Shopping for College Textbooks

There is no denying it. College textbooks are expensive.  You can buy a huge Stephen King hardcover book for less than $30 but a small textbook often costs more than $50. Also, your average campus bookstore has little competition unlike your standard bookstore, which gives them little incentive to discount books.  Bargains are hard to come by in the college textbook market, yet you can still shave a few percent off your total bill.  This may not sound like much but when the average bill for a full time student is $300-$500 per semester, a modest saving like 10% is worth $30-$50.  Not too bad.

Tips to reduce your textbook costs.

  • Buy from other students.  Bypass the bookstore entirely -- the cheapest way to get textbooks is still from your fellow students. The person who took the class the semester before is perfectly willing to sell his/her book to you for a 30-50% loss instead of to the campus bookstore (where he or she will have a 50%-75% loss).  Plus, you can bargain with other students. Try doing that at your campus bookstore! Just make sure the same book/edition is still used and hasn't been replaced by a new edition or book. Some colleges make it easier for students to sell books to each other by having a book sale or a special bulletin board where students can sell their books.
  • Buy used.  Used books at your campus bookstore generally sell for around 25% less than new.  Also, used books and new books have the SAME buyback value at the end of the semester. Additionally, if your college bookstore doesn't carry used books or if they are out of stock, many of the online bookstores listed below on this page also carry used books. You can save even more on online auction sites and marketplaces like eBay, and (with the downside of not being able to return books if you decide to drop a course).
  • "Guaranteed Buyback" books are not necessarily better than used.   Don't automatically assume that a book with a "Guaranteed Buyback" is cheaper than a used book. Only buy new books with a "Guaranteed Buyback" when the price of the book minus the buyback value is less than what a used book costs. "Guaranteed Buybacks" benefit you the most if the book is not used next semester or if the bookstore is overstocked (which happens frequently).
  • Look for other college bookstores in your area.  Pick up a phone book and look under "Bookstores, College."  You will be surprised at how many independent college bookstores there are.  Many are located a few blocks from your university and charge a lot less than the bookstore on campus. Also, some of these independent bookstores offer more money when buying back textbooks.
  • Check your local Barnes and Noble, Borders, Waldenbooks etc.  Normally, your average bookstore is not as good a deal as a college bookstore (primarily because of the limited textbook selection and lack of used books). However, you can find some deals on books for English and Computer Science courses.
  • Check the Internet.  Online college bookstores generally have a much larger selection of used books. Furthermore, you can find some real deals on auction sites and online marketplaces. There is one big problem with the Internet, shipping. You have to pay for it and wait for it. Also, be aware that some Internet college bookstores do not refund shipping if you have to return a book. Make sure you read return policies very closely to avoid surprises. Auction sites and online marketplaces do not generally accept returns at all unless you get the wrong item or it differs significantly from the description listed by the seller.

Internet Textbook Stores - Links will open up in a new window. You can rate stores by clicking on the rating.

Used Books?
Comments's University Store
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You can find cheap used books through their auction site in addition to the new books you usually find at Amazon.

  • Super Saver Shipping free on orders over $25
Barnes and Noble Textbooks
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5% off if you use your Student Advantage Card.
If you have a Discover® Card, visit the ShopCenter to save 7% on books.

  • Free Standard Shipping on orders over $25.
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  • FREE T-SHIRT - (Free on orders over $99)
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Read return policy closely, they will only refund 90%. Formerly

  • Free shipping on orders over $49
Varsity Books
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N/A'."\n"); } else { print(''.$myrow["ROUND(AVG(rating),1)"].'/5'."\n"); } ?> Good prices, plus you can return books to any Walmart store.

DISCLAIMER: I have not used all of these companies' services personally so I cannot vouch for their quality. In addition, I am an affiliate and/or I accept advertising from some of the companies listed (after all, I need help paying my textbooks bills as well). However, I listed these companies due to their market position or their good reputation and not for any other reason. If you have a bad experience with any of these companies, please e-mail me and I will remove the link of the company if I receive many complaints about it. Thanks.

I am an affiliate of:
In Association with   Logo 88x31   Click here for your favorite eBay items   Barnes &
  88 x 31 & sell books music movies games   Easy. Fast. Cheap.  

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