When you’re shopping around for the best deal on college textbooks, there are a few options to choose from: brand new, used, textbook rentals, and digital/eBooks. While many students prefer to buy new, renting textbooks and used textbooks are generally cheaper. However, they only have value if they aren’t damaged in any way. The following guide will walk you through a checklist of things to look out for when buying textbooks which make them less useful to you or reduce their resale value in the future.

1. What counts as a damaged textbook?

Damaged textbooks can be difficult to spot. Even so, there are telltale signs that you can use as a general guideline. The term damaged textbook refers to textbooks that have a mark or tear in the pages, missing sections or portions of pages, binding damage, improper use by previous owners (such as highlighting) etc. It is always worth spending some time inspecting a used textbook before buying it to make sure you are not inheriting any issues with the book. If there are any sections in the book that are missing and cannot be easily replaced, such as charts or diagrams that may not be available in other editions of the same book, this can become an issue later on and affect your grades.

A few other examples of textbook damage are:

  • Water damage
  • Torn/missing pages
  • Discolored pages or cover
  • Damaged binding
  • Paper foxing (small yellow brown spots or blotches on paper).
  • Highlighting or drawing/writing in the book.
  • Missing electronic content such as CDs or online access codes.

2. What are the common ways textbooks get damaged?

Many students are unaware of the risks involved with buying cheap textbooks or renting a text book. Buying used college books can be risky, because you always run the chance that the previous owner may have damaged it. That’s why it’s important to purchase a book through a reliable and trusted source who inspects each book before shipping, like eCampus.com. Still, damage can occur after the textbook has shipped. Here are a few common ways your book may get damaged:

  • Water damage from humid/damp storage conditions, or during shipping and transportation.
  • Cigarette smoke (or any smoke, in general).
  • Frequent exposure to high UV or camera flashes (this mainly affects delicate drawings/diagrams).
  • Insects/bugs that chew through papers.
  • Metal traces from paper manufacturing, which can create an acidic environment between pages and ruin them.
  • High temperature or pollutant environments.
  • Mold, dust, food stains, and fingerprints.
  • Handling, such as during shipping and receiving.

3. What should you do if your book is damaged?

The first thing a student should do when receiving their college textbook is checking to ensure it isn’t damaged. If it is determined that there is damage, take notes of the nature of the damage, and snap a few photos of it. The store which you bought it from may require proof of damage for the return process. It would also be wise to contact the seller to verify their process for returning the damaged merchandise. For instance, if you purchased it from eCampus, you could visit the eCampus.com Help Desk to see frequently asked questions or to contact us.

4. What can you do to protect your book from damage?

You just received your textbooks, and fortunately, there is no damage! That’s great! What next? Now you must keep it in good condition while you own it. This is especially true if you want to increase its value for resale. Here are a few things you can do to ensure your textbook stays in excellent condition while it’s yours:

  • Always store the book flat on its back, especially when not in use. This will help protect the spine from stress.
  • When taking notes, use a separate notebook or pad of paper to avoid writing on your textbook. Never write directly on your book cover or inside cover pages or use highlighters anywhere on page, unless, of course, it’s a one-time-use book.
  • Get some good quality protective covers for your textbooks. They’re relatively inexpensive and well worth it! Covers come in lots of sizes and types to suit any budget and style preference. Some are leather or plastic cases which can be used as a stand. You can also find covers with pockets, page flags and lots more great features like zipper closure that protects inside contents while also preventing spills if they get knocked over during use.
  • Don’t leave your textbook in hot or cold places. Extreme temperature changes can affect binding and damage pages over time. If you’re leaving it in a car on a sunny day, make sure you have it covered with something like a heavy blanket or newspaper.
  • Keep food and drinks away from your book as these may cause stains and promote the growth of mold/mildew between pages. If you accidentally spill something, wipe it up immediately using damp cloth, then dry with a cloth to prevent further damage.

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