A textbook exchange is a business that buys and sells college textbooks. Textbooks can represent a significant portion of a student’s education budget. By purchasing used textbooks or selling unneeded books to a textbook exchange, students can reduce their expenses significantly. Such exchanges were once available only near large universities. Today, online textbook exchanges offer the service to nearly all locations.
Unlike the textbooks used in public education courses, college textbooks are required for only a small percentage of the university student population. They are often written by experts in a given field and sometimes by college professors themselves. As a result, textbooks are often very expensive. The average student can spend a small fortune on required textbooks for a single semester. This is especially true if the student is studying a specialized field, such as medicine or computer programming.
Traditionally, university bookstores were the only sources for required textbooks. The success of bookstores that buy and sell used books inspired some businesses to emulate the process for textbooks. A textbook exchange will purchase textbooks from students who have completed courses and no longer need the bulky materials. This means the business can re-sell the used book at a fraction of its original cost. This can be a huge boon to students who are struggling to meet their tuition and living expenses.
The textbook exchange has also increased the options for students seeking required texts. Textbook exchanges on the Internet can accept used books from students anywhere in the world and deliver them almost anywhere through standard package delivery services. This means students are not limited to the books available at their local university bookstore. They can compare prices on a national or even international level and choose the most reasonably priced editions. This changes the supply-and-demand economic factors that create high prices for most textbooks.
In fact, enterprising business students have even created their own online textbook exchanges from time to time. In addition to easing the financial burden on their fellow students, the business also gives the students experience in business skills such as online marketing, pricing structures, and maintaining profit margins. At least one such service compares prices for a given textbook from online bookstores as well as university stores. Many online bookstores also buy and sell used textbooks, offering essentially the same service as a textbook exchange. While the cost of a university education can still be prohibitive for many prospective students, services such as these can make the expense more manageable.