Textbook Price Comparison for Renting, Buying or Shopping Online
Lately there has been a lot of debate concerning the best way to procure your textbooks for the next semester.
“Is it better to buy from your school’s bookstore?“
“How about an online site, like Half.com or Amazon?”
“What about renting? That’s the latest trend, right?”
I really was not sure what I was going to do this semester. My parents are making me pay for all of my books, so I definitely want to go the cheapest route possible.
I decided the best plan of attack would be to make a chart to compare my options. I found out which books I will be taking next semester, and here’s what I came up with.
In three out of four cases, renting textbooks from Chegg.com is the cheapest option. However, the downside to renting my books is that I cannot keep them after I am done with them. Sometimes, this would make me really sad because – contrary to popular belief – some college books are actually kind of cool. However, this is not the norm, so I guess saying “adios” to my books at the end of the semester wouldn’t be too bad.
Half.com was the cheapest Internet bookstore I found. The downside is that most of the books are used, so you really do not know what condition they will be in when you get them. You also have to pay shipping, which varies by book and seller, so these books could end up being more expensive or in worse condition than you planned.
Amazon was also a valid source, especially if you pick a book that qualifies for Free Super Saver Shipping. (Just for the record, most of my books were eligible.) All of the books I looked for were available as new or used, which allows you the option to avoid already highlighted paragraphs and ripped pages if you want to pay a few extra dollars.
The best thing about Barnes and Noble’s online bookstore, in my opinion, is that all orders over $25 receive free shipping. Barnes and Noble also has a very wide selection, so if you are looking for an obscure book that is not on Amazon or Half.com, B&N might be a good place to search.
My campus bookstore was the most expensive retailer for every book. However, the plus side is that a campus bookstore is almost guaranteed to have the most random, obscure book you will ever need for a class because professors tend to give these stores their booklists before any other retailer. Follett Higher Education Group recently announced plans to rent textbooks through these bookstores. Unfortunately, only one of my books was available for rent.
For me, renting my textbooks through Chegg or buying them through Half.com are the least expensive options. However, this could just be due to the classes I am taking. I strongly encourage everyone to make their own list and plan ahead to get the best deals for this semester.
If you have already have your books for next semester, let us know where you got them and what your experience was like below!