The lazy, rich student's option for trading in textbooks

Updated has launched a new system to allow customers to trade in their old textbooks. Just type in the ISBN, find out how much your book is worth, print out the shipping label, and get a gift card once the book arrives at Amazon. Amazon only accepts books in good condition.

Sound easy? It sure does. And if money isn't tight and you can't be bothered to maximize value for your old books, it's a great option -- if you like Amazon store credit.

But for students with a bit more time, it's easy to get more value. Amazon seems to pay around half of cover price for recent titles. For instance, a copy of The History of Modern Art will net you $47.55. But if you listed it in Amazon's used marketplace, you could underprice the competition by listing it for just $89 -- and probably sell it quickly.

Selling books direct to other students will always offer the most bang for the buck -- by selling to Amazon, you invite in a middleman which has to pay a low enough price to earn some profit -- and cover the cost of shipping the book twice instead of once. Trade-in programs are just not as efficient as the deals made possible by sites like and the Amazon Marketplace.

Is there a place for Amazon's new trade-in system? Absolutely. But if you're as cash-strapped as most students are, it's worth the extra effort to list it on Amazon or yourself.