When you’re in college, money can be a problem. Rising textbook prices make study materials one of the main expenses you have to worry about. Sometimes, books can even cost more than some of your classes, which is why alternative ways to buy textbooks make a lot of sense.
Rather than buying new textbooks in brick-and-mortar bookstores, you can purchase them in other ways as shown below (the cheapest way is the last one in the list):
- Buying textbooks online
- buying etextbooks
- buying alternative international editions
- buying used textbooks
- renting textbooks
These options have advantages and disadvantages; for example, buying etextbooks is absolutely safe and depends only on your personal preferences. If you are a visual learner who feels comfortable reading from the screen, just go for it. As for used textbooks, some are in good condition, and a few highlighted sentences can even help you better navigate the text.
The situation, however, is a bit different regarding alternative international editions, which can be slightly different from U.S. editions. This option is risky despite its attractive price. In some cases, you may need materials your textbook lacks. Renting textbooks is a great choice that has few to no disadvantages unless you want to keep them forever.
Some online bookstores combine all these options. Based on our experiences, we have nominated the top 10 best sites to buy cheap textbooks online.
To make our review unbiased, we searched for the following two popular textbooks in the top online textbook stores:
- Robbins, S. P., & Judge, T. (2015). Organizational behavior (16th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson Education. ISBN: 0133507645 ($276.6 at My Pearson Store, the store of the textbook’s publishing company)
- Kenrick, D. T., Neuberg, S. L., & Cialdini, R. B. (2015). Social psychology: Goals in interaction. New York, NY: Pearson Education. ISBN: 9780133810189 ($245 at My Pearson Store)
Every bookstore was evaluated as to its pricing policy, navigation, and available options.
*Note that all prices are given for new printed books and used only as an example; prices can change due to the store’s sale campaigns.
10. Books-A-Million Online Bookstore
Books-A-Million takes a well-deserved 10th place among the best sites to buy cheap textbooks online.
Price:$276 & $245 respectively are the prices for new printed books.
Navigation:The site has an easy-to-use search tool and intuitive design. You can easily find the textbook you need by ISBN, title, or author.
Options:New and cheaper used copies of textbooks are available.
9. Valore Books, the Students’ Marketplace
With ValoreBooks, you can buy, rent, or sell your used books or even some gadgets.
Price: $173.95 & $151.74.
Navigation: a convenient search tool by title, author, ISBN.
Options: new, used books, renting options, and alternative editions.
Are you wondering what an alternative edition means? It’s an international edition of a textbook. It can be much cheaper than the U.S. edition, but it may lack supplementary materials (such as CD and workbooks), and there might be differences in the end of chapter questions and tasks. Buying an alternative edition saves money, but certain risks are implied.
Price: $149.22 & n/a.
Navigation: search by title, author, ISBN, keywords.
Options: new and used books.
The name of this ebay company is self-explanatory; the site promises to find you deals at half the price. The pricing policy is attractive indeed. The textbooks we’ve used for this experiment are twice as cheap as those of some retailers.
Price: $120 & $169.
Navigation: search in categories; search by title, author, ISBN.
Options: new and used textbooks; used textbooks are divided into groups according to condition.
This store’s main focus is rare books, and they successfully hit this goal. This site can be your last resort if you can’t find your book anywhere else online.
Price: n/a ($40 for an international edition) & $117.99
Navigation: search by keyword, author, title, ISBN
Options: new U.S. and alternative editions.
Price: $83.13 & $ 128.93
Navigation: search by title, author, ISBN
Options: new U.S. and alternative editions, sale prices.
AbeBooks offers a wide range of textbooks matching various interests and financial situation.
Price: $28.58 & $131.35
Navigation: advanced search options, including search by date of publication, publishing company, edition, price, etc.
Options: new and used books
3. Books at Amazon
As one of the top online retailers, Amazon offers plenty of options and textbook items. The prices for brand-new standard editions are not as low as you’d prefer them to be, but with a wide range of available items and options, Amazon deserves third place.
Price: $216.07 & $227.21
Navigation: search by title and ISBN
Options: new, used books, alternative editions, renting plans
ECampus with its variety of available options and items, convenient search, and moderate pricing wins silver in this rating.
Price: $126.30 & $ $214.23
Navigation: search by title, author, ISBN
Options: new, used books, different renting plans, etextbooks
Price: $238.49 & $149.49
Navigation: search by title, author, ISBN, keywords
Options: new, used books, renting plans, etextbooks
Bonus: Consider this free service - DirectTextbook.com
One of its unique features is multi-price search. It helps students find the lowest prices for all the books they need with a single search! You just need to enter multiple ISBNs, and the website will show you how to get these books for the lowest total price from all stores (or a single store, if you prefer).
Here's an example of a search result that demonstrates the value of this awesome feature:
Finding cheap textbooks online is possible and highly recommended. Hopefully, this post will make it easier for you to find them. Online bookstores offer interesting deals and great opportunities to reduce the cost of buying textbooks. You can find many other online textbook stores on the web these days, but the top 10 tried-and-tested textbook stores nominated in this post deserve your attention.
Make wise purchasing decisions and study smarter!