Shopping for Textbooks Online

All types of textbooks are available online (Photo by LifeSupercharger)

Just because you’ve enrolled in classes at a particular university does not mean that you must purchase your textbooks in their bookstore. There are many websites that sell textbooks and eBooks, and offers college students the opportunity to comparison-shop for the ones they want. To begin shopping, you will need the list of textbooks provided by the professor. If that list doesn’t include the ISBN, publication date, and/or the edition, you should obtain those items at the university’s bookstore. With those in hand, you will be able to search the database at to find out where the textbooks are available. In addition to online sites, lists brick and mortar stores near universities, for those students who do live locally.

With the high price of new textbooks, retailers and etailers alike also give students two other options to reduce the cost of higher education: buybacks of used textbooks, and textbook rentals. Buying back textbooks is not a new concept, but it has expanded to the web.’s buyback page  allows students to insert the textbook title, author, and ISBN, to find out which stores will purchase that particular used textbook. A benefit of online technology is that students are now also able to rent eBooks. and, among others, allow students to download textbooks for limited rental times. Students may rent for an entire semester or quarter, or for shorter times if they are enrolled in accelerated learning classes. Savings can range up to 80 – 90 percent over the cost of purchasing new textbooks, even when shipping costs are included in the price.

Be warned, though, if you are student who learns best by highlighting passages and making notes in the margin, or if you tend to spill coffee on the pages of your textbook, rental and buyback programs may not be for you. Stores generally require that the textbooks they rent out be returned in good condition, and only pay for used textbooks that are in decent shape. A few highlights here or there will probably be acceptable, but many more marks than that may greatly decrease the value of a book, or subject the renter to fines or other fees. And be sure to return rentals to the store within the rental period, to avoid fines for overdue books. Most stores include return labels with the original issue of the textbook, to make the return process easier.

With comparison shopping for textbooks, rental of textbooks and eBooks, and buyback of used textbooks available, paying for college is more affordable than ever.

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