Lists & Tips

Best Sites to Buy College Textbooks

It's no secret that textbooks are expensive, but these websites make it easy to find deals on new and used textbooks.
Allan T
Jan 18, 2024

Best place to buy college text books

For college textbooks, explore options like Amazon for new and used books, Chegg for rentals, eBay for deals, and your campus bookstore for accuracy. BookFinder helps compare prices across sellers. Consider digital editions or international versions for savings, and check campus groups for student exchanges.

Tuition, accommodation, and food are the biggest expenses in University but textbooks can cost a student as much as $1,200 a year as well. Textbooks have been getting more and more expensive every year and brand new ones can cost over $200.

If you're a science major, then some textbooks can cost as much as $500! If you buy books from a bookstore, the prices can be incredibly high, but there are a lot of websites that offer books for much cheaper. Having a little extra money is always a good thing right? 

In this article, you will learn about the pros and cons of buying new versus used textbooks, as well as get a list of some of the best sites to buy college textbooks. 

The Best Places to Buy College Textbooks

These are the best websites that answer where to buy cheap college textbooks? 

Amazon: The Behemoth of Book Sales

Amazon stands out as a one-stop-shop for college textbooks, offering an expansive collection that spans new, used, rental, and digital formats. The site’s massive inventory means you’re likely to find almost any textbook you’re searching for. For students looking to save, Amazon’s used and rental options present a cost-effective solution, with the added benefit of Amazon Prime Student membership providing free shipping and additional discounts. The convenience of having all your textbook needs met in one place, coupled with competitive pricing, makes Amazon a top choice for many students.

Chegg: More Than Just Textbooks

Chegg has carved out a niche in the textbook market by focusing on rentals, though it also offers new and used books for purchase. What sets Chegg apart is its suite of student services, including study aids, tutoring, and homework help, making it a valuable resource beyond just textbook transactions. Chegg’s pricing is competitive, and its customer service is geared towards accommodating the needs of students, including flexible rental terms and easy returns.

eBay: The Auction Alternative

eBay provides a platform for buying used textbooks directly from other students or sellers, often at lower prices than retail. The auction format can yield significant deals, though it’s important to vet sellers by checking ratings and reviews to ensure reliability. eBay’s buyer protection policies add a layer of security to transactions, making it a viable option for those seeking bargains.

Campus Bookstores: The Official Source

While often criticized for higher prices, campus bookstores guarantee that you’re getting the exact books required for your courses, eliminating the risk of incorrect editions. Many bookstores have responded to online competition by offering price matching, rentals, and used book sales, making them more competitive. The convenience of immediate pickup and the ability to physically inspect books before purchase are notable advantages.

BookFinder: The Price Comparison Expert

BookFinder excels as a comparison shopping tool, searching a vast network of sellers to find the best prices on new, used, and international editions. By aggregating prices from various sources, BookFinder helps students make informed decisions, ensuring they get the best deal available across the board.

AbeBooks: The Niche and Rare Textbook Finder

AbeBooks offers a wide selection of new and used books, including hard-to-find and out-of-print textbooks. Its network of independent sellers means that prices can be competitive, and students can find books that are unavailable elsewhere. AbeBooks is particularly useful for those in need of specialized texts.

TextbookRush: A Competitive Contender

TextbookRush provides a broad spectrum of buying options, including new, used, and digital textbooks, along with rental services. Its competitive pricing and buyback program make it an attractive option for students looking to save money and sell their books at the end of the semester.

Barnes & Noble College: The Trusted Retailer

Barnes & Noble College operates bookstores on many campuses but also offers its inventory online. The site provides price matching, ensuring students can get competitive rates while benefiting from the reliability and customer service of a well-established retailer.

ValoreBooks: The Low-Price Leader

ValoreBooks prides itself on offering some of the lowest prices on the market, with a vast selection of over 18 million titles. It provides a mix of rentals, used books, and new textbooks, aiming to be a budget-friendly option for students. by eBay: A Focused Marketplace, a subsidiary of eBay, specializes in selling used books and textbooks at competitive prices. While it operates similarly to eBay, it’s more focused on books, making it easier for students to find what they need.


Visit BooksRun Website

BooksRun is a college textbook buying and selling website with a strong focus on eco-friendliness. They are one of the largest providers of e-textbooks and pride themselves on selling used textbooks so that less paper is wasted. They also have a loyalty program where points earned can go towards buying eco-friendly products or donations to plant trees. One of the best things about BooksRun is that they offer free shipping with absolutely no minimum spending requirement. This makes it the best place to buy textbooks for college if you need to buy a book under $30 (usually the minimum amount for free delivery on other websites).

Maximizing Your Textbook Buying Experience

When navigating these sites, it’s crucial to consider several factors to ensure you’re making the best purchase:

  • Compare Prices: Use comparison tools and check multiple sites to find the best deals. Prices can vary significantly for the same book on different platforms.
  • Check Editions: Ensure the textbook edition matches your course requirements to avoid missing content or page discrepancies.
  • Consider the Condition: For used books, assess the condition carefully. While a lower price is appealing, a book in poor condition may not be worth the savings.
  • Review Shipping Costs and Times: Factor in shipping when comparing prices, and consider how quickly you need the book to arrive.
  • Understand Return Policies: Familiarize yourself with return policies in case the book is not what you expected or your course requirements change.
  • Sell Back Your Books: Look into buyback programs or selling your textbooks at the end of the semester to recoup some of your costs.

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Choose New or Used Textbooks?

How do you make the decision to buy new vs used textbooks? Let's go over the pros and cons of both options to help you figure it out!

These are the pros of buying new textbooks.
  • The biggest benefit of buying a new textbook is that it comes with absolutely no marks which allows you to highlight only the information you want 
  • New textbooks are easily available at bookstores and online
  • If your professor has assigned the newest edition of a textbook because it has important information then you have to buy a new textbook
  • Buying a new textbook gives you access codes for online learning materials 
There is only one major con to buying new textbooks, but it’s a big one.
  • New textbooks are incredibly expensive
There are two main pros of buying used textbooks But they are really important!
  • Used textbooks are much cheaper than new textbooks
  • Used textbooks are previously highlighted so you can see important information easily

You can definitely save a lot of money buying used textbooks but there are some things that you have to watch out for.

These are some of the cons.
  • Sometimes textbooks come with access codes that let you get online materials. These codes are usually valid only for one use, so buying a used textbook means you won't get that access code 
  • Used textbooks might be pretty worn out, but most websites have a no-questions-asked return policy
  • It might be tough to find some used textbooks especially if they are older

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Tips for Using the Best Sites to Buy College Textbooks

Having the ISBN ensures you can compare prices effectively, ensuring the best deal, especially for used books where condition greatly affects price. Always verify the edition number as well to ensure accuracy.

Here are some useful tips when trying to find the best place to buy college textbooks.

Use ISBN numbers

The ISBN number of a book is a unique number that identifies it. If you need a particular edition of a specific book then searching by its ISBN number will guarantee that you get the right book.

Check supplementary materials

When buying used books, carefully check if the seller provides supplementary materials like worksheets, CDs, Etc. Sometimes they aren't needed though, so check with your professor to see if you can make do without them.

Factor in all the costs

Make sure to calculate shipping fees and any other hidden charges when determining the final price of your book. Also account for discounts and promo codes to find the best deal.

Check multiple websites

Don't just buy the first great deal you see, make sure you check several websites including aggregators.

Read the fine print

Make sure you read the policies of each company regarding returns. If you receive a damaged book or if you drop a class you should have the opportunity to return the book and get your money back.