Textbook Buyback

How the buyback works

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Each semester, only during finals week, the NCU Bookstore operates a textbook buyback, offering you cash or credit for books that you don’t wish to keep.

If books are being used here at NCU next semester, we will give you a fair market buying price, regardless of whether you purchased it new or used, from the NCU bookstore or from somewhere else. If a book will be used in an upcoming semester, we will ask you to hold on to that book until our next buyback.

At the same time, we also buy many titles as a sourcing partner of Nebraska Book Company (NBC), and can offer you their current buying price—usually between 15-40% of retail price. While it’s not as much as NCU's buying rate, it's better than nothing.

Unfortunately, instructors change, course books are revised, and so please remember we cannot buy every book. We are only able to buy books that are scheduled for use here on the campus next semester, or what can be sold to NBC.  For books we can't buy, we'd suggest you keep them for reference, sell or loan it to another student, or drop them in our Better World Books collection box for African World Relief.

Let us do the work

 Selling books online involves packing, shipping costs, and following thru to ensure that you are paid properly. Even if you aren't able to receive top dollar on your book sale, you are guaranteed to get a fair purchase price based upon the market value of your book, and we can look at our book database to help you understand why the pricing is set the way it is. 

NCU bookstore staff recommendations

  1. Buy used books when they are available.  They are the best value for your educational dollar. If you enjoy the book and determine that you probably will keep the book once the class is concluded, you might wish to return the used book and purchase a NEW book instead (within our 5 day return policy, please.)
  2. Rent your textbooks, if possible.  Renting a book saves you money at the beginning of the semester, and means not risking a buyback at the end of the semester- if a book goes out of print and becomes devalued, or if NCU drops the title and suddenly there is no buyback value, the liability is with the book owner, and not with you.
  3. Buy or Rent eBooks. If the title is one that you're not interested in keeping long-term, consider buying an access code to read the content of your books online on the store custom website.  Some book publishers make their eBooks available for either purchase or rental, but both options are less expensive then purchasing a printed book.
  4. At the end of the semester, attempt to sell to the Bookstore what you don't wish to keep. Remember, we buy based upon instructor-completed course requests for the upcoming term, and we always give the best buying price possible to books "on-deck" for the next term, so as an example you might get a better buying price from the bookstore if you keep a "fall" book until our spring buyback, when we're again buying used books for fall classes. If you sell us a book at the end of the term, we might be buying the books to send them away from our campus, and you will only receive a 15-40% retail buy (market value.) The gamble, of course, is whether that book will be picked up for repeat use, which we can't guarantee.  
  5. Be true to your school!  Selling books to NCU means more used books for students during the next semester. If you have any questions, ask a cashier and we'll do our best to recommend whether to buy or keep!  


Why we don't offer a buyback all year 

Many college and university bookstores have begun offering an on-going textbook buying program. This is to compete with volume wholesalers, such as Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com, Varsity Books, and other online vendors who are able to buy books at a lower buying price, based upon the assumption that their speculative buying will pay off. Because there is a built-in gamble, the buying price is lower, and the seller loses money.  At NCU we've decided to only fund our buyback once each semester- during finals week, when course requests for the upcoming semester have been made, which allows us to offer the highest buying price to our customers for the books that they wish to sell.

Where the New Book Dollar Goes

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The image at left shows the portion of student dollars that go to the publisher (for paper, printing, and editorial costs, general/administrative expenses, marketing, author income, and publisher income) and the portion that goes to the typical college bookstore (for personnel and labor, freight, operations, and store income) from new textbook sales. 

The total amount of the dollar going to the college store represents 24.1 cents or 24.1%. This, as reported by the National Association of College Stores (NACS), is an average for stores all across the country. At NCU, we actually fall  below this national average.

The overall gross margin of 20.8% is a blend between the publisher’s suggested list price and the actual selling price which is reflective of availability, market price, demand, competition and inherent risk) and often lowers the retail price, leading to a reduction in the gross margin.


NCU has joined the Used Textbook Association (www.usedtextbookassociation.org) to work on behalf of of our students to lower the cost of textbooks and provide high-quality educational materials. 

IB ImageOur Goals are to make used textbooks more available by:

    -    eliminating unnecessary bundling, built-in obsolescence, and new editions

    -    increasing on-time textbook adoptions from your professors

The Benefits to our students:

    - students get more money for textbooks during our semester buybacks

    - we have more USED textbooks available to buy during the semester

    - reduced costs of textbooks