As a college student, I would have to say that for me the most difficult part of financing higher education is tuition. Going to a private institution, and even a public institution, can be a very expensive life cost. Fortunately, there are scholarships and grants scattered all over the place just waiting for students to take advantage of.
With that taken care of, the second most difficult finance in college is textbooks. Textbooks can cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars per semester. For the average undergraduate college student that could amount to approximately $5,000 just for textbooks! As with tuition, there are great opportunities to save a lot of money on textbooks and my favorite methods live online.
These are my top 5 sites for buying, selling, trading, or renting college textbooks :
Half.com is a subsidiary of eBay which is basically eBay without the bidding aspect. It predominantly focuses on person-to-person or business-to-person sales of books/textbooks, movies, music, and games/game systems which makes it a perfect choice for those who are interested in selling an old textbook or buying one used on the cheap.
Textbook listings give all the necessary information about the text and sorts copies for sale by quality. They also make it a breeze to list a book simply by entering the ISBN number.
Half.com charges a 15% commission to sellers and uses the eBay feedback system for user ratings so you can decide which sellers to trust.
Amazon is one of the biggest, most respected, and most trusted online merchants so it would make sense that it would be a great choice for buying and selling new and used textbooks. Amazon’s textbook section is very identical to Half.com. They charge the same 15% commission for textbooks and pay shipping costs to the seller. However, it may be a bit more difficult than Half.com to sift through used books. This would be a great choice if you are familiar with and enjoy the Amazon shopping experience.
Chegg has a very interesting business model. They rent textbooks rather than sell. This makes getting a hold of textbooks much cheaper and you don’t have to deal with selling them or holding on to them after you are done with the book.
Chegg is the Netflix of textbooks. How it works is simple. You go to the site and select the textbooks you need. You pay the one-time rental price for each book and pay for them to ship it to you. You then keep the book until you are finished with it or you have the option to purchase the book later. When you are finished with the book, revisit the site and you can print out a shipping label for the books you want to send back and you ship them back to Chegg. It’s as easy as that!
[NO LONGER WORKS] Socialbib is perhaps the most interesting way to get the textbooks you need while getting rid of the ones you don’t. This site allows you to “trade” books with other “traders.” How this works is you create an account on the site. By default, you have one credit. Credits earn you free books. To gain credits you give away your old textbooks.
So you are essentially trading books for FREE although it isn’t the same person you are getting a book from as the one you are giving a book to but in the end it works out. It is a great idea for saving cash and is worth a try.
Rakuten.com (formerly Buy.com) is another great online-only retailer with a great discount textbook section. Rakuten.com is similar to Amazon in that they sell just about everything from baby things to sports. They have highly competitive pricing and discounts and pretty much takes any form of payment including Google Checkout and Paypal.
Not only do they have great prices on products, they provide inexpensive shipping, and they even compare their prices to the prices of leading competitors so you know you’re getting a good deal.
Don’t forget you’ll need something to put all those books in. Check out the best backpacks for college students.
How do you get your textbooks each semester? Let us know in the comments.