Student Life

Don't Pay for Textbooks: Organize a Book Swap

Lauren Bayne Anderson

January 25, 2010

Don't Pay for Textbooks: Organize a Book Swap
Tired of giving all your cash to the campus bookstore? Angry about the high prices they charge for even used books? Well, you and your friends don’t have to take it anymore. Organize a textbook swap! When hosted at a central location on campus it’s a great way for you—and hundreds of your campus cohorts to get your textbooks for FREE. It's easy to set up and even better, it's easy on your wallet.

Here’s how:
  1. Reserve a room on campus for the date and time of your choosing—preferably once students have selected their classes and course book lists have been made available, but before the new classes are in full swing. If the swap will take place with the start of the new semester, spread the word about the swap at the end of the previous semester, before students sell their books back to the bookstore.
  2. Post fliers on campus and in the student newspaper advertising the event and the cut off date for donations. If you’d like, you can include a list of highly coveted titles that are popular for certain classes.
  3. Have students drop off books at a central location in advance and keep a master list of donations. Students who have donated will be eligible to participate in the swap, so give them a voucher for the “resell value” of the books they’ve donated (what the campus bookstore would charge for the same book). They’ll be able to walk away with other books equaling the value of the books they donated.
  4. Before the swap officially begins, organize the books by subject or class.
  5. When the swap is over, plan what you’ll do with the leftovers. For example: Once all the students with vouchers have chosen their books, open up the swap to other students who can pay a cut-rate price for the leftovers. You can also donate them to the bookstore and give the cash they earn to a campus organization or charity of your choosing. Or, donate the books directly to a library or a local underprivileged school.
If you love the idea, but aren’t up to taking on the project alone, get a campus organization you participate in involved. In addition to the money you’ll save on textbooks, it’s a great way to get some organizational leadership experience to put on your resume. The organization will also pick up the tab for the fliers and advertising fees-- in addition to adding some helpful hands.

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