College can be an expensive time with a never-ending stream of expenses, including supplies, gadgets, housing and food. This list of costs doesn’t even account for the ever-rising price of college tuition, which climbs 8 percent every year.
While there will always be expenses related to starting college, the internet has made it easier than ever to save money. This is especially true for college materials, such as textbooks.
The campus bookstore used to be the chief place to buy textbooks. Now, there are many options for the best places to buy college textbooks online – and save a bundle.
Top Places to Buy College Textbooks
Now that you have the information for each textbook on your list, it’s time to do some research. Here is our list of the best places to buy college textbooks online.
AbeBooks is a marketplace of independent sellers from around the world. You will find millions of books, including textbooks, even international editions. The online retailer has been around since 1996, way before it was common to buy books online.
Sellers ship books straight to the buyers, eliminating the need for a middle man. You can find used copies and older editions of textbooks often for less than brick-and-mortar locations.
AbeBooks’ best deals are often on international editions of textbooks. You can typically find a great bargain on these editions, even if the information is identical to the U.S. version.
If you are not satisfied with the book you receive, AbeBooks gives you a 30-day return window. You can get a refund in that time frame if the return is because of an error on the bookseller’s part, such as the wrong book or inaccurate online description.
Even if the error was on your end, it’s worth contacting the seller to see if they would accept a return. If that doesn’t work, you may sell the book back to AbeBooks through their buyback program.
Find your favorite books online.
If you want a good place to start your research for textbooks, check out AllBookstores.com. The website search engine scours the inventory of over three dozen online bookstores to find the best-discounted prices on used textbooks.
You can find the books for your upcoming classes at up to 90 percent off retail prices. AllBookstores.com can help you compare prices for both new and used textbooks. It will also show the cost of renting the textbook so you can decide which is a better deal.
Prices include shipping, so the price you see is the price you will pay when you check out. When you click the “Buy” button, they will direct you to the website for the retailer selling the book.
Bookscouter is a new way to ‘scout’ out the best price by comparing book prices across sellers. This smart app allows you to simply scan the ISBN, and then the app tells you who will buy your book for the best price. It also allows you to scan and find your textbooks for the best price.
This site is popular among college students for many reasons. First, they can find their books by the seller for the best price. And then once done with their books, they can resell. This is one of my favorite ways to buy textbooks online.
You can read more in our full review about BookScouter.
Did you know that Amazon sells textbooks? Few people think of the retailer as a good place to find deals on college textbooks. Not only can you buy new and used textbooks via Amazon, but you can also sell them back or rent them when you’re done.
You don’t need Amazon membership to order from the retailer. However, if you are a Prime member, you will get your books shipped fast as long as they come directly from the retailer.
As a student, you can take advantage of a discounted version of Amazon Prime for students. Start with a six-month free trial to Amazon Student to see if you like the perks. If you’re ready to sign up, you will pay half the price of full membership but still get access to all Prime benefits.
5. Valore Books
ValoreBooks gives you the option to buy or rent cheap textbooks from more than 18,000 verified sellers and rental providers. It’s a marketplace where sellers compete to provide the lowest price on the books you need for college.
According to ValoreBooks, the average student saves about $500 per year when buying or renting all required books from their marketplace. You can also sell your textbooks to them for a competitive price.
Search for textbooks using the title, author or ISBN. ValoreBooks also offers a price-match guarantee so you can rest easy knowing you can get the best price. All textbook rentals come with free shipping. You will also get a 30-day money-back guarantee with no questions asked.
Check out our full ValoreBooks review for more details.
6. Better World Books
Better World Books was started by two students looking to sell old textbooks on the internet. While you can find more than just used textbooks through the website, it’s still a good place to start.
You can search by the title, author or ISBN. Shipping is free, even for international orders, which is not common with online booksellers.
As a bonus, you can feel good about your purchase. Better World Books saves used books from landfills and helps fund literacy projects around the world. For every book you buy, they donate a book to someone in need.
If you’re looking for a deal, BigWords may be a good place to start. It’s an online search engine that helps you compare textbook prices from the best online stores. You can save up to 90 percent on the books for your next class.
BigWords boasts they can find textbooks for 35 – 45 percent less than other online stores, so it’s worth checking out. For those looking for a deal, BigWords also scours the internet for coupons and discounts at online book retailers.
BookFinder is another search engine that helps you compare prices for textbooks across the board. It searches the inventories for more than 100,000 booksellers worldwide, putting millions of books at your fingertips.
Once you finish using your textbooks, BookFinder will compare textbook buyback prices to find the best offers. It also includes the shipping costs in your search.
The web interface is outdated and clunky, but it serves its purpose. The website can also help locate rare books or those that are out of print.
Did someone say free shipping on everything? That’s the promise behind BooksRun, an online book retailer that offers a variety of college textbooks at discounted prices. Free shipping applies for book buybacks, purchase and rental orders.
If you’d like to try your textbooks in an eBook format, BooksRun can help you save up to 60 percent. They have more than 430,000 titles available with more added all the time. If you go this route, you can get instant access to your textbook on your computer, tablet or smartphone.
You can search by ISBN, title or author. Besides standard editions, BooksRun also sells international editions, which are cheaper, and teacher editions with all homework explanations.
CampusBooks is another search engine that helps you compare textbooks prices and save up to 90 percent. You can search and compare prices for buying, renting or selling textbooks online sellers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble and dozens more.
Try searching by name, author or ISBN or check out the ISBN barcode scanner, which can save you the trouble of typing in all those numbers.
CampusBooks will also compare the price of renting vs. buying a book to help you decide if it makes more sense to rent or buy a textbook. It will also search local libraries and let you know if the textbook you want is available for free.
When comparing prices, CampusBooks will give you the total price comparison, including coupons, shipping costs and sales tax. This thoroughness means no surprises at checkout, and you get the full cost upfront.
CheapestTextbooks started in 2001 to help students save money on college textbooks. They search thousands of college textbook sellers to help you save up to 95 percent on buying or renting.
Besides, they help you find free shipping, coupons and discounts so you can save even more on your study materials. So you’ll save time while still finding rock-bottom prices on college textbooks.
CheapestTextbooks also compares the prices of owning vs. renting. Plus, it will help you decide if an eTextbook makes more sense than the print edition.
When you’re ready to part with your textbooks, CheapestTextbooks will search the Internet for the online retailers that will offer you the most money.
If you’re looking for an online textbook retailer who offers competitive pricing, check out Chegg. You can find discounts of up to 90 percent of textbooks’ physical retail price, saving you tens if not hundreds.
Search for study materials or textbooks using the title, author or ISBN. Chegg will also show you if there is an eTextbook version for the title you’re searching for and help you compare prices. Standard shipping is free on orders of $30 or more.
Wait until the last minute to order your textbooks? Chegg offers a bonus that allows you to view the digital version of any book you order for free while your physical copies are on their way. This feature enables you to get started on your college coursework while waiting for your textbooks.
Plus, if there is a good deal on textbooks in your area, Chegg will show it to you. This option can be a suitable choice if you prefer to buy your books in person rather than waiting for them to arrive in the (snail) mail.
CollegeBooksDirect helps you find used textbooks from their inventory of more than 30,000 copies. Unlike other websites, CollegeBooksDirect only sells books from their current inventory, which means they offer same-day shipping.
Keep in mind the website is outdated, but the layout is easy to navigate. You can search for a textbook by the ISBN, author, title or keyword.
Find annotated textbooks, instructor’s editions, text-only textbooks and new and used copies at affordable prices. CollegeBooksDirect ships 93 percent of orders by 2 p.m. CST the same day they are received and 100 percent of orders in two business days.
Once you are done with your textbooks, CollegeBooksDirect will buy them from you. You can compare their prices with those of other online buyback retailers to find the best option.
Another place to find cheap textbooks online is eCampus. This website can save you up to 90 percent on new and used textbooks, eTextbooks and textbook rentals. You can search by title, author or ISBN.
Shipping is free on orders of $35 or more. They also offer a textbook guarantee that allows you to return your purchase for any reason within 25 days. You can also extend or purchase your rental textbook at any time. If you buy an eTextbook, you can get instant access to it.
You can earn points and redeem them for rewards through eCampus’s eWards reward program. Enrollment is free, and you will have multiple ways to earn points. Redeem your points for discounts of up to $20 off textbooks.
SlugBooks takes buying textbooks online to the next level. The search engine allows you to compare prices at online retailers such as Amazon.com and AbeBooks.com with your university’s bookstore.
You can search by name, title or ISBN. If you want to compare prices with your school’s bookstore, you can search by the school name and the class. Search results will include new, used, rental and digital textbook sellers, giving you a variety of options.
An additional feature allows you to compare multiple books, saving you time and making the process easier. You can also use SlugBooks to find course material previews and study materials for your classes.
If you follow SlugBooks on social media, you can get exclusive discounts and coupons.
With an inventory of 10 million books in stock, chances are Textbooks.com will have the textbooks on your list. This is one of my favorite places to buy college textbooks online.
Shipping is free on orders of $25 or more, excluding Marketplace orders. If something is not correct with your order, you can take advantage of the hassle-free 30-day return window.
Search for textbooks by title, author or ISBN and get results for new, used and eBook versions so you can compare options. Certain books have a 50 percent cash back guarantee, which means you can get 50 percent back if you sell your books to Textbooks.com at the end of the semester.
Textbooks.com prides itself on having the best buyback program in the business, offering 30-day guaranteed quotes and free return shipping.
Bonus Features: 30-day guaranteed quotes & hassle-free return window, free shipping $25 or more, free return shipping, and savings up to 90% of the retail prices.
With over 25 years in the book business, TextbookRush bills itself as “Your Online Campus Bookstore.” Find new, used and international edition textbooks with free shipping on orders of $35 or more.
Like other websites, TextbookRush offers savings of up to 90 percent off retail, although most books will offer more modest discounts. They have a 30-day 100 percent satisfaction guarantee and a hassle-free return policy.
TextbookRush pays top dollar on more than 1 million titles to sell your textbooks to them once you’re done for extra cash. They also have an app available for Apple (iOS) devices to make it easier to sell your textbooks.
Before You Buy
One thing you will notice when you shop for textbooks is that there are many options with similar sounding names. Do you need “Organic Chemistry” or “A Textbook of Organic Chemistry”?
Each textbook also gets revised, so you will find multiple editions, each with different information. This variation is why you need to have all the necessary details before hopping online to search for the best price.
For each of your classes, find out the exact title for each textbook, the author, edition and ISBN (International Standard Book Number). You can find the information on your course syllabus, or by contacting your professor or teaching assistant.
Having the right information will ensure you buy the correct textbooks.
The Bottom Line
After you get your class list and the textbooks you need for your classes, head over to your campus bookstore to get a baseline idea of how much everything will cost. Write the title, author, edition and ISBN number for each book.
Once you have everything, you can use some of the online sites above to find the best deal on your books for the semester. Figure out what’s most important to you – price, shipping cost and speed, selection, book condition and so on. This list of priorities will help you narrow down your choices.
No matter which of the online retailers above you use, you can rest easy knowing you have options for finding the best deal on textbooks. It’s a great way to shave off some of the costs of higher education.
Have you bought college textbooks online? What was your experience? Share your thoughts in the comments.