After tuition and rent (if you are not living in your own home), textbooks get the biggest slice of the budget allotted for education. Each subject or course taken requires at least one or more of these. Aside from those that are required reading, teachers may also suggest other books and reading material. Where to purchase cheap textbooks is a challenge.
Today, the Internet has made this a lot easier. Instead of just asking around and walking around, you can also surf the web for great textbook deals. There are five websites that most people go to when they look for affordable textbooks. Another way to get the textbooks you need is to do a swap with someone who also needs a textbook you have. There are several sites on the Internet dedicated to this.
The Top Websites Selling Low-Priced Textbooks
When you search Google for cheap textbooks, you will be greeted with more than 20 million results. Most people stick to the first four search results and wade through them. This is rather time consuming. You can try going to the top cheap textbook sites first to see what you can find. Compare the prices at each of these sites (do not forget to make sure that shipping is included in the cost), then go for the most affordable one with acceptable quality.
According to a poll conducted by lifehacker.com, the top five are the following (from most votes to least votes):
Amazon.com – This is the web’s superstore. Of course, it has textbooks too. The company has improved its textbook offering greatly. In the past, such books were mixed in with other books. Today, “textbooks” is a section unto itself. You can find a wide variety of offerings. These are brand new, used, for rent and ebook format. The price varies accordingly. You even get free two-day shipping if you are a college student.
Discounts are offered every now and then, especially when you need it most such as when classes are about to start. If you have a valid student email, you can get an Amazon Prime Membership for free and enjoy the perks. Another thing that is great about Amazon is the buy-back feature. When you purchase a textbook, the amount you can get if you sell it back is also indicated. The longer you keep the book before you sell it back, the lower the price. You can think of it as additional funds towards that new set of textbooks once you are done with the set you have.
2) Half.com – eBay is also competing in the book / textbook market through this website. Because many people sell their used books on this site, the company has provided the site’s users with a Buying Wizard. This tool greatly decreases the time needed to search for the books that you need. The website has expanded to include book rentals. You can thus borrow a book if that is what you prefer.
After selecting the textbook you need, the various used books being sold are arranged according to their condition (Brand New, Like New, Very Good, Good, and Acceptable). There are also comments made by the seller regarding the book to provide you with more insight on its condition and other deals they may be offering. Furthermore, if you purchase two or more books from one seller, you get a discount on shipping from Half.com.
3) Chegg.com – This is a textbook rental site. You can borrow the books from 60 days to a quarter to as long as a semester. The rental cost is anywhere between 30% and 80% lower than the cost of purchasing a new textbook. Once you are done with the book, shipping it back is free. The company will provide you with a UPS label to do so. If you wish to return the book for any reason, you can do so within 30 days of your purchase free of charge with free shipping to boot.
4) Bigwords.com – This website provides its users with the means to search the various textbook retailers and resellers for the best deals on the textbooks they need. The textbook finds are some of the lowest-priced around. You can even search for a combination of several books. The system will provide you with the store that sells you the whole set at the lowest price. Shipping and store promotions are factored into this equation so you do not have to go to the headache of calculating this yourself. Each search can be narrowed down further by indicating the book condition you are after (new or used), whether you want to rent the book, the edition type (local or international), and more.
5) AbeBooks.com – This bargain textbook site is really massive, and even rare books are on sale. The average price is about half the price of a brand new book sold at a local bookstore. If you are worried about the quality of the book you get from them, a 30-day refund policy is included. Thus, if the book you get does not match the description of its condition on the website, if you do not actually receive the book, or some bookseller error was made (e.g. shipped the wrong book), you can get your money back. The site also offers a book rental option. It has a 21-day return policy so you can rest easy even when borrowing a textbook. Returning borrowed books is also free.
Other Ways to Get Bargain Textbooks
Surfing the web for a good buy is not the only way to get a good deal. You can also swap textbooks with other people who have finished a course you are about to take. The bigger your network of people, the more textbooks you have access to. It is from this that textbook swap websites were developed. Here are a number of websites that specialize in this:
Most of these sites ask you to pay for shipment. If you are to receive a book though, it is generally free shipping.
The Bottom Line
Buying a textbook at low price is so much easier with the advent of the Internet. There are websites, though, that are frequented by most because the books you get from them are consistently good, aside from the guarantees they offer. For an even lower cost, you can also opt to swap your textbooks. This way you only have to pay shipping costs.