School bookstores should buy back textbooks at a price based, in large part, on the condition of each textbook returned. Trained cashiers or other trained employees should rate the book on a three or four point system based on a variety of physical factors such as amount of underlining, highlighting, whether pages are torn or bent, condition of the cover, etc. Obviously, books in the best condition would receive the highest prices.
When these used books are sold back to students, their prices would be determined mainly by the condition of the book, using the same grading scale used to buy books from students.
Charts or informational posters describing the system and criteria used to determine the prices of used books and detailing the condition of a typical book for each category should be posted at places where used books are bought back by the school. If a book is in excellent condition and practically new receiving a four-star rating, probably 75% of the purchase price should be paid to the student. If a book received a three-star rating, perhaps 50% of the purchase price could be refunded. A book receiving a two-star rating may only be entitled to a 25% refund, of the purchase price, while a one-star rating would not be entitled to any refund.
Used Book Advertising Wall and/or Sales Booth
Every school should have a dedicated place where students can post information about textbooks they would like to sell. This dedicated place should be organized and managed by the school and be in the form of a large bulletin board, wall, or Internet page. All classes for which textbooks can be sold (the classes using the same books for the next term) should be listed along the top with lots of space underneath. Then students with either textbooks to sell or buy would walk along the wall until they come across the class for which they want to buy or sell textbooks. Sellers would place all relevant information (their name, name of textbook, price, contact telephone number, etc.) under the correct class listing and buyers would view all necessary information with which to make a decision.
An alternative method of creating an efficient market for both buyers and sellers would be for the educational institution itself to agree to be the agency that connects buyers and sellers. Sellers would leave their books at the school bookstore and when a buyer buys the book, the bookstore would keep a portion of the proceeds to fund and profit from such an operation.