If you have been searching for a way to save more money on buying textbooks, the best choice to make is to buy college textbooks online. Buying textbooks from the school bookstore will only cost you more money versus enjoying the drastically reduced prices available on the internet. While the publisher sets a minimum price, often, school book stores charge more than this in order to turn a greater profit. If you want to get the books that your professors require at a price that you can actually afford, shop for college textbooks online, allowing you to save more money for other necessities.
BrokeScholar decided to help high school students heading to college for the first time as well as returning college students by identifyiing 18 of the best websites to buy textbooks on the cheap. Read on to find out the best places to buy textbooks online for college.
Starting Early Pays Off
Before delving into the best textbook selling websites, let’s begin with steps you can take before you even get to the checkout counter, whether online or at a brick-and-mortar store. When you want to save the most amount of money on your textbooks, you can find discounted retailers that will be able to offer you a selection of both new and used titles.
The key is to do thorough research several weeks before classes actually start and prior to your purchase. This will give the best chance of being able to get the best deal on cheap textbooks for college. When you start your search for textbooks as soon as you find out what you will need, you will be able to beat other students who may wait until the last moment, giving you the best chance of securing a copy at the lowest price possible.
The Best Places for Cheap Textbooks Online
Now, it’s time to get into where to buy textbooks online and the best places to do it. Years ago, buying textbooks online was much more limited. Nowadays, this has exploded into a full-fledged industry, complete with dozens upon dozens of cheap textbook websites. Some websites where you can buy textbooks are the direct suppliers of the textbooks; other websites are actually aggregators of other textbook buying websites, and these aggregators can be quite useful in your search to buy textbooks online at affordable prices. Let’s take a look at some of the best places to buy cheap textbooks online.
If you’re trying to find out where to buy college textbooks cheaply, AbeBooks is a great website to buy used textbooks and new ones. AbeBooks is also one of the top websites to sell textbooks online once you’re done with them. AbeBooks allows you to search by author, title, and ISBN (International Standard Book Number), which is a 10 to 13-digit number that uniquely identifies every book published since 1970. AbeBooks typically offers very competitive prices, but like some other cheap textbook websites, it isn’t always the direct supplier of the book. It will act as an intermediary, for example providing you the pricing and shipping of a college textbook from the direct seller, such as a BooksRun. Still, this doesn’t make AbeBooks any less useful as a place to purchase cheap college textbooks.
Depending on the bookseller AbeBooks sources from, you may get free shipping by using standard shipping. Selecting priority shipping usually incurs a higher cost. AbeBooks also allows for users to enter coupon codes in order to get a discount on what’s usually already cheap college textbooks.
Alibris is another old soul in the world of cheap textbook websites, having been founded in 1998, two years after AbeBooks. To buy textbooks on Alibris, you can create an account or continue as a guest, which is convenient because many other sellers of college textbooks online require you to make an account to even go through with the purchase. Alibris also isn’t limited to just cheap textbooks online: You can buy fiction books, romance, eBooks, cookbooks, kid’s books, crafts and hobbies books, and mystery books.
When you buy textbooks online at Alibris, you can get free shipping if you order #39 worth of books. Alibris provides a selection of textbook conditions to choose from when buying textbooks through them: “New Books”, “Used Books”, and “Rare Books” (the latter typically being textbooks that are international additions or in a non-English language). When you search a textbook, you’ll get a massive page of results, complete with various individual sellers of the textbook and their quoted price, as well as whether the textbook is in hardcover or paperback. Plus, Alibris has result filters, including searching for textbooks that are eligible for free shipping, eligible for expedited shipping; item condition, such as fine/like new or better, very good or better, good or better, fair or better; seller rating, such as the highest rated sellers only (5 stars only) or high rated sellers only (4 stars and above); and other filter options, such as rare books only, signed copies, first editions, and alternate editions. With so many features and online textbook sellers to choose from, Alibris definitely ranks among the best places to buy college textbooks cheap.
Considering Amazon began originally as an online bookstore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it is a great place to buy cheap textbooks online. Thanks to Amazon’s huge economy of scale, when you search for a college textbook, you’ll typically get a ton of results to choose from. Amazon is a particularly good place to buy used textbooks because, when it comes to college textbooks, the majority of their library are used textbooks with correspondingly affordable prices. In addition to low prices, Prime Student members receive free shipping, and you can use promo codes to get more discounts. You can even get cash back at Amazon with apps like Drop, according to CreditDonkey.
If you’re trying to find where to buy college textbooks and give a little back to the community, BetterWorldBooks claims that when you buy college books online through them, they donate a book to someone in need. As with all cheap textbook websites, you search for your textbook by ISBN code, author, or book title. When you get to the results page, you have the option to buy used textbooks, buy new textbooks, or buy eTextbook copies. Also, when you buy used textbooks, the results page shows the initial list price of the book and the amount you’ll save buying it used. You can also see all available copies of the textbook and their respective price and condition. BetterWorldBooks offers standard shipping for free, with no minimum order amount to meet, unlike other online textbook websites. Interestingly, international shipping is also offered free, though other forms of shipping, like expedited or next-day, do cost money.
When you’re looking for where to buy cheap textbooks online, Biblio is routinely one of the best options for discounted textbooks. You search for textbooks on their site by ISBN code, keyword, author, or book title, or you can open up their Advanced Book Search and search by factors such as publisher, illustrator or publish date. When you search for your textbooks, you’ll get a large results page arranged, by default, in terms of relevance to your search, but you can change this to listing them by price, author, or title, among other options. Biblio also provides a variety of filter options when search a textbook, including filtering by the book’s condition; filtering by hardcover, paperback, first edition, signed, dust jacket, or with bookseller-supplied photos; filtering by country; and filtering by sellers with multiple copies. Biblio offers a 30-day return guarantee, in which customers may return a book for a refund and/or exchange (if a copy is available from the bookseller) when they meet certain terms and conditions.
BiggerBooks is a superb website to buy cheap textbooks, as well as rent or sell textbooks. BiggerBooks offers you the ability to buy used textbooks, new textbooks, and eTextbooks. BiggerBooks offers textbook rentals in physical copy format or as eTextbooks. According to their site, BiggerBooks offers savings of up to 91% of typical list prices for books, a common claim by many cheap textbook websites that make up our list.
Like with all other places to buy college textbooks online, you search for your textbooks by either title, author, or ISBN code. When you choose to buy used textbooks on BiggerBooks, the site will show you the book’s list price and your total savings by buying a used version. To proceed to checkout on BiggerBooks, you’ll have to create or have an existing account with the website. BiggerBooks also offers daily deals where you can get a few dollars off purchases that meet a certain threshold. As with other cheap textbook websites, you can get free shipping through BiggerBooks when your order exceeds $59, which, if you’re buying multiple textbooks, is pretty easy to hit. They also offer a 25-day return policy, no questions asked.
BlueRocketBooks is a great resource for locating where to buy college textbooks because it is a textbook aggregator site. You search by ISBN code, author, or title, and get a quote for your textbook, then proceed to checkout. The textbook search results page is organized in a convenient fashion, with the top section — Summary of Lowest Prices — displaying the sellers where you can buy textbooks online for the cheapest price. The next section displays textbook rentals, followed by a section consisting solely of new textbooks, and then finally, a section to buy used textbooks.
Because BlueRocketBooks is an aggregator site, its search results show you the varying shipping prices since each seller has their own shipping policies; the results page also displays the availability of the textbook. BlueRocketBooks does not offer free shipping, and charges $3.99 for standard shipping of one textbook and $0.99 for additional books; expedited shipping costs $7.99 for one textbook and $1.99 for any additional textbooks in your order. While they have a return policy, books must be returned within 30 days of purchase date, but you’ll get the cost of the book back minus a 15% restocking fee. They also are not able to refund shipping charges.
BooksRun has become a well-known website to buy textbooks online. It is also one of the best websites for textbook rentals. Like many other cheap textbook websites, you’ll need to have or create an account on BooksRun to follow through with your order. Besides that, it works essentially ike all other places where you buy college books online. where you sell textbooks online: You enter the ISBN (International Standard Book Number), or book title or author for the textbooks you want to buy, get a quote, and then move on to checkout.
What is relatively unique about BooksRun is that you can select different levels of book condition when buying textbooks. One the shopping cart screen, there is a dropdown selection button where you can choose “Used - Acceptable”, “Used – Very Good”, or “New”. Once you choose your level of textbook condition, the quote then updates appropriately. For example, the college textbook “The Origins of the First World War” by James Joll and Gordon Martel, is quoted at $11.72 when you select “Used – Acceptable”; however, the quote jumps to $71.76 if you choose “New” (prices reflect the time of writing this article).
Other features of BooksRun include its loyalty program, in which you can earn points for every $1 you spend on the site. BooksRun provides free shipping on all orders, and they allow you to pay with debit or with credit card, or by PayPal. All these features make BooksRun an excellent place to buy college textbooks cheap.
BookScouter is similar to BlueRocketBooks in that it aggregates and offers comparisons of cheap textbook websites where you can buy textbooks online. BookScouter also offers users the ability to rent and sell college textbooks. What makes BookScouter one of the best places to buy cheap textbooks online is that it has 25-plus booksellers, so when you search your textbook, you frequently get an entire page’s worth of prices and places to buy college books online. BookScouter allows users to buy used textbooks, new textbooks, and digital versions.
When you search for a textbook, on the results page, BookScouter will single out the bookseller with the best price in the top-right corner of the page. According to the site, you can save up to 70% when you buy textbooks online through their service. Of course, as an aggregator site, when you select the textbook you want to buy, you’ll be taken to another website where you’ll actually complete the purchase. But like other aggregators of college textbooks online, the fact that BookScouter isn’t the direct seller or supplier of textbooks does not detract from the fact that it remains one of the best places to buy college textbooks cheap.
CampusBooks is one of those cheap textbook websites that is actually a comparison site, which aggregates the prices of college textbook websites. CampusBooks’ comparison feature, in particular its ability to tell you if it’s cheaper to rent or buy textbooks online, makes CampusBooks a vital website for buying cheap textbooks online. CampusBooks works like almost all other websites for buying textbooks online, in which you search for your book by title, author, or ISBN (International Standard Book Number). Once you’ve searched for your textbook, you’ll get a results page full of online textbook sellers, broken up into a section consisting of the cheap textbook websites with the “Best Prices” and a section below consisting of “All Bookstores”.
When you buy textbooks online at CampusBooks because the site is an aggregator, the shipping prices along with the purchase prices vary depending on the different textbook suppliers. So, while CampusBooks isn’t a direct supplier of college textbooks, its convenient comparison feature makes this website an excellent place to buy textbooks for cheap.
Chegg has become one of the most well-known places to buy cheap textbooks online. According to their site, you can save up to 90% when you buy college books online using Chegg, which is calculated based on the savings compared to the textbook’s typical list price. With Chegg, you can buy college books online as well as rent textbooks. They also offer textbooks in bound, physical form and as eTextbooks, the latter enables instant access since there’s no shipping time. You can buy used textbooks or new textbooks on Chegg, get a 21-day refund guarantee, plus a special surprise (though the details are not explicitly stated).
When you buy college books online on Chegg, you can get a four-week free trial of Chegg Study, which is an app that allows you to add courses, provides study tools like finding and creating flash cards, post questions, and even take a picture of a problem you have, take practice tests, and scan barcodes for textbook solutions. Another bonus of using Chegg to buy college textbooks online is that you get free standard shipping on physical textbook purchase orders of $35 or more within the United States.
DiscoverBooks is another solid website to buy college books online, charging just $0.99 shipping per book on orders under $9. Payment options on DiscoverBooks includes all major credit cards, debit cards, and PayPal. Among all the cheap textbook websites in our list, DiscoverBooks tends to offer some of the best prices all around. DiscoverBooks is also not limited to selling cheap textbooks online, but also sells popular fiction books, non-fiction books, and crafts and hobbies books. DiscoverBooks also offers discounts when you buy textbooks online in bulk. What’s more, when you’re done with your textbooks, they offer a textbook buyback program, so you can get cash for your unneeded textbooks. Plus, they offer free shipping in the U.S. on orders over $9, which is a much lower figure than what many comparable cheap textbook websites tend to offer.
Another oldy when it comes to websites for buying college textbooks cheap, eBooks.com was founded in 2000. However, a major difference between eBooks.com and other cheap textbook websites is that eBooks.com is solely an eBook retailer website — not a seller of bound, physical copies. That said, eBooks.com is still an excellent spot when you’re searching for where to buy cheap textbooks online.
This online textbook site offers a variety of eBook formats in which to read its textbooks, including:
EPUB for Ebook Reader (preferred option for mobile devices)
PDF for Ebook Reader
PDF for Digital Editions
EPUB for Digital Editions
DRM-Free PDF (no restriction on reading device)
DRM-Free ePub (no restriction on reading device)
Online Reader format (read in your internet browser without any additional software)
These eBook formats are usually supported by all devices compatible with Adobe Digital Editions (Windows) or Ebook Reader (iOS, Android, Blackberry & Kindle Fire). Most books can also be read online using eBooks.com’s Online Reader and any major web browser. So, while the fact that the website only offers college textbooks in eBook format, eBooks.com's vast library of college textbooks online help it rank among the best places to buy textbooks online.
When you’re looking for where to buy college textbooks online, eCampus is a very solid option. One of the more popular cheap textbook websites, eCampus offers users the ability to buy textbooks online, as well as sell textbooks and rent textbooks. They offer free shipping on standard shipping; for other forms of shipping, such as expedited, you’ll have to pay shipping costs. And in order to proceed to the checkout screen, you will need to create an account with eCampus.
When you buy college textbooks online at eCampus, you’ll have payment options including all major credit card providers, debit card, PayPal, or PayPal Credit. According to their website, eCampus claims you can save up to 90% when you buy used textbooks on their site. What is nice is that if your order of college textbooks is worth more than $35, you’ll get free economy shipping no matter what. There’s also a 25-day hassle-free return policy in which you can return your textbooks for no reason.
TextbookRush is one of the older places to buy college books online, having been founded in 2002. As with other cheap textbook websites, you search for your textbooks via ISBN, author, title, or keyword. TextbookRush also offers users the ability to rent textbooks and sell their used textbooks. According to their site, you can save as much as 90% off the retail price when you buy textbooks online through TextbookRush. What’s more, you’ll get free shipping on all orders over $35, plus a 30-day money back guarantee, which is longer than the guarantee period for several cheap textbook websites previously mentioned.
TextbookRush shows you how much you can save when you buy used textbooks compared to the textbook’s list price. And the savings when you buy used textbooks through TextbookRush can be staggering. TextbookRush also offers a rewards program, Rush Rewards U, in which you can earn rewards points on anything you buy or sell on the website. All these features help make TextbookRush one of the best places to buy college textbooks cheap.
Its name is very straightforward in what kind of business it takes part in: Offering you the ability to buy textbooks online. Textbooks.com was founded in 2006 and is thus one of the earlier cheap textbook websites to be established. The site works pretty much like every other textbook website on our list: You can search by book title, author, or ISBN code, then get a quoted price. When you choose to buy used textbooks, the results page will show you how much you’re saving off the list price of the textbook. Textbooks.com provides free shipping on orders of $25 or more; plus, if you place your order by noon, your textbooks will ship the same day. They also offer a full refund within 30 days from the date of purchase but only if your book is in the same condition as when it was shipped to you. For new books, access codes and CDs/DVDs must be unused and unopened. And, if there are components like workbooks, study guides, CDs/DVDs, etc., they must be returned as well to get the full refund.
Owned by parent company Akademos, TextbookX is another great place to go when figuring out where to buy cheap textbooks. Per usual, you search for your college textbooks by ISBN, author, or book title, and then receive a quote. In order proceed to checkout on TextbookX, you can create a log-in or continue as a guest. An especially interesting feature of TextbookX is the fact that, depending on your school, you may get a tax exemption when you buy college books online on this site.
TextbookX sources their college textbooks from a vast library of booksellers. When you search for your college textbook, the results page will display the seller, the condition of the book, any comments about the textbook, and the quoted price. You can choose to buy used textbooks or new ones. TextbookX says they accept Visa, MasterCard, AmericanExpress, and Discover cards, yet on the checkout screen, it often only shows Visa or AmericanExpress. It also doesn’t seem to accept PayPal.
ValoreBooks is another exceptional place to buy college textbooks cheap. According to their website, you can save up to 90% off when you buy textbooks online through Valore. Their site also claims that their marketplace model saves the average college student $500 per year on college textbooks. Valore provides a money-back 30-day guarantee on the books you buy, but only if your order arrives in poor condition or you received a different item; you won’t get a refund if you simply want to return the book without something wrong with it. When you search textbooks, Valore’s results page will display the list prices of the textbooks and how much you save if you buy used textbooks, and indeed, the savings are often 90% off. Valore doesn’t offer free shipping; standard shipping costs $3.95 and expedited shipping costs $6.95. When it comes to payment options, Valore takes Visa, AmericanExpress, MasterCard, Discover cards and debit cards, but no payments by gift cards or PayPal.
The Bottom Line: Why Buying Textbooks Is Great for College Students
Being a college student can be very expensive, and a major factor in this is the cost of textbooks. Sadly, this is not typically covered by financial aid or loans. If you have a limited budget, you will want to avoid the college bookstore at all costs because their prices will be very high, even on used books. When you shop online, you can buy copies from other students or independent book vendors that collect the books to sell. In addition, by shopping online, you do not even need to leave your dorm room or apartment, as you can simply research online any time of day and order your books. Your books will be shipped to you in a matter of days, saving you the headache of having to physically go to the college bookstore and get the books that you need. You can even decide to overnight or expedite them if you do not have a lot of time to spend. In short, shopping online will save you money and time, and offer peace of mind.