Textbooks | Web Update

Students consider options for selling back costly textbooks

Published: April 30, 2013, 7:21 pm ET
Collegian Reporter

As the spring 2013 semester draws to a close, students consider their options for selling back textbooks.

Purchasing textbooks is often a heavy financial burden for students. Junior Danielle Frappolli said she had books costing up to $250 each.

At the end of each semester, students have options, both on campus and with outside companies, for selling back their books in the hopes of receiving some of their money back.

One option that has been growing in popularity in recent years is selling books to Belltower Books, a company started in 2004 by two Cornell University undergraduates.

Lauren Shute, the “team captain” for Belltower’s Richmond chapter, said students who wished to sell their books could call or email one of the seven campus representatives. Representatives are undergraduate students who make a 6 percent commission off of the books they buy back, Shute said.

Belltower Books is more convenient than other options because the representatives come right to the sellers’ dorm room or apartment, Shute said.

Sophomore Murphy Shannon rents her textbooks each semester from the online company Chegg, she said. Chegg rents students textbooks for a fraction of the selling price and allows students to send them back at no charge at the end of the semester. Amazon has a similar model, Shannon said.

Shannon said she thought the saved money was worth the extra time it took to send the books back at the end of the semester.

Richmond has recently adopted the renting model as well. Beginning in the 2011-2012 school year, the bookstore began to offer students a rental option, where students could pay a lesser price and return the book after each semester’s exam period, said Sabiha Edrenic, a bookstore employee.

Edrenic said the rental option had been popular among students, and she thought they were grateful for the opportunity to save money.

Frappolli said this model had eased the financial burden of buying textbooks, but that the price of books was still a source of frustration for her. Frappolli, a rhetoric and communications major and business administration minor, said her business textbooks tended to be the most expensive, but that she has had expensive books in most of the subjects she had taken at Richmond.

“It’s ridiculous,” Frappolli said. “I’ve bought books for $200 and got $20 back for them at the end of the semester. I think professors need to realize that we are paying a lot in tuition, room and board and for food. If they don’t absolutely need a book in class, don’t require us to buy it.”

Contact reporter Molly Gentzel at

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  • Jeff F

    I work for Belltower Books and its actually a commission scale that increases from 6%. Also, you might want to do a price comparison on rentals. A number of studies have shown that the cost of rentals are greater than the money lost between the buy and sell price for a book.

  • Snog Vlog

    You can always sell back your books on I’ve done it and gotten way more for them then the store would give me.

  • Snog Vlog

    Oh and you can also buy, and rent from them too and they have ebooks saved a ton of money last semester.