Ah, textbooks. They’re the bane of everyone’s existence. If you look at any college student’s social media account around the beginning of a new semester, you’ll see them complaining about the high cost of textbooks. And I agree that textbook prices are ridiculous. What’s even worse is when professors publish their own version of a textbook and charge like three times the price and you have to buy it from the school because there are no other options.
Since I love saving money, and I know y’all probably do, too, here’s a quick little guide detailing how I buy textbooks.
Disclaimer: This may not work for everyone. I’m an English graduate student (previously an English major), so I lucked out in that most of my “textbooks” are regular old reading books. But, as you can see from the photo above, I’ve also had to buy regular textbooks throughout my undergrad career, too. This is the information I’ve collected over the years to help you find the best deals on textbook prices.
First of all, the main site I use is to compare prices is Get Textbooks, which you can enter any ISBN and they pull prices from dozens of textbook sites across the world. It organizes them by “Rent” or “Buy,” and then “Price,” “Shipping,” “Total,” “Condition,” etc., so there’s never any surprise price-wise. The ONLY reason I ever stray from GetTextbooks is if I can’t find a decent price (I try to make sure the books are under $10, but sometimes that does not happen).
Another main site that I use is Thriftbooks (see my blog post all about Thriftbooks here), but this site isn’t guaranteed to have actual textbooks. I use it more for actual reading books. It’s always worth a second to check out Thriftbooks because I don’t think GetTextbooks searches this site (or at least I have yet to find out if it does).
Something major that you should use regardless of whether you’re buying textbooks, dresses, or anything else is Ebates, which gives you a percentage of cash back if you shop at specific sites online, not just textbook sites. For example, Half.com gives you 4% cash back, and other sites that you find on gettextsbooks.com gives you a percentage back as well. So I got around $5 back from buying $130 worth of books on half.com a few years ago. Now, this doesn’t sound like much, but if you do any sort of shopping online and use Ebates, it adds up fast. I’ve earned almost $50 from shopping online since I’ve started using it back in 2014. They mail out checks pretty frequently, too (but you have to have over $5.01 to get a check mailed). Bonus: Install the Ebates toolbar icon to be sure you never miss a deal!!
For the Fall 2015 semester, I probably got around $700 worth of textbooks for under $200. (The picture at the top of this post is about half of the books I had to order for that semester.)
I hope this helps you as much as it’s helped me. (The best part about buying textbooks online? If you have to order a ton of them, every day going to the mailbox is like Christmas!)
**WARNING** ALWAYS BE SURE YOU CHECK THE SHIPPING DATES ON THESE TEXTBOOK SITES. Some of them ship from overseas and will take a month (or longer!) to get here, which isn’t good if you need the book the first week of class. Sometimes you can save a lot of money getting textbooks from the overseas sites, but do so at your own risk!