Best Sites to Buy, Sell and Rent Textbooks

Student carrying a stack of textbooks
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Saving money on textbooks has never been easier, but there are a dizzying number of options to wade through. Should you buy your books? Rent them? Purchase a digital copy? Here's what you need to know to make the right choice, including advice on where to purchase your textbooks for the best deal.

Renting vs. Buying vs. eBooks - Which Textbook Option is Right for You?

While having so many textbook options is admittedly a bit overwhelming, it means you have the flexibility to choose the option that's going to work best for you -- and that's a very good thing.

Here's an overview of all three options, so you can begin to sort through which one is going to be right for you.

Buying Textbooks

  • You can choose between new and used books.
  • If you buy new books, you can be confident that they'll have the online access codes, CDs, DVDs or supporting materials that they're supposed to come with.
  • You can keep your textbooks for as long as you'd like to, whether that's a semester or forever.
  • You'll have physical copies of your books that you can mark up any way you'd like. Write in them; highlight them; no one is going to call you out for it.
  • If a new edition of your textbook comes out, you may not be able to sell it back at the end of the semester.

Renting Textbooks

  • You may get a new or used textbook.
  • You may or may not be allowed to write or highlight in your books.
  • If you get a used textbook, it may come marked up by other students. That can be a time-saver, if someone has highlighted the things that you'd highlight, or super annoying, if you get a book where someone's gone marker happy.
  • Rented books don't come with access codes. So if there's online content that you need to be able to access for your class, you'll have to purchase an access code separately. Sometimes you can buy this from the textbook rental company, but often times you have to buy it directly from the manufacturer. In some cases you may not be able to buy the access code separately. 
  • Any CD or DVD that originally came with a book isn't guaranteed to still be with the book.
  • Sometimes rental periods are flexible. Sometimes they aren't.

Renting/Buying Digital Copies (eTextbooks)

  • You don't have heavy books to lug around. Just load your books onto your preferred device, and your books will be with you wherever you go.
  • You can highlight your books, just like a regular book.
  • There's nothing to ship back at the end of the semester.
  • You don't have to worry about your books getting stolen.

How to Find the Best Price on Textbooks

Nobody likes to overpay, so once you decide whether renting or buying is right for you, use DirectTextbook.com to determine which online textbook seller has the best deal. They'll check the prices at 200 online stores, so you can shop confident that you're getting the best price on the books you need. They'll also show you who will buy your books back for the most money.

Where to Get Your Textbooks

Buying your textbooks from your school's bookstore may be convenient, but you'll probably save more, if you buy or rent your books online. Here's a look at some of the best places to get your textbooks.

Chegg

  • You can buy your textbooks, rent them or purchase eTextbooks.
  • If you need to keep your textbooks longer, just fill out the request form to get up to 30 extra days (for free). Need to keep your books longer than that? You can also buy an extension.
  • They cover the cost of shipping your books back. Just print out a prepaid label.
  • They offer 21-day risk-free returns.
  • You can highlight your textbooks, but you can’t write in them.

Amazon

  • They rent and sell textbooks and eTextbooks. 
  • If you have Amazon Prime (or Prime Student), you'll get free two-day shipping, otherwise you'll pay their regular shipping rates.
  • Return shipping is free. Just print the return shipping label.
  • They sometimes offer promo codes to sweeten the deal.
  • They'll email you a reminder when your due date is approaching.

CampusBookRentals 

  • You get to choose the rental period.
  • They allow you to write and highlight in the books
  • Return shipping is on them.

Textbooks.com

  • They offer free shipping on orders over $25. Otherwise you'll pay $3.99 a book.
  • You have to cover the return shipping.

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