If you listen carefully, you can hear the soft sound of your wallet weeping as you scramble to collect all of the textbooks you didn’t think you’d really need, and it’s not hard to guess why. Textbook shopping is here again and, unfortunately, it’s not always cheap. Luckily for you, there are budget-friendly sites where you can purchase or rent cheap textbooks for college, and I’ve rounded them up in one place to make your life easier. I’ve got you, sis.
For those who prefer renting books to purchasing them, Chegg is worth checking out. A self-proclaimed hub of student resources, Chegg offers both textbooks for purchase and for rent with a 21-day satisfaction guarantee. In other words, if you aren’t happy with your textbook or you decide to drop the class, you can ship it back to them for a full refund, minus the cost of shipping. And if you’re new to the textbook rental scene and still have some old textbooks lying around, you can sell them to Chegg and make some extra cash. Chegg offers buyback quotes online, so you can find out how much you could get for your books instantly!
Special feature: Textbooks aren’t the most exciting things to buy, but Chegg tries to spice up the experience by sending a gift to you along with your purchases. “Last semester I rented three books, and along with my order they included a 5-hour Energy and a free month-long subscription to Hulu Plus,” says Rowan, a junior at the University of North Carolina.
Campus Book Rentals is another textbook rental site that’s good for students who may normally shy away from renting their textbooks. The site makes it so easy to find the book you need, and its price. According to their website, they’ve saved students over $113 million. Not bad!
Special feature: Although you may worry that you have to be extra careful with your books all semester so you can return them in good condition, Campus Book Rentals encourages its renters to treat their textbooks as if they were their own, so highlight away! Just keep in mind that what you give is what you get — chances are, the books you rent will come with markings from the previous owners, too.
There isn’t much that you can’t find on Amazon, and cheap textbooks are no exception. You can search, buy, sell and rent textbooks and e-books quicker than it takes to get distracted by all the other fabulous deals on the site.
Special feature: Students with a university email address are eligible for six months of free Amazon Prime through the Amazon Student deal — and that means free two-day shipping on millions of items. It’s perfect for those last-minute class textbook additions or for anyone prone to procrastination. “My drawing teacher told us we needed an art projects book by the end of the week, and my college bookstore was out,” says Lauren, a senior at Colorado State University. “I was able to get [it] on Amazon that day. It came really quickly — in two days — so I was able to get it on time.”
Textbooks.com is as straightforward as it gets, with an easy-to-use search function that’ll get the dreaded textbook buying process over with as fast as possible. According to its website, it’s the home of the most used textbooks on the web, with prices up to 90 percent off the cover price. You have options to buy, rent and sell textbooks, so it might very well be your one-stop shop to save money and make cash.
Special feature: If you spend more than $25 (and let’s be real — with textbooks, you likely will), shipping is free. Shipping is also free when you mail Textbooks.com any books that you sell to them.
For the socially conscious, Better World Books is a great option for buying textbooks. As an eco-friendly company, Better World Books collects used books, saves them from landfills, and helps fund literacy projects in the United States and around the world. And all of that is on top of their cheap used book prices!
Special feature: The best part of buying through Better World Books is their Book for Book promise: for every book purchased through their website, they will donate a book to someone who needs it, and they have partnerships with nonprofit organizations like Books For Africa and Room to Read.
This company knows college students. If your total order is over $35 then you automatically get free shipping. Given that most textbooks can get pretty pricey, free shipping is always a wonderful thing and will further justify why you should use this company.
Special feature: They also give you the opportunity to sell your books. They basically give you a chance to make money on their website!
You’ve probably heard of this one before, but don’t want to relive the nightmares of access codes and emailing teachers at 1 am mid-panic. Their brand new Cengage Unlimited eTextbook program gives you access to 14,000 digital textbooks, study guides and test prep options for $69.99 a semester – less than the cost of most individual textbooks, even used!
Special feature: If you choose to just rent from them, you can choose the length of your rental period, which will be beneficial if you need it for more than one semester.
Having a hard time deciding between all these websites? Your best bet might be starting at AllBookstores.com, a hub where you can search for your book at dozens of online bookstores, such as Amazon, eBay, Barnes & Noble, and Half.com.
Special feature: AllBookstores.com is pretty no-frills, but what it lacks in extra-special features it makes up for in its “Compare Prices” option — one click of a button and you’ll be looking at all of your price options for a textbook side by side. It’s like waving a magic wand over your wallet!
BIGWORDS also functions as an internet-wide textbook search engine, comparing pricing on every major textbook site from Chegg to Amazon. From brand new copies to rentals to eBooks and even access codes, this site will show you the lowest possible prices, with any additional fees – like shipping – included, so there are no surprises on checkout. Plus, they automatically scan for applicable coupons or promo codes!
Special feature: BIGWORDS offers the same function for selling textbooks, searching for the highest buyback offers year-round.
No matter where you choose to get your books, always take the time to shop around for the best prices. Don’t be afraid to mix and match when it comes to where you buy and rent. Do you have a favorite sites where you like to buy your textbooks? Let us know!
Lauren, Colorado State University
Rowan, University of North Carolina
The Her Campus National Editors write about products we love and think you’ll love too. Her Campus has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase. All products are in stock and all prices are accurate as of publication.