Textbook Wars: Where to Find the Cheapest Books on the Web
It’s hard to believe, but summertime means that many of us will register for the fall semester. We’ll be sending in deposits for housing, creating our packing lists and registering for classes. Seems like a lot of work, right? I really don’t mind shopping for new bedding or stalking the school website to ensure I get the courses I want this fall, but I do dread what comes next – textbook shopping.
Just a few years ago, most of us printed our lists of materials, headed to the campus bookstore and forked over several hundreds of dollars for our required texts. Thankfully, things have changed quite a bit. Students no longer have to purchase new or used books from the campus bookstore; they can rent, sell and even trade for books on the web. There are dozens of online services vying for our money, but how do you know if you’re getting a good deal?
First, I always suggest checking out what the price would be on campus. You can usually find this information online or in person by making a quick trip to the bookstore. Once you have this list in hand, you can begin price comparison and shopping online.
You could go to some of the popular sites, such as ECampus.com and Chegg.com, but to save time, I suggest the following three comparison sites to help you locate the best deals on the Internet.
Founded in 2012, this social platform allows users to buy, trade and sell books online. Members create an account (you can register with Google+, Facebook and Twitter), list the books they currently have available and also create a ‘wish list' for next semester. Members then trade with each other and earn credits that can be used to acquire other books. If you don’t want to trade books, you can sell directly to the BookGator Marketplace instead. The service is free and could save you a bundle!
This free service has been helping students since 1999 (insert Prince song here) and allows users to buy or sell books online. Some of my favorite features are the Buy Back Price Search Tool and the opportunity for users to win $100 in free books simply by telling your friends about the website. The search results include information on the seller, cost of the text, shipping, and whether you can buy or rent the item. The website is easy to use and free of annoying advertising banners.
Of all the price comparison websites, this is by far my favorite. Users can search for books by title, author, ISBN or keyword (the other sites provide this option as well). Once the book has been located, the user receives a snapshot with the lowest purchase price (new & used), rental price (55, 85 and 125 day values), eBook price and Sell Back value. Scroll down and you’ll get the full picture on every seller listed, including the condition of the book, any coupons or deals being offered, shipping, and the total percent off the retail price of the book. It truly is your one-stop shopping destination for college textbooks, and best of all, it’s free!
As with any comparison site (travel, hotels, etc.), always check the website of the seller you decide upon and verify the information provided is still accurate. You may be surprised to find there is a better deal or new offer available, or find that the price has actually gone up. In any case, these comparison tools will save you the time and hassle of searching the Internet for the best deals. They also give you a great place to start your textbook shopping for the next semester. Happy hunting!