These thin little unassuming pieces of paper are one of our favorite things to see when we are out buying. They are very undervalued by consumers who have them, because they are usually included in a bundle which disguises their cost & value.
What are access codes
Access codes are a doorway to restricted online content. The student enters their code, which is usually unique to each user, and now have study materials, online assignments, online quizzes & tests, and other content relating to the course they are taking. The access is usually for a specific period of time, maybe a semester for a specific class, or sometimes up to a couple years if it’s an ongoing program of study.
Great when we find them in a book
Access codes are often an overlooked source of great profit. Most book buyers we know first learn about codes by accidently finding one left in a textbook. We would encourage you to check all codes you come across for online value. Many codes have an ISBN assigned to them.
Solicit them, they are often forgotten
When we are out buying books from most sources, we ask to see what they have. After we’ve gone through everything, one way we re-approach the customer is asking for anything else, and then suggest things like access codes. It’s a great addition to the initial group you’re looking at. You’d be surprised how often a memory jog like that leads to a lot more profit.
Why would you even want to mess with access codes?
Access codes are expensive
Access codes are expensive, and we love it. It’s not uncommon for a single unused code to be worth over $100. The textbook industry invests heavy into codes because they are consumable, cheap to produce, have high resale value, and it’s easy to update content when they need to.
Don’t sell used access codes
We know it could be tempting when you run across an open or scratched off code to take your chances and list it, but the trouble that could come with it in our opinion isn’t worth it. Once a code is used, it’s essentially worthless. You don’t want to sell a code or book with a used code to a student who doesn’t understand that because it will likely result in a return and negative feedback. Yuck!
Don't Pay Too Much
Codes can be very profitable, but they also carry more risk for you when selling them. Once you sell the code, if the consumer is dishonest, they can simply register the code, and then contact Amazon claiming it was already used.
In cases like this Amazon will almost always side with the buyer and you will be left without a code to resell and out the money you spent to get it. We’ve sold codes for years, and this definitely comes up more than it should. Unfortunately there’s not much recourse, and you lose what you paid for it.
If you bought the code with that in mind, you can still do great with them, just understand the extra risk. We normally pay 10% to 20% of the price we are going to sell the code for when we purchase it.
Codes are very seasonal
When a student registers a code it is normally at the beginning of the semester. They need access to the online content that goes along with their course. Unlike a textbook however if they spill coffee on the code or lose it as long as it’s registered there is no need to replace it. It’s true that sessions are starting all the time, but most classes start in September and January. Summer sessions are smaller and just not as popular.
All the cool kids have codes
All the cool kids have access codes, or at least that’s what the publishers what you to think. Publishers are pushing codes like never before, making them indispensable to the students. Textbook reps include 8598% more codes with textbooks then they did 25 short years ago. Ok we made that number up, but they are incentivized to bundle codes with everything they can. Publishers get to sell a one-time product they have complete control over even after it’s sold. They also have a great delivery system in order to disquise the price of the code with and make it very expensive (bundle bundle bundle) Publishers can restrict access to the site after a period of time and they can also offer the professor’s online assessments that make their job much easier. Since codes are consumable, the publisher gets around the used book market like never before, which I’m sure they love. If publishers had their way, students would only use consumable material and would never resell books to others. I’m sure if publishers had the ability they would eliminate the used book market completely.
Hopefully we’ve encouraged you to take a closer look at codes while sourcing & what you may already have laying around your collection.
-Nick & Anitra
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