One of the worst kept secrets among students is that school bookstores overcharge for textbooks. If you attend university, you’ve no doubt encountered this fact, and maybe at some point you’ve even bought a book at the unreasonable price offered directly by the school. But why would anyone do that when plenty of websites out there will sell or rent the very same book for a fraction of the price?
Two of the most used sites for getting textbooks (besides Amazon, of course) are Chegg and Textbooks.com, but which should you use for your next college textbook buying excursion? Well, let’s take a look at what the two bookstore behemoths have to offer, then you can decide which site is right for you.
Renting and Buying Textbooks
In the end, both sites are built with one major function in mind; getting the textbooks as cheaply as possible. Quite frankly, the search features between the two sites are so similar that it’s almost impossible to choose a winner. They both allow you to search by ISBN, author, title, and keyword. Textbooks.com does have an advanced search function, letting you drill down deeper in your search results, but Chegg seems to be lacking this feature. However, it’s inconsequential, since you will rarely find yourself just searching for random books, as you will generally be looking for a specific title required for a class.
So with the search features being so similar, it’s going to come down to price for the books and shipping cost.
Let’s look at a book called “Understanding Nutrition, 13th edition” on both sites to compare the options. Chegg offers the book on rental with a return date of 5/30/2014. We’ve noticed that Chegg’s textbook rental rates vary by day and state, but the final price includes shipping. Textbooks.com offers the rental as well but uses Chegg to fulfil their orders and charges $5.99 for shipping. Shipping rates vary by state, but this will at least give you a ballpark figure. So, even though Chegg fulfills Textbook.com rental orders, Textbooks.com may end up being a tiny bit cheaper.
Now, if you are looking to buy the very same book, Textbooks.com is more affordable. In this example, “Understanding Nutrition, 13th edition” is offered by Textbooks.com for just $130, while Chegg lists it for $132.99. However, if used books aren’t your thing, Chegg has Textbooks.com beat for a new copy, with a price of $187.99 while Textbooks.com charges $191.93. Prices are accurate at the time of writing.
Both sites offer free shipping, but Chegg requires you to spend a minimum of $85, while Textbooks.com only requires a minimum purchase of $25. Chegg also gives you seven days to access the eBook version while you wait for the book to be shipped, which is great for those last-minute orders of a book you need the very next day.
If renting an eBook for 180 days is more your speed, then both sites offer it, and they both offer it for the same $60.49 price tag.
Selling Books Back
Both sites are happy to purchase your books back from you when you are done with them. We will stick with the same book for comparing the prices offered by the two sites. Quite frankly, there really is no comparison here, Chegg clearly pays better — Chegg will pay out $82.95, while Textbooks.com only offers $37. Of course, different books will vary, and if you had a copy that you didn’t want to sell yourself on eBay or Amazon, Chegg would be the way to go.
It’s also worth noting that both sites will only buy books that are in good condition. So if you are trying to unload a book with writing all over it and rips in pages, you are probably better off selling it yourself, as once you ship it to Textbooks.com or Chegg, it’s likely to be rejected.
Outside of buying and selling books is where Chegg really shines. It offers an incredible tool that allows you to get homework help from a ton of textbooks, which will make the life of any student way easier. Now this help is really more like answers to questions in the book, so it can easily be used as a tool to just cheat your way through assignments, but of course, that will lead to problems when it comes time to take a test.
The service isn’t free, and costs $14.95 on a montly subscription, but it is an awesome feature that Textbooks.com just cannot compete with.
In the end, there’s a reason these two sites are among the leaders in textbook purchasing and renting, and that’s because both sites offer robust features and reasonable prices on books. It’s hard to pick a winner, because you are better off checking both websites before you jump in and buy a book from either one. After all, shopping around is always a good choice, and these two sites are definitely among the first you should visit.
Have you purchased books from either of these two websites? How was your experience? Hit the comments section below and let us know!