ve bought my books online before. It’s a lot cheaper than the bookstore is,” senior Heather Johnston said.
Some students have reservations about purchasing their textbooks online.
“I know that I could probably find books cheaper online, but then there is the shipping charge and having to wait for the books to arrive,” Traip said.
“The feedback that I get from students about purchasing their textbooks online is that it can be difficult to make sure you get the right edition for the right class,” Sekoff said. “Plus, you’re lacking the personal service, right books and easy returns that a bookstore can give you.”
However, most students are equally concerned about the buy-back price of a book.
“I bought a book last year for $100, but when I went to sell it back I only got $15,” Blanchard said. “I couldn’t believe it.”
Buy-back typically takes place at the end of the semester during finals. At that time, you can sell your book back to the bookstore or online.
“We buy back books for the following term, so if a professor is using the book again then we will buy it back for up to 50% of the cost,” said Richard Dunham, textbook manager at the UM Bookstore. “Once we have met our buy-back quota, the remaining books will get only the wholesale value of the book.”
According to UM Bookstore and Book Horizons representatives, timing is everything when it comes to buy-back.
“Sometimes I tell students to wait until April before bringing their books back because they will make more money that way,” Dunham said.
“We try to give students something for their old books because lots of times the Bookstore gives them nothing,” said Paul Strassburg, textbook manager at Book Horizons.
If the buy-back price offered to students is too low, students can sell their books online. However, although selling online can yield a higher return, students say it also takes much more time and effort.
“I’ve heard that you can make a lot of money selling your books online, but I’m just too lazy to go through all of the work,” Blanchard said.
Overall, there are a lot of options out there when it comes to buying or selling books. It’s just a matter of knowing where, when and how to look.

Leigha Taber can be contacted at

January 24, 2003


The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.