We heard from a number of our contacts at bookstores that buyback was slower than expected this year. Many asked, "Where did all of our books go?"
We wanted to know too, so we went out and did the research. We asked a sample of college students across the United States, "What did you do with most of your textbooks at the end of the semester?" Here's what we found:
- 45% keep their books
- 21% rent or use e-textbooks and cannot sell them
- 15% sell their textbooks online through Amazon, Half, eBay, etc.
- 10% sell back to the bookstore
- 9% sell to another student on campus.
What does this mean?
The good news: Most of the books that you need for your campus bookstore are already sitting on your students' bookshelves. If you can find a way to motivate the students on your campus to sell back their books, your students are still your best source for used textbooks.
The bad news: Motivating students to come into the bookstore is tough, but we've got some ideas.
What to do?
We talk to a lot of bookstores, and love to hear what they are trying. Here are some ways that our friends at bookstores are increasing buyback:
Let students check buyback prices from home - It can be hard to motivate students to come into your store outside of rush, but they shouldn't have to come into the store to check a buyback price. Amazon lets them check buyback prices from home and so should your store. Whether it is a mobile app or website, provide a way for students to check your buyback prices year-round.
Find creative ways to remind students about buyback - The end of the year isn't the only time students should be thinking about buyback. Mention it during rush or put a flyer in the book to remind students to sell back. The last thing a student sees when she puts a book on the shelf is the spine, so put stickers on the spines of your books to remind students to sell their books back.
Run a daily buyback for your store, especially during rush - Many stores do this, but many more don't. If a student comes to your store with a textbook that you need, your staff should always be able to buy that book.
Run the student textbook exchange - Do not fear student-to-student sales; leverage them. Student-to-student sales are happening on Facebook, in residence halls, and on Google Docs. Many schools we've talked to run student-to-student textbook exchanges. Some stores use their textbook exchanges to directly contact students who are selling books that they are buying back.
Share your ideas in the comments - Some of the best ideas for increasing buyback come from your fellow bookstores. What have you done? What are others doing? Share in the comments.
We want to help.
We help bookstores supercharge their buyback. We reach students on their mobile phones and help stores source more books directly from their students. To learn more, let us know who you are and we'll be in touch.