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Textbook sellback is an important part of the Cowley Bookstore's total textbook program. Buying textbooks back from students helps us to keep an extensive selection of used books in stock, and enables us to pay students for textbooks which will be required by a Cowley College course the following semester. The following information contains answers to the questions most frequently asked about sellback.

Sellback Frequently Asked Questions

Why does the Cowley Bookstore offer a sellback service?
There are two reasons: one is to establish a means for students to dispose of texts no longer needed or wanted; the other is to obtain a supply of required books that can be resold to students at the lowest possible price. Although we aggressively shop the used book wholesalers, our best source of used books is still our own students.

When is sellback?
Students can expect to receive the best pricing for used textbooks during the posted sellback period, typically held during final exam week at the conclusion of each semester.

Summer 2024 Fall 2024
July 29 - August 2 December 9 - 19

How do I return my textbooks?
If your textbook is listed on the current Sellback List, and is in re-sellable used condition, the Bookstore will pay you CA$H for your textbooks. Textbooks can be returned using one of the three methods below:
  • Visit the Cowley Bookstore – Students will receive CA$H for textbooks when visiting the Cowley Bookstore located at 207 W. 5th Ave in Arkansas City. Cowley student ID card is required!
  • Book Drop – Students who are unable to return textbook during store hours, can also utilize the Book Drop. Located on the west side of the Bookstore near the alley, the Book Drop is available 24/7. Textbooks deposited into the Book Drop must include a Textbook Return Form to ensure that credit is accurately applied to your student account at Cowley.
  • Ship Your Textbooks - Textbooks can shipped to the Cowley Bookstore with shipping expenses paid by the student. All shipments must include a Textbook Return Form to ensure that credit is accurately applied to your student account at Cowley.
Do I need my sales receipt to sell books?
No. While a receipt is required to return books for a 100% refund during the full return period, you do NOT need a receipt to sell books at sellback. The only thing you need to bring to sellback is your Cowley student ID card and your textbooks.

How does the bookstore determine which books to buy?
The selection of textbooks is always dependent on whether or not the book will be used in the upcoming term. As textbooks are approved for use in an upcoming semester, the bookstore compiles a list of textbooks that will be bought back from students.

Next, using class enrollments and existing book inventories, our textbook manager determines the quantity of each book which can be purchased at sellback.

Why are some books worth so much more than others?
The best price is always paid for textbooks purchased for the Cowley Bookstore for the upcoming semester. If your book is in reasonable condition and will be used for a Cowley College course in the upcoming semester, the Bookstore will pay you up to 50% of the new textbook price. For example, a textbook with a new price of $100 could be worth $50 if purchased for the Cowley Bookstore.

If a textbook is not needed at Cowley College for the coming semester, it may still be possible to sell it through the Bookstore to a used book wholesaler. This is a special service we offer to students who wish to sell their books even though we can't buy them at the higher bookstore price. Used book wholesalers base the price they will pay for a book on their perceived "marketability" of that particular book. Wholesale companies typically pay between 10% and 30% of the new book price for current editions of textbooks they can resell to other colleges and universities nationwide.

In some cases, there are limits to the quantity of textbooks the Bookstore needs of a certain title. Once the Bookstore has reached its quota of such a book, we can only offer the ‘wholesale’ value, i.e. the price the wholesaler will pay for that book. If for example, the bookstore needs only 50 copies of a book, we will pay up to 50% of the new price for the first 50 textbooks we buy. Any books purchased after that will be purchased for the wholesale market at the wholesale price.

Why do some books have no value to either the bookstore or a used book wholesaler?
Some of the most common reasons for a book to have no resale value are listed below.
  • The book is an old edition - The average life of a textbook is about three years. The closer a book gets to this point, the less wholesale value it has. In general, it is best to sell your books as soon as possible after you have determined you no longer need or want them.
  • The book is in unsaleable condition - Examples would include books with lost, torn or illegible covers, water damage, missing pages, contents separated from covers, loose bindings, or excessive highlighting which would make the book useless to the next person who buys it. We reserve the right to refuse any book that in our judgment has deteriorated to an unsalable condition.
  • The book is consumable - In general, we do not buy back workbooks, lab manuals, study guides, solutions manual, loose leaf textbooks, books with perforated pages, and access codes.
Anything else I should know about sellback?
We can't give specific buyback information over the telephone. It is simply too busy in the store and only the textbook buyers at the sellback counter have the updated information necessary to give the right answers.

Finally, there is never a guarantee that textbooks you purchase will be used again by any instructor anywhere in the country. Textbooks are a learning tool, and hopefully, valuable to your education. You should not buy books with expectation of reselling every one of them; that happens in very few cases. The real value of a book is obtained by studying it carefully. If it can be resold when no longer needed, that is an added bonus.


Contact us anytime with questions or concerns via email at bookstore@cowley.edu. You can also call us during regular business hours at 620.441.5277.