Many things contribute to the overall cost of college. But textbooks can really put a dent in your wallet if you don't know where to look. Finding the best places to buy textbooks is an important part of keeping college costs low.
Since textbooks are required for most classes, purchasing them isn't really an option. But, there are plenty of alternative places to seek them out besides your campus bookstore.Knowing the ISBN of your book will ensure you are getting the correct copy. Then hit one of the many online stores that offer used textbooks, such as Abebooks, Amazon, or Chegg. Renting your textbook can save you even more money.
Best Places To Buy Textbooks
With the advent of online stores specializing in college textbooks, we have many options at our fingertips. The trick is who has the best deal on the specific books we need? Here are a few of our favorite options to choose from in the textbook realm.
AbeBooks has a search engine that compares book prices on multiple sites, as well as their own. They understand that they may not always have the best deal on the book you are looking for. But even so, their deals can be as much as 75% off of the retail price. You can also sell back your old books, to make a little bit of side cash. This site has been around for quite a while and has a great reputation for accuracy, quality, price, and service.
Everyone knows about Amazon.com. They sell pretty much everything, and textbooks aren't excluded from that list. Sometimes they have the best prices but not always. The perk of shopping on Amazon is that they have a lot of used and refurbished options at lower prices than the new versions. Plus, the shipping is free in most cases if you are a Prime member. You may be able to get same-day delivery on some books if your local warehouse has them in stock.
CampusBooks.com is one of the longer-standing textbook websites. They have a wide range of textbooks, a great comparison tool, and exclusive coupons. CampusBooks says you can save up to 90% off the retail price, but the average savings rate hovers around 60% off the retail price. It all depends on the books you are searching for and how much stock they have.
Chegg is a well-known textbook website. It has a detailed search engine to show you the physical textbook version, the digital version, and what it would cost to rent. These options help you make a more educated decision as to which direction you want and/or need to go with your textbooks.
In a lot of cases, they are able to save you up to 90% of the retail price on your books. They are also well known for their book buyback program, so you can make back some of the money spent at the end of the semester.
CollegeBooksDirect.com only sells books that they have in stock and they ship the same day. This could be an important factor for you, especially if you need the book quickly. The last thing you need is to get a great price on your textbooks and then not have them show up until halfway through the semester because they weren't in stock.
eCampus is one of the most well known online stores for good textbooks and good prices. They have a huge rental textbook program also, which can save you even more money. The perk of renting is that you don't have to worry about selling back your old books at the end of the semester.
Redshelf is known for its wide and diverse digital library. If one of your textbooks has a digital option, then it will probably be on Redshelf. They offer digital options at even bigger discounts than physical textbooks and their platform comes with a huge variety of study guide tools. This is certainly a big perk compared to other retailers.
Textbooks.com is a straightforward site. They offer one of the largest selections of physical, digital, and rental textbooks. The buying process is easy, as is their search tool. They will also buy back most books at the end of the semester for a decent amount. This site has no bells or whistles, so if you like plain and simple, this is the way to go.
Textbook Underground is another site that is pretty straightforward. You can buy physical or digital copies and also rent books for different periods of time. If you only need a book for a certain project, paper, or test, then you can rent it for that amount of time and pay less than renting it for the whole semester.
If you are feeling old fashioned, or like to support local businesses, then searching for a physical location may be for you. Of course, you can always search out your University book store. They might have deals or specials but they are notoriously high on their textbook prices.
Another option is to stick with the smaller, independent used bookstores that are near campus. There is almost always a plethora of them to choose from. Keep in mind that the majority of what they carry will be from the colleges nearby and more recent editions that students have sold back to them. Therefore, they won't have a more diverse selection than you will find online. But, if you are taking classes at a school nearby, it's worth a quick pop in to see if they have what you need before searching online.
You might also want to try buying used textbooks from Barnes and Noble. Sometimes they will have textbooks in their physical locations. More often than not, though, you can order them online, or in the store, and have them sent to the store for free.
If you are a Barnes and Noble member, then you get free shipping no matter what. They usually offer deals on their used book selection, as well as extra incentives if you purchase over a certain amount.
Make Sure You Buy The Right Textbook
Making sure you purchase the correct textbooks is an extremely important part of this whole process. The first things to ensure you have correct are:
- ISBN (International Standard Book Number)
- Physical or Digital copy required
If you are able to get a hold of the ISBN, this should tell you all of that information right out of the gate. Plus, all of the textbook searches will be more accurate if you put in the ISBN. This is one surefire way to make sure you are comparing the correct books in multiple locations. The last thing you want is to go through all of this searching, get the book in and realize that it is the wrong book!
If you are having trouble finding the ISBN, go to your campus bookstore and find the recommended book and take a picture of the ISBN from there. That way, you'll know you have the right copy.
Once you have all of this information hitting the textbook comparison sites is the next thing you should do.
Textbook Comparison Sites
One of the best ways to find the most competitive pricing is to use a comparison site. Or sometimes, more than one. Once you find a textbook comparison site that you like and continually give you accurate information, then stick with them to reduce the amount of time you spend looking for the best deals. Some of our favorite textbook comparison sites are:
- AllBookstores.com: This site is a very simple, easy to use, platform. The search function can either be simplistic or more advanced, depending upon the information you have. Ultimately, this site is a good place to start when you first begin your search because it compares all of the bigger name sites for pricing.
- BIGWORDS: They not only tout being able to save you up to 90% off the retail price but you can now also search the internet for coupon codes and deals on top of the savings.
- BookFinder.com: This site can save you up to 90% off the retail price by comparing prices from thousands of different sellers.
- DealOZ: This site claims that it can save you up to 97% off the retail price, which is the highest savings on the market right now. They also have a DealOZ app for Apple and a price comparison app on Android that you can load on your phone to make things much easier when you are on the go.
While textbooks can get pretty pricey there are many different ways to help cut their costs. The first thing to remember when beginning your search for the best prices on textbooks is to have all of the important, and correct, information for each book. If you don't confirm what you are searching for is the correct title, edition, author, and ISBN, you could be wasting a lot of time and money.
The next thing on the to-do list is to check out the textbook comparison websites. Put in each title and see which sites are showing the best prices on used and rental options. If your class gives you the option for digital books instead, then that may be a better route to go, because they are almost always going to be the cheaper option.
Once you have narrowed down your search with the best prices, then see if any of the sites are offering additional deals or coupons. Sometimes it may be only if you buy over a certain amount, or it could just be free shipping. But every little bit counts!
One other place to check is your local, smaller, independently owned bookstores near college campuses. They almost always have great deals on used books, but their supply won't be as vast.
Overall, there are a lot of places besides your college campus bookstore to look for textbooks that can help you save a lot of money. So which avenue will you choose to take to save you the most?
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