How To Return Your Graduation Gifts for Cash and Credit


Oprah Winfrey might have more than $2.5 billion tucked under her proverbial mattress, but when she recently addressed Stanford’s class of 2008, she apologized for the gifts she brought for the some 4,600 graduates.

“I really wanted to give you cars . . . just couldn’t pull that off,” she said. Instead, the media mogul surprised each student with a different parting gift – two of her favorite self-help books. The gifts included Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose ($14, paperback) and Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future ($15, paperback).

“Money is pretty nice," she told the crowd of over 25,000."I like money. It's good for buying things. But having a lot of money does not automatically make one a successful person.” True. But, money is pretty useful to recent graduates, and a good reason to cash in on gifts like books you honestly may never read (even if they are from Oprah), or got five copies of Dr. Seuss; Oh, The places You Will Go.

Let MainStreet show you how:

At a used book store, such as the Strand Bookstore in New York City. At The Strand, potential sellers can bring in up to four copies of the same book, and according to employee Jenny McKibben, books are bought based on their ability to sell. A graduate looking to ditch several books can do so in one swoop at The Strand, rather than turning to eBay (EBAY), Craigslist or eBid.

You’ll have less luck at Barnes & Noble (BKS). According to its return policy, gift receipts will only get you a gift card. And like every store, attempting to make return without a receipt.

But selling—whether it’s a book or clothing—and returning, are very different. As a seller, you can to set your own price and create online commerce. For Stanford graduates peddling their newly acquired gifts from Winfrey, sites like Amazon (AMZN) and Barnes & Noble might be the way to go. Daniel Pink’s book is currently ranked at #244 on, with used copies selling for as little as $3.21 to a whopping $99. Tolle’s A New Earth fares considerably better with the public. The inspirational reading is ranked #6, and also holds a spot in Oprah’s Book Club. Since Winfrey’s commencement address, sales increased by 25% for Tolle’s audio book on Amazon’s Movers & Shakers list.

So smarten up grads: It’s time to cash in!




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