Has a publisher sent you a complimentary or instructor copy of a new textbook? Textbook corporations like McGraw-Hill, Pearson, Macmillan, and Norton regularly send new textbook editions to professors for review. Most companies even allow professors to request free copies, hoping to adopt the latest edition. It is great marketing but is it legal to sell instructor edition textbooks

When a professor reviews a new course material, they can request different competing copies. Is it okay to sell the others after concluding? The publisher’s response is no, claiming they can lose millions of dollars in a year on just complimentary copies. And these copies end up on the book market. 

The textbook companies usually prompt professors not to sell instructor edition textbooks by using words such as “Not for Resale,” “Free Copy,” “Do Not Sell,” etc. 

Publishers Mix Frightening Words With Copyright Law 

Publishers usually put words together to make it look illegal to sell instructor edition textbooks. Check the below paragraph, which you may find in an instructor edition. 

“United States Copyright law guards this instructor edition against sales or dissemination of any part (including online). This work is strictly for the use of instructors in teaching their course. Any availability to students will damage the integrity of the work and is prohibited.” 

Watch closely how the publisher carefully writes the statement. They use copyright law in the first sentence and formulate words in the subsequent sentences. The publishers intentionally do this to deter people from selling the textbook. 

But if you take a second look, they try to make the reader feel they have broken the law by selling the book. However, that phrase only states that the publisher’s work is protected by copyright law, just like any other published book. 

New Editions Keep Prices And Profits High 

sell instructor edition textbooks

Is the textbook sale restriction’s purpose of keeping the prices low for students or for the college textbook industry to gain massive profits? In most cases, the new edition justification is to crush the used book market—that way, the publishers can make more money. 

Every time a new edition rolls out, all previous textbook editions already on the market become irrelevant. A college student wants to have the same edition their instructor uses to earn good grades in class. College is costly to risk it on older editions that may not be what the professor is even using. And that could lead to low grades. For most students, that means buying a new book. 

According to the publishers, when too many instructor editions get on the used market, it decreases the demand for new copies, which affects their profit and ultimately shoots up the prices. However, they also want to keep the costs high, and the complimentary copies that go to the used market increase the prices for students. 

But when they release a new edition, the primary purpose is to keep college students’ prices high. The new edition’s job is to reset the used book market, so they do not want any new editions available as “used.” That way all students will buy the brand new book. 

Additional Course Material Getting High 

Textbooks are not the only books that are getting more expensive. You need additional materials such as lab notebooks, video lectures, study guides, handbooks, etc., for many courses. Some professors develop their materials that go with the textbook, and of course, all students are required to purchase them.  

It Is Legal To Sell Instructor Edition Textbooks 

According to the Postal Reorganization Act, anyone that receives unordered merchandise can do whatever they wish with it. That being said, it is not ethical to request numerous review copies to resell them for profit. That is what some publishers claim some instructors are doing. 

So you can sell your review copies online. You can use our price comparison tool to help you get the best offer. The instructor edition textbooks are similar to the student edition, except that it might say “Instructor Edition” on the front cover. 

The book is also suitable for college students to buy and use and in class unless it states “annotated.” The ISBN for instructor editions usually is different. 

What If You Donate The Instructor Editions? 

sell instructor edition textbooks

Some people follow the publishers’ warnings and decide to donate their textbook copies. You can find book drops in college towns and major cities.

However, it is worth stating that donated textbooks, including instructor editions, are usually resold by the organizations running the donation centers. These books will get to the market one way or another. It is just a matter of who gets the money. 


It is not legal to sell instructor edition textbooks. However, you should not sell them on Amazon. That is because Amazon agrees with the publishers, and they can shut down your account. They have shut down numerous accounts of people that sold vast volumes of instructor edition copies. It is not illegal. But Amazon’s terms and conditions prohibit selling products that are marked “Not For Resale.” Sometimes, some students remove the barcodes and replace them with student edition barcodes. That is not ethical, and we advise against it. What you can do is to sell the textbooks at places that will accept them. That is where we come in. Visit our website and start selling your books online. If you have any questions, contact us, and we will gladly assist you.