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Buying college textbooks on the internet

HardlystudyingHardlystudying Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
edited July 6 in Parents Forum
Does anyone here have any experience in purchasing class books on the internet?

My son is off for college and he was asking me for some extra cash for books, etc.

He suggested it's cheaper to buy books online for him.

Are they even allowed to sell school books online? I've heard of Paypal, Invoice Simple and a few other services but what are the chances you won't get burned?

Just want to make sure or I'd rather pay more now and buy them from the proper school. At least I know I would get an invoice this way.

How do you guys do it?
Post edited by juillet on

Replies to: Buying college textbooks on the internet

  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 19,565 Senior Member
    Buy or rent. There are several that do it, and Amazon even has pick up for returning rental books at many of the bookstores on campus.

    Sometimes they are cheaper, sometimes not, but almost always more convenient. Your son should make sure he needs all the books or needs the most current version. If he has a lot of literature classes, he may be able to borrow the books from the library. My daughter had a bunch of books that she got from intralibrary loan. Saved a bunch. Engineer daughter got a lot of books from friends after freshman year, and she could have bought a lot of prior editions as used books that first year but we just didn't know. If she'd gone to class first, before buying them, she'd have saved several hundred dollars.
  • bopperbopper Forum Champion CWRU Posts: 11,972 Forum Champion
    First, you have to know which Textbook and which version/issue of the book is needed by the professor. You can do this by looking at the syllabus of the class if you can access that, or you can usually use the official college bookstore to determine which textbook to use.

    Once you know the textbook, you can buy it new or used. You can rent it new and sometimes used. Renting is cheaper than buying, but you won't have it later. Your student would have to decide if it is helpful to have the textbook for future classes (e.g., a calculus book) or could they borrow the book or go to the library or look it up on the internet if they need it in the future.

    Then you can decide where to buy the book. As long as you have the exact version of the book, it doesn't matter where you buy it/rent it. If you buy the book through amazon or Chegg or the like, you will not be buying /renting the book directly and can rely on selling/renting company to take care of any fraud situations which are unlikely.
  • Buster21Buster21 Registered User Posts: 84 Junior Member
    We buy online or from the bookstore depending on price. I usually go on the college bookstore website where I can look up the required book by course number and section. I get the ISBN number and check a few sites like Amazon and Chegg. If renting, your student has to remember to return the book at the end of the semester. Some schools have a good rental program from the bookstore. Sometimes we can buy it used cheaper than the rental cost any way. I also use ebates to get some cash back from book purchases.
  • momocarlymomocarly Registered User Posts: 629 Member
    We get the ISBN number check the price at the college bookstore and then search online for better prices. So far we had a mix. Got some on Amazon and some at the bookstore. Luckily our school does mostly Open Source or school provided books so we haven't had to buy many at all. One we got just because he liked it and wanted a paper copy. This year so far there are no books listed we have to buy!
  • shawnspencershawnspencer Registered User Posts: 3,110 Senior Member
    It's a good place to do it. It is often cheaper. Something else that students often do is go on their college facebook groups which will have a group specifically designated for buying and selling textbooks. Since many of those students have taken the same classes before, it is likely that someone will have the book and want to pass it off. You can then exchange when you are on campus. Saves the hassle of shipping and all that.
  • rosered55rosered55 Registered User Posts: 3,954 Senior Member
    I second what @shawnspencer said.
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Registered User Posts: 28,422 Senior Member
    If you are considering a used book with an access code that has already been used, find out if a new copy of the code can be purchased separately. Sometimes that is possible. Sometimes the only way to get the code is to buy the book new.
  • shawnspencershawnspencer Registered User Posts: 3,110 Senior Member
    Getting books online is pretty much the future and I have never had any issues with it. The only thing is if you rent a book online, you will have to remember to ship it back (they send you a free shipping label) before the deadline or you will be charged a late fee. So if you are renting you have to make sure the deadlines line up to when your semester generally ends. Online books are significantly cheaper than ones from the bookstore and there are even e-books. Used books are a good option to as for most classes there is no reason to get a brand new book.

    Something else that I used frequently when I was a college student was this system called interlibrary loan. My school's library allowed me to get any book from a library across the country. They'd ship it and I could check it out for the semester from the library. It usually only took a couple of days, but I would do it early. The great thing about this is that for many of classes that required multiple books, it was an easy way to get them for free with pretty much guaranteed availability. Sometimes they would even have textbooks, which was amazing because those things were expensive -- but sometimes only the earlier editions. Check to see if his college has a similar policy. I saved hundreds of dollars with this method.
  • GloriaVaughnGloriaVaughn Registered User Posts: 430 Member
    I always ordered my kids textbooks online once they had the ISBN number. I would by used when possible. Saved a lot that way. Amazon books, at least at the time, allowed you to return books to them, even if you didn't buy them from them, for the price they were offering. You were given a credit that you could use to buy the next semesters books. Alibris also has new and used textbooks online. I used to have a list of online book stores where I could compare prices and shipping costs and sometimes bought from several of them a semester.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 30,002 Senior Member
    You really do need the ISBN number, because it reflects the particular version the prof will work off of, sometimes the latest. That's the easiest, surest way to have the textbook the prof wants you to use.

    Sometimes, there is almost no difference between one version and another. But I never wanted my kids to find out the hard way that something important ws altered or missing.

    Mostly, mine rented from an online supplier. They used Chegg initially. At some point, the bookstore facilitated rentals and they could drop them off at therere, at the end. Much less expensive to rent. The books you need to buy and keep are those you'll refer to through all the years of college.

  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff Registered User Posts: 1,508 Senior Member
    As others have said rent/buy used through Amazon and a couple of other known vendors for college books.The descriptions of how worn out or marked up the books are have been accurate. I will pay more for a cleaner book but usually very surprised of how great the books actually are. Also now lots of schools have a copy of the books as part of their curriculum. So no need to buy any books depending on the class. Since it seems all class homework is online even though he had the hard cover books just doing the homework and going to class seemed to be enough.
  • HardlystudyingHardlystudying Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    Yeah I was told about the ISBN number but figured it wouldn't apply to used books. @shawnspencer - Agreed. Getting anything pretty much online is the future. Guess I'll check out Amazon for now and go from there. Thanks for the info guys. Really appreciate the help here. Thx!
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 9,860 Senior Member
    You can later sell them on Amazon or other sources as well (college bookstores will often buy back their books too).
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 72,339 Senior Member
    Yep...my kid had a running textbook account with Amazon. She bought books, and she sold books. It was easy peasy.

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