You’ve signed up for classes and have received your schedule. Now you must buy books. It’s unavoidable and can cut a giant hole into your budget. Although colleges and teachers are increasingly using online classrooms and materials, textbooks are still a staple of the American higher education system.
You may find what you need at your on-campus bookstore, but sometimes, the books you want are out of stock. You can wait until they re-order or you can try to buy online. New textbooks are always expensive. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, the bookstore has buybacks from last year’s students. Used books save you money, if you can find them, but they sell like hotcakes. If you’re a bit tardy with the shopping, you may have to look elsewhere. The internet can be your treasure trove for college reading material.
Before you search online, make sure you know what books you need and which edition. It is best to get the ISBN, a unique number, usually printed on one of the first pages of the book, which helps to locate a book quickly and accurately. All sites offer preferred search by ISBN. Know the appropriate price range for each book, so you don’t pay more than you would at the store. And make sure that you really need a particular book. Returning it may not be so easy.
As you would on eBay or similar online markets, research the individual sellers before committing to a purchase. Usually, you can check ratings or visit their online store. There is always a risk, but if a seller has a good reputation, you can probably buy with some confidence. Make sure to order your textbooks far enough in advance, to have them ready when classes begin.
I checked out several online bookstores that promise to sell thousands of college textbooks. I ran several of my own books through the checklist and compared prices and availability. I came up with some favorites – and some duds.
www.half.com has some textbooks, but I couldn’t find any of the more specialized texts.
www.valorebooks.com is more compliant and has decent prices. Books are shipped from individual sellers, who are rated for quality.
www.alibris.com has some nice prices, but warns that the edition shown may not be the one for sale. The actual listings may show a different ISBN. I decided not to buy.
www.cheapesttextbooks.com is my favorite site. Easy to navigate and well organized, it shows the proper ISBN and edition number and gives a price comparison for each book listed. It also gives shipping rates with many free shipping offers. It compares stores, such as half.com, Amazon, Textbooks.com, Overstock and others.
Shopping for textbooks should not be wallet-breaking or mind-boggling. Using online book stores may ease your load a little, lessen the hassles, and help you concentrate on your studies. Perhaps it will take a little of the stress out of your college experience.