Saturday, March 20, 2010

T for Textbooks

I’m going to warn you in advance that this post will probably be pretty boring for most of you.

I found out pretty quickly that college credits, even at Community College, are expensive; I expected that. What I didn’t expect was how expensive textbooks are. I cannot believe the prices on some of the textbooks I’ve needed so far!

I knew that the college bookstore was probably not the cheapest in terms of price, so I set out to find the best deals on textbooks. I found many places all over the internet to buy cheap college textbooks. Some provide better deals than others, depending on the book, so it is important to cross reference a few resources; which is quick and easy when one utilizes the internet.

A couple weeks before new classes start, I go out to Community College’s bookstore website to look up the books I need and to get the bookstore prices. I keep the list with title, ISBN, and prices open on my computer desktop as I search online for the best prices. Of the over half a dozen textbooks I’ve purchased so far, I’ve found every single one online for cheaper than the used price offered by the bookstore, and that includes paying shipping!

My favorite sites to search for textbook deals are: DirectTextbook, Cheapest Textbooks, and Cheap-Textbooks. These sites search among many textbooks sites, including, and provide a list of online sites that have the book for sale along with prices for the book. By utilizing these sites, I’ve saved myself anywhere from 10-50% on textbooks!! Granted buying books online isn’t as quick and easy as the bookstore, and usually there are shipping charges, but the savings I’ve found have included paying for shipping (and I’ve never paid more than $3.50 for shipping).

An example: The college bookstore listed my English textbook as $46.65 used. I was able to get it for $23.49 (including shipping), which is a savings of $23.16 or almost 50%!

Now, if you’re like me and hate the idea of buying a book that someone else has used, which means it could have germs, and food particles, and god knows what else on/in it, you might prefer to stick to purchasing new books. The savings won’t be as large, but I have still found new textbooks online for cheaper than college bookstore prices. When I realized the cost benefit, I quickly got past my fears over buying used textbooks. I stick to purchasing those listed as “like new” or “very good” condition, and I haven’t had a problem yet. No gross findings in my books, and really, germs can only live for so long.

I also found out that it’s possible to rent textbooks. The cheapest rental site I’ve found is Chegg. Chegg’s rental options include a 60-day, a quarter, and a semester rental; they also provide the option to extend rentals by anywhere from 15 days up to a whole semester. One must pay shipping to receive the books—I paid $3.99—but return shipping is free. I’m renting books for the first time this semester, and I’m pretty excited about the savings.

An example: My Geology textbook was listed at the bookstore for $100.05 used. (I know; it’s crazy, isn’t it?!?) Since I only need it for 8 weeks, I rented it for a quarter; which is a few weeks over what I needed but was the best option price wise. The rental price was $45.53 and shipping was $3.99 for a total of $49.52. That’s a savings of 51%!!

I think renting is the way to go for books that I don’t see myself hanging on to, because I won’t need to refer to them in the future. Not only is there quite a bit of savings, but I won’t have piles of unneeded/unwanted books sitting around my house waiting for me to get off my butt and try to resell them. Another thing that is appealing to me about renting books, especially from Chegg, is that Chegg plants a tree for every book that’s rented. Two trees were planted as a result of my renting the Geology textbook and workbook, and I got to pick where they should be planted. (I was given three locations as options.) I think that’s pretty cool!

I do have one caveat to the rental route. I found out that the Geology lab manual I rented was missing quite a few pages. Unfortunately, I was in the middle of class, and the missing pages included a lab we were supposed to do. I was not pleased, to say the least. Thankfully, the professor had made a few photocopies of the needed pages because so many students hadn’t shown up with materials, so I was covered.

I will be exercising Chegg’s 30-Day “Any Reason” guarantee. According to this policy, I have 30 days from the date my order was placed to return the book and get my money back. Good thing I realized the problem with this book early enough to exercise this option. I went to (my go-to site, because they have cheaper prices and fast shipping) and order a new lab manual for about the same price I paid for the rental.

I’m always, always searching for the cheapest option, so if any students out there have a resource that I haven’t mentioned here, I’d love to hear about it!

NOTE: None of the website I've listed in this post asked me to write this review, nor was I compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are mine, and mine only; your experience with these particular sites may vary.

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  1. I have a whole bookcase full of expensive textboous that I don't use any more. I really should sell them before they go too badly out of date.

  2. My hubs has all his textbooks from school. He is a semi-hoarder. It's such a waste, really, because he could've resold them and recouped some of the costs...but whatever. Too late for him:)
    My son on the other hand, goes to the campus bookstore for his and I'm going to strongly suggest he scope out the internet for some deals. It's definitely not too late for him:)
    Yay on all of your steals!!

  3. B has the same issues -- it's the damned books that are killing us! But like yourself, sweet girl, he is also very savvy in finding them used on-line; Craigslist, Amazon, etc.

    I'm so glad you're doing something for yourself that in the end, will provide you with an even grander sense of who you are to become -- which is already pretty darned terrific!

    Peace and serenity,

  4. i was lucky enough to be an english major, so i never needed textbooks- just novels. i always managed to get 'em for about a penny off amazon marketplace!

  5. That is really good information. I am going to go back to school at some point and didn't know you could do that kind of stuff. I am going to use this information when I do go back to school.

  6. I have been dragging my textbooks all over the country, from house to house. I gave a couple away, ... the rest, well, they are resting in boxes.

    I agree, renting just makes so much sense.

    Love the post. Very informative.

  7. When I was in college the internet was just a baby and not quite as amazingly useful as it is now. I used to buy all my books at Barnes & Noble - they were far cheaper than the college bookstore, but they were still a fortune. Because I was an accounting major and the rules changed pretty much every year, I got stuck with most of the books, which were useless. I ended up donating them to the library. It was such a waste of money. I'm glad you were able to find some great alternatives to crazy college bookstore prices.

  8. Textbooks almost cost as much as tuition! I always bought used when I have to, and I was always surprised that most of the used books were like brand new! I think there are plenty of people who buy new and then never even open the books.

  9. Textbooks are way too expensive at the bookstores. They are a total ripoff. The best way to get your textbooks now is by renting them especially the ones you wont be needing after the class is done. Check out this site, it's they have some of the best rental plans available.

  10. I shop for my sons textbooks with For us being a hardworking family unit we try to help each other out when it comes to these types of things. We have found that is the perfect place to search for textbooks cause of the easiness of it all! The site searches the entire internet to find you the best prices, the best conditions and the best over all price with shipping! They even calculate and find discounts that can apply to your purchases or shipping! I know for my family this works the best!

  11. Great Article. Renting textbooks is defintaly the cheapest option to go. I used when renting textbooks because of the following reasons:
    1) They show the rental price vs the used price. Ensuring you get the best deal
    2) They offer a local drop stop, which accepts all rental returns and buys back all new and old textbooks
    3) Easy to work with.

    Everyone should check it out.

  12. This wasn't as boring as you made it out to be. I found this to be quite enjoyable. But regardless, I noticed that was mentioned in one of the comments and from a personal stand point, i'd highly recommend this over any of the options you listed. I've had such great success with this site that everyone needs to jump on the band wagon. lol. When it searches for all the online textbook retailers and rental sites, then compares the lowest prices to find you the best deal, you realize how easy and effortless it really is. Amazing, no doubt. Look into it!


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