It’s back to school time, and that means one thing: all the expenses of back to school supplies and textbooks, which are an unavoidable part of scholastic life.
But the Internet makes it cheaper than ever to buy textbooks. No longer do you have to rely only on the expensive new stock in your university’s bookstore. Web sites like eBay, AbeBooks, Alibris, and others offer competitive rates on new and used textbooks. And what’s more, once you’re done with the semester, many sites will buy your used textbooks for cash you can apply towards the next semester’s expenses – or just use to treat yourself to something in congratulations for schooling well done.
Here are 10 places you can turn to online for cheap textbooks.
Auctions are a fantastic way to both buy and sell textbooks online. And when it comes to online auctions, eBay is king. With the ability to sort your search results by price, you can easily see the lowest asking price for a textbook and compare it to traditional stores. Just be sure to pay attention to the shipping costs; sometimes auctions with a deliberately low asking price are set to disproportionately high shipping, so be careful when bidding. Site
Alibris has done a wonderful job laying out their textbook store, so it’s easy for you to search for college textbooks, high school textbooks, middle school textbooks, and even grade school textbooks. Often textbooks for grade school through high school are provided by the school, but if they’re not, the extra expenses on top of the demand for school supplies can really add up. Alibris has some solid deals and you can group your search by entering multiple ISBNs and get a bundle price. Site
With a textbook marketplace of over 10,000 sellers offering books, Textbooks.com boasts one of the largest collections available. They’ve also begun to rent books, and you can digitally download books when available, which is a serious plus for lightening your backpack. They have a total satisfaction guarantee and all orders over $25.00 – which is likely to be most orders where multiple books are concerned – ship for free. Site
AbeBooks is well recognized as one of the best places to turn to for old books, particularly collector’s edition and out-of-print books. But they also have a substantial library of textbooks for sale, both new and used. Textbooks via AbeBooks are sold by trusted individual booksellers. You can find deals of up to 90% off the list price of your books. And it’s easy to sell your textbooks back to them when you’re done. Site
6. Barnes & Noble
Famed booksellers Barnes & Noble are in the textbook business, too. In fact, B&N is a reliable place to find used textbooks and it’s very simple to sell your books to B&N any time. They’ve also jumped on the textbook rental bandwagon, and offer digital downloads of books via their Nook reader, with NOOKstudy eTextbooks. Site
Predictably, B&N rivals Amazon.com are in the textbook game, too. They offer free 2 day shipping to eligible students. You just sign up for their student program providing your school and major and receive a free year of their Prime service, which gives free 2 day shipping on many products sold through Amazon. It doesn’t apply, however, to all third party merchants, so be sure to look for the Prime logo when you want free shipping. They’re currently running a special where you get $5 worth of mp3 downloads when you spend $50 on textbooks, so there’s a little bonus incentive. Site
eBay’s more traditional shopping sibling has a very easy to navigate web site with books separated clearly by subject. This can make a world of difference in the jungle of textbooks with sometimes confusing titles and overlapping courses of study. They also have a list of 200 of their top selling textbooks with especially steep discounts. When selling your textbooks you have to wait for a buyer to snatch them up, but some books are eligible for a instant sale via their “sell it now” program, which means no waiting – and you pocket the cash faster. Site
Chegg is a textbook rental service with a unique twist. You can rent any of their millions of textbooks, receive them quickly, return them for free, and then Chegg plants a tree! Chegg plants trees for you every time you rent from them, so this is a tremendously environmentally friendly service. Not only are you saving trees by renting books already in existence, but you’re adding to the environment with new trees in the process. They too offer a 30 day guarantee for “any reason”. And they’ll buy the textbooks you own, too. Site
CampusBooks lets you compare prices to determine how to get the cheapest books. Like their competitors they offer eBooks and rentals, too. But they also have apps for iPhone and Droid so you can take your savings with you anywhere – which is very useful when you’re browsing your college’s bookstore and comparing vs. CampusBooks online. They also offer local library and bookstore pick up, which means when you’re searching for books they’ll show you local places that sell or stock it for borrowing, so you can get the book immediately. And, in the case of libraries, you can get it free. It’s a very generous feature. Site
eCampus functions like an online college bookstore, with the textbook purchasing, rental, and selling options you’ve come to expect from this list. But with their “entourage” feature you can earn money when your friends use eCampus – $5 every time a friend uses your unique referral code when purchasing, and 5% off all eCampus products. In addition to books, you’ll find the kinds of products you’d find in a traditional campus bookstore, such as college apparel. And when you need a break from studying, eCampus offers DVD and Blu-Ray, too. It’s this well-rounded selection that earns eCampus the #1 spot on this list. Site