Student Money Saving Tips: How to Find Used Textbooks

Published May 26, 2009

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Used textbooks are a budget-friendly option that every college student should consider. This article tells you how you can find used textbooks and offers links to the best textbook resources around the web.

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Search Your Campus Book Store

Your campus bookstore is one of the first places to look for used textbooks. Students often return the books they purchased the previous semester to their local store. Although deals can vary, you may be able to save as much as 50 percent on the textbooks you need. If you do decide to shop at your campus bookstore, be sure to ask the clerk about additional savings that you can take advantage of, such as coupons and bulk discounts.

Search the Web

You can save hundreds of dollars every year when you buy used textbooks online. There are a number of different sites that specialize in used textbooks. A few of the best sites to try include:

  • Alibris - Alibris offers deals on millions of used textbooks from hundreds of sellers. Other features include free shipping and discounts on bundles.
  • eCampus.com - Students can save up to 75 percent on used textbooks and take 90 days to pay when they buy from eCampus.
  • Biblio - Biblio offers millions of new and used textbooks. Students save an average of 40 percent off retail value.
  • Half.com - Half.com's Textbook Superstore is a good place to find deals on used textbooks that are being sold by bookstores and other students. Buyers can check seller feedback ratings prior to purchase and save on shipping when buying multiple books from the same seller.
  • Amazon - Amazon remains to be one of the best places online to save money on books.

Comparison Shop

Comparison shopping is a good idea when you buy almost anything--used textbooks are no exception. You can sometimes save hundreds of dollars when they choose to buy from one store versus another. If you don't have a lot of time to comparison shop, the following websites will compare prices for you and ensure that you get the best deal on used textbooks:

  • CampusBooks - This free comparison site helps students search for new and used textbooks through dozens of stores. The average student saves 61 percent.
  • CampusBooks4Less - This site searches all of the major online bookstores to help you find the best deal on textbooks. The site also offers promotional codes and coupons that can be used at the store you decide to buy from.
  • BookFinder - With more than 150 million books in its search engine from multiple sellers, BookFinder makes it easy to find cheap used textbooks.
  • DealOz - Students can save up to 95 percent on more than 10 million books when they comparison shop DealOz. The site also offers free coupons.
  • Froogle Google - This beta search tool from Google is a nifty way to compare prices on used textbooks from multiple sellers.

Trade with Other Students

Textbook swapping sites are becoming more commonplace as education costs continue to rise. Although every site works differently, most offer no-cost exchanges for students. A few swapping sites that are worth investigating include:

  • TextSwap - TextSwap is a free textbook exchange service for university students. Nearly 50 schools nationwide participate.
  • MonsterTrade - Students can trade almost anything on this swapping site, including used textbooks.
  • BookMooch - BookMooch is an interesting service that allows you to get three books for every one you give away. This service is best reserved for items on your required reading list, though there are some textbooks available.

Rent a Textbook

Online book rental services are another option worth considering when you need used textbooks. Most services have a wide selection of titles, flexible renting periods and significant discounts. Some of the most popular book rental services among students include:

  • Chegg - Students can save between 65 and 85 percent when they rent like-new textbooks from Chegg.
  • Campus Book Rentals - This site offers significant discounts and free shipping on used textbook rentals. Students can also earn cash when they refer a friend.
  • BookRenter - Students can save up to 75 percent on used textbooks when they rent from BookRenter.com.

Other Ideas

There are many other ways to get your hands on used textbooks in addition to the methods mentioned above. A few things you may want to try:

  • Check the classified section of area newspapers for leads on used textbooks.
  • Make a list of the used textbooks you need and place your own ad in the classified section of your local or student-run newspaper.
  • Pay attention to all of those colorful flyers hung around campus--some of them may have been put up by fellow students who are willing to sell their textbooks.
  • Search the web for free books you can read online.
  • Borrow textbooks from your college or university library.

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