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Buying college textbooks on the internet

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Replies to: Buying college textbooks on the internet

  • LBowieLBowie Registered User Posts: 1,841 Senior Member
    I let my kids handle buying books for their classes. I felt like I would be meddling too much if I even offered. They managed to figure it out, and found good deals, often on-line. One time my older son accidentally sold back a book he was renting, but it all got sorted out in the end.
  • rickle1rickle1 Registered User Posts: 1,271 Senior Member
    S just finished freshmen yr and rented all of his books online. Very inexpensive (literally saver several hundred dollars). However, I told him that he should "invest" in purchasing the books for his major as he might need them to reference things later.
  • InigoMontoyaInigoMontoya Registered User Posts: 1,704 Senior Member
    I bought all my kid's text books for high school so I just continued to do the same for college. Both kids went to schools that use Barnes and Noble. Here's the process I used:

    1. If possible, identify if the book will be used for more than one semester
    2. Determine if this is a book the student will possibly want as a reference after graduation
    3. Identify if an online access code is required and if it can be purchased separately from the book
    4. Get prices from the university book store
    5. Look to see if the book is a special edition specifically for that university
    6. Copy the ISBN the university book store provided and plug it into Amazon for comparison


    Then decisions can be made as to whether to
    1. Buy new online
    2. Buy used online
    3. Buy an electronic version
    3. Rent
    4. Borrow or buy from another student directly (not really an option freshman year, but sometimes possible once the student gets to know others in the major)

    I have never yet found a book cheaper through Barnes and Noble than I can through Amazon or Amazon marketplace.

    Books that have longevity I buy new from Amazon or Amazon marketplace. The key in the marketplace is to look at the number of sales the user has in the past and what their reviews are like.

    Be aware that orders through Amazon Marketplace may take weeks to ship, so it's not always an option last-minute. Also, multiple purchases from the same seller can save on shipping charges.

    Also note - if you use the service many bookstores provide to have the books shipped to the bookstore, it can be a madhouse the first day or two with so many students going to pick up their books.

    Bear in mind this isn't like most high schools where books are the property of the school. Students are responsible for buying books themselves, and then can do whatever they want with them afterwards. With the books my kids choose not to keep, we usually bring them in boxes to a local used book store that gives us a decent amount for them. I could get more if I sold them on Amazon but I'm not that motivated.
  • FlippersMomFlippersMom Registered User Posts: 86 Junior Member
    I've purchased all of my son's textbooks so far on-line using eBay, Amazon or iFlipd. It is so much cheaper than buying new! As others have already said, use the ISBN number for each textbook so you know you are buying the correct book and edition. He has then re-sold them on eBay when the semester is finished.
  • momofthreeboysmomofthreeboys Registered User Posts: 16,556 Senior Member
    As long as the ISBN number matches and if it is a book with a necessary code unlock it works great. My last does a combo of purchase and rental with his Amazon account. I have also picked up a couple of the engineering texts on eBay.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 30,042 Senior Member
    edited July 9
    When I sold academic books on Amazon, they expected a short shipping window or I could get dinged. Granted, I'm an individual, but was unloading about 100 books (mostly for graduate studies. Lol, I still have more.) So while you don't want some random newbie who could hang you up, smaller sellers with some rep can work.

    But renting is such a deal. And we found most school bookstores staff up for book delivery.
  • momtogirls2momtogirls2 Registered User Posts: 534 Member
    I use bigwords.com to search several sites for the best price and options.
  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 Registered User Posts: 11,966 Senior Member
    I'm going to make the same plea here I've made elsewhere--if it is a reading-based class, like for instance, freshman comp (what I teach) make sure the student has the book before classes start.

    If only all professors only listed books they actually planned to use...both my kids have purchased books "on the list" that turned out not be used not at all, or once for one chapter or something (and were on hold in the library in any case).

    (The student) emailing the prof to check is perhaps a happy medium approach if unsure.
  • my-3-sonsmy-3-sons Registered User Posts: 2,919 Senior Member
    If only all professors only listed books they actually planned to use.
    ^^^This. My kids starting waiting until the first class to purchase books after being burned several times by buying unnecessary books.
  • InigoMontoyaInigoMontoya Registered User Posts: 1,704 Senior Member
    One thing to note is most of the time, the bookstore program will only allow one edition to be entered, and it's going to be the edition they have in stock, which will be the current edition and (usually) the most expensive.

    Some professors will allow older editions to be used, especially if there hasn't been substantial change. H is a Chemistry professor, and he always emails students well before the semester to let them know they can go several editions back in the text book. It's not like that much has changed in Chemistry over the past few years. Some of the problems change, some errors get corrected, maybe a few things get rearranged and emphasis changed, but it doesn't impact the way he teaches.
  • NJWrestlingmomNJWrestlingmom Registered User Posts: 758 Member
    In addition to others mentioned here, I found a site called AbeBooks. It's multiple sellers, many with free shipping. The downside is it can take a while. But my son often has smaller books (not really text books) that he needs for his education major and they end up being cheaper to buy than rent. Since they aren't $150 text books I don't mind ordering them early. Even if he doesn't use them, they averaged less than $10 each to buy so I figure they are a good reference for his future career anyway.
    They do also have the $150 text books, often cheaper. I just make sure the prof has definitely communicated they will be using them before I buy since they do take a week or 2 to arrive.
  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff Registered User Posts: 1,545 Senior Member
    I have also used Abe books. Their descriptions are right on. Never a problem
  • MomOf3DDsMomOf3DDs Registered User Posts: 172 Junior Member
    @garland I would suggest you send out a group e-mail to your students on the importance of having the books by the first day of class. Students have been burned for years when buying books that never get touched. My own kids try to contact their professors beforehand to see if they will tell them if the books will be used.
  • lastone03lastone03 Registered User Posts: 796 Member
    Textbooks.com, Chegg, Barnes & Noble, Amazon. I've also used https://bookscouter.com/ which helps you find the cheapest books. As mentioned, try and use a site with good reviews. The only one I ever had trouble with was Valor.
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