When you begin your search for college textbooks, you’ll find, if you haven’t already, that most of them are very expensive. Typically, you should expect to spend a few hundred dollars every semester, which can be quite a drain on your bank account. However, shopping at places like Amazon and Chegg can help keep those expenses to a minimum.
The key to buying textbooks, is to search in many different places. Rarely does your college bookstore have the best prices available, so it is important to look online, as you can find much better deals on used and even new books by buying your college textbooks online at places like Amazon. Since your college bookstore doesn’t have much competition on campus, they can keep their prices higher. But online, with the variety of book sites out there, these stores have to compete to get your purchase, so textbooks are usually offered at lower rates.
If you search online for textbooks, you could save hundreds of dollars. Often you’ll hear people complaining about spending more than $500 dollars on their books, but usually that is because they bought them from their campus bookstore. However, you can be the smarter consumer by just taking an hour or so to do your research, and you can almost always find much better deals by buying or renting your college textbooks online.
First begin by getting the ISBN numbers for your courses from either your college website or bookstore, and if they aren’t available online, write to your professors or school and ask them to give them to you. Then, search through the following sites to see which ones have the best prices available. There is a brief description of each of the sites to give you some background info. Also, check out the 6 tips at the end of the post that will help you get the best possible value when purchasing your college textbooks.
BookBagging is a great site to start because it is a one-stop shop for all of your college textbook needs. This site allows you to put in your book ISBN numbers and it will search nearly all of the sites on this top 10 list, saving you both time and money as it will list out the best prices for all of these sites. BookBagging is one of the easiest ways to find the cheapest prices for your books.
2. Amazon Textbooks
Amazon is probably one of the most trusted and most reliable brands out there, so that’s why Amazon Textbooks are a great place to start your search for the best prices.
Chegg.com is another one of the most well-know textbook sites out there, and justifiably so. Year-in and year-out, students find Chegg to be the best textbook rental site. You can almost always save a lot of money by going through Chegg for your textbooks.
Bookbyte is one more textbook site with cheap options and quick service. They advertise that most of their books are shipped within 24 hours, so you’ll get your books on time and if you need to return them if the used book you buy is not up to par, then you can quickly get a new one.
How can a place called Textbooks not be a good place to shop for your college textbooks online? You can buy or rent your books here, and they have a huge selection of used books, so you should be able to find some great deals here. Also, they have free shipping on orders over $25, so you don’t have to factor in that added expense when comparing the prices with the bookstore.
Although probably not as well known as some of the other online textbook sites, AbeBooks has a very wide selection of books available at very reasonable prices, so this might be a good option for your college textbook needs.
eCampus.com is a great place to look for college textbooks, especially used ones. Plus, they’ve added textbook rentals to their site, so this is a good place to look if you are interested in renting your books for the semester.
Alibris is another online textbook store that is known for having some of the best prices for textbooks on the internet. They have a great selection of books available and usually at pretty good prices compared to your college bookstore, so this could be a great place to start.
9. Campus Book Rentals
Campus Book Rentals is a good textbook rental site that gives you a huge inventory of books for your rental needs. They have a bundle discount when you rent three or more textbooks, so if you get a lot of your books from them, you can get extra savings. They say they are the no-nonsense approach to rentals and they live up to it by having an easy interface to navigate and clear terms for their rentals.
BookRenter is the last, but not least, site to get your textbooks from. They have over five million textbooks available to rent, so you shouldn’t have much problem finding your books here. Additionally, they allow you to write and highlight in your books, a feature that few rental sites allow, so this makes it very similar to actually owning the textbooks.
*There are plenty of other textbook stores other than the ones in this list, so if you don’t think any of the prices on these seem good for you, search around for others. Also, it might be the case that your college bookstore has better prices than any of the ones offered here, so always check them out as well.
Tip #1: While renting textbooks is usually less of an upfront cost, don’t forget to consider the money you can get back from selling them at the end of the semester. Most of the time you can get at least 50% of what you paid. Sometimes, people have even profited selling them back online!
Tip #2: If you work better writing notes in your books, then you should probably purchase your textbooks. Then the book is yours and you can mark it up all you want, without worrying about keeping it in perfect condition so that you won’t have to pay for it if you rented it. Plus, you can still sell the marked-up book back for a good percentage of what you paid.
Tip #3: If you think the price for a book is way too high and will probably come down, then wait. Often prices will fluctuate and you might be able to find a better deal later. The key is to start searching today though, so that you have time to be patient.
Tip #4: Contrary to tip #3, if you think the price of a book seems cheap, then purchase it today. If it is a good deal, you can be sure other people will act quickly and purchase it.
Tip #5: Check older editions of books. Many times there are negligible differences between old and new editions, so you can save a bundle if your professor doesn’t require the newest edition.
Tip #6: Be aware that some courses require online access codes for parts of the course, and this may only come with the purchase of a new textbook. In addition, be careful and read a full description of any used book you are buying. Most of the time you can get much better deals buying used, but sometimes these books might be very damaged or have a lot of writing in them, so try to look at any pictures and read the description before you make your purchase.
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photo credit: LifeSupercharger