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Buy Used College Textbooks. - No shocker here: 80% of textbooks sold each year are used, but here are some important details:

  • Make sure the book you are looking at is the correct version or release by using the ISBN to verify. Check out the campus bookstore; this will establish your local maximum price, plus you can get the ISBN confirmed.

  • Ask your professor if an older version is OK. It could be as much as half the price. Don't go back more than one edition. Use the index to find the information in your previous edition when the instructors tell the students with the new (expensive) book what pages to read. This tip is great for business or online accounting degree courses as prices for new books can be especially expensive.

  • There is no suggested retail price on used discount textbooks, so shop around. However, used textbook inventories change quickly, so use a real-time quick comparison tool like our Textbook Price Comparison Robot to locate your discount college textbooks.

  • Buying from individuals on marketplaces like Amazon Marketplace may be cheapest but look at the location of the seller and shipping methods offered. Media Mail can take two weeks from coast to coast. Follow up after the purchase to make sure it has been shipped.

  • Check the bulletin boards at school for used book ads or buy used books from students in the classes ahead of you. Watch for or organize textbook swap parties. The local Craigslist is also a great source (never meet a seller alone!)

  • Look into renting your textbooks. It means you have to promptly ship the text book back at the end of the course but the prices are very good. Check out the leader - Chegg. Also compare the rental price to used minus sellback value. See 6 rules to textbook renting

New textbooks, highly specialized textbooks, and popular books like dictionaries, medical dictionaries and famous books:

  • Huge, high volume online bookstores like Amazon, Barnes & Noble and BooksAMillion will usually have the best prices on books everyone buys.

  • Use a  textbook price comparison robot  to find the lowest prices on new and popular books. Most robots used site data feeds that can be hours old so check the in-stock status.

  • Check out if the site offers free shipping over a minimum purchase and group you book orders to qualify.

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  • Order your books EARLY ! 

  • Verify the shipping method and "ship from" location. It can take 4-6 working days to arrive if shipped from you side of the continent and up to 14 days for media mail (cheapest but slowest) across the continent. Thanks Jun for this tip

  • Consider the resale value as you use the book. Textbook care affects its condition and resale value. Reduce overall cost by maximizing resale value.

  • Put you book on the market ASAP after finals. Don't jump the gun and list too early; most services require you to ship the book within two days of its sale.

  • Get the best price by selling it yourself.  I have found the best demand (quickest sales) from Amazon but don't overlook the convenience and speed of selling it to an online book seller like eCampus border(a little cash in hand could be better than unsold inventory online) See our textbook buyback page for more choices.

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