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The Best College Textbook Stores

Where Can You Find the Cheapest College Textbooks?

Picture this: Emma is a sophomore majoring in Economics. A new semester is approaching, and she's been handed her list of required readings. Instead of braving the long lines at the campus bookstore and potentially paying high prices, she turns to online college textbook stores.

In a matter of minutes, she's located every textbook she needs, some at heavily discounted prices or even available for rent. Not only does she save money, but she also saves time, making her semester preparations smooth and hassle-free. Right on, Emma!

Monday, May 20th

2024 College Textbook Store Reviews

Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award Knetbooks Review 5 Star Rating

Knetbooks

5 Star Rating
  • Free Standard shipping on all orders
  • Prepaid UPS return labels
  • Flexible rental options
  • Text reminders for due dates
  • Highlighting and note-taking allowed within reasonable limits
  • Positive customer reviews and high ratings
Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award

Knetbooks was founded in 2009 with the goal of providing affordable textbook rentals to college students. They became a customer favorite for their budget options and straightforward rentals.

Rent or buy

In 2011, the company was acquired by a major textbook retailer, leading to further improvements such as a wider selection of rentals, faster shipping, and better customer support. Knetbooks has since saved a total of $46,081,677 for 406,328 students, remaining dedicated to their mission of making college more affordable. While they focus on rentals, students can also opt to purchase the books they've rented.

Special offers and free shipping

Knetbooks claims to be the most affordable textbook rental service, and they back it up in a few ways. For example, they offer promotions such free 6-10 day Standard shipping on all orders, prepaid UPS return labels, and extra discounts for large orders and email subscribers. Knetbooks recommends customers shop early and bundle their orders to save even more.

Low rental prices

Rental prices on Knetbooks are low. The title we've checked against every site in this review rents Short Term for $15.58 and $28.81 for a semester, which is cheaper than some of its competitors. That title is available for purchase (used) for $71.24, which is a little higher than competitor prices.

Best College Textbook Stores

Faster shipping available for a fee

If you do happen to need your textbook right away, you can opt for Expedited or Two-Day shipping for $10 + $2 per item or $32 + $7.99 per item respectively. These rates are a little high, so it's best to plan ahead.

Get text alerts about due dates

Knetbooks understands that college students have a lot on their plates. That's why they offer flexible rental options and make sure to keep their customers in the loop. With Knetbooks, you have the freedom to choose the rental duration that works best for you, and you can easily extend or purchase your rental whenever you need to. Plus, they'll keep you updated on the status of your order and remind you of upcoming due dates through text messages.

Ambiguous charges for late returns

We did find this in their terms of service: "Knetbooks reserves the right to charge your card a late fee of any amount leading up to but not exceeding the new list price as indicated on our site at the time of the charge for a book that is not returned." We're not thrilled by this policy, but their text reminders about due dates reassure us that they aren't trying to trip you up to extort you for late fees.

Best College Textbook Stores

Highlighting is allowed

When renting textbooks from Knetbooks, there are a few important things to keep in mind. Renting is a great option if you don't need the book for a long time or if you don't plan on taking extensive notes or highlighting. It's also good to know that rental books don't come with supplemental materials like CDs or access codes, unless otherwise indicated. But if you end up loving your textbook for some reason and want to keep it (nerd), you have the option to purchase it after the rental period. Feel free to highlight and take notes in the rented book, as long as you do so within reasonable limits - excessive marking may result in the return being rejected.

Great reputation

Knetbooks has an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 on a third-party review site, based on over 5,600 reviews. Positive feedback emphasizes the ease of use, fair pricing, and effective service provided by Knetbooks. Where there were complaints, Knetbooks has responded by acknowledging the problem, offering proactive resolutions, and taking steps to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

Great for students who need to save

Knetbooks keeps things simple: rentals are their bread and butter, and they won't charge you extra dough for shipping, ever. We love that they also offer occasional coupon codes and discounts on bulk orders, and we're happy to see so many positive reviews. For these reasons, we give them our highest rating and our #1 recommendation for getting college textbooks.

eCampus Review 4.5 Star Rating

eCampus

4.5 Star Rating
  • Established in 1999
  • Trusted by educational institutions
  • Offers a Price Match Guarantee
  • Competitive rental rates
  • Platform offers a Marketplace for third-party sellers
  • Free shipping on orders over $35
  • Rewards program
  • "A+" rating from the Better Business Bureau
  • Strong reputation and positive customer reviews

eCampus, launched in 1999 during the dot-com bubble, revolutionized the online textbook industry by offering new, used, and electronic textbooks for sale, rental, or buyback. Headquartered in Lexington, Kentucky, eCampus doesn't just serve individuals; it partners with educational institutions across the U.S., providing official bookstore services. It enjoys significant accolades including being named the "Best Website for Buying College Textbooks" two years in a row by About. Driven by a leadership team with deep roots in educational publishing, eCampus remains steadfast in its student-first approach, continually adapting to better meet their needs.

Price Match Guarantee against two top competitors

We love that eCampus has a Price Match Guarantee. A lot of used and rental textbook companies promise the best prices out there, but few of them put their money where their mouth is. There are a couple of catches, though: they'll only price match against two of their competitors (named in the Price Match Guarantee info page) and it must be in the same condition and format.

Rental prices similar to competitors

Rental prices on eCampus vary widely. We saw titles as low as $4.59 and as high as $184. The title we've checked against every site in this review rents Short Term for $28.74 and is available for purchase (used condition) for $63.84, which is pretty much on par with competitor prices. You can also rent titles from eCampus for the length of a semester or a quarter, with corresponding prices.

Best College Textbook Stores

Lower prices from Marketplace sellers

Keep an eye out for textbooks with Marketplace listings - if there is one, it'll appear right below the other rental and purchase prices. Often, that's where you'll find the best deal on eCampus. What is the Marketplace? It's a venue on eCampus through which third-party sellers, both individuals and volume dealers, can list their items. When you make a Marketplace purchase, eCampus handles the payment, making sure that your banking details are kept private and never shared with the sellers. After placing an order, these Marketplace sellers have a 2-day window to dispatch your textbook. However, it's important to note that they only ship within the continental U.S. Also, while browsing, be sure to check the seller's comments, as the item might differ slightly from eCampus' description.

Free shipping on orders over $35

eCampus offers free shipping on orders over $35. However, be aware that this doesn't apply to any eTextbooks in your order - you'd need to reach that $35 minimum with physical textbooks. We don't think this is a big deal, though: 6-10 Day Standard Shipping is only $4 (plus $0.99 per item). If you need your textbook in 3-5 days, it's $6 plus $3.25 per item.

Returns subject to 15% restocking fee

Books bought from eCampus can be returned within 25 days of shipping, though short-term rentals have a 15-day return window. To initiate a return, log into "My Account" and follow the "Manage My Rentals/Returns" process. Be mindful that returns come with shipping charges and a 15% restocking fee deducted from the refund. eBooks and access codes can't be refunded. Items must be in their original condition; for instance, items with broken shrink-wrap or opened digital media won't be accepted.

Best College Textbook Stores

Lots of ways to earn rewards points

The eWards program by eCampus offers a rewarding way to save on textbooks. By signing up with an email address, members can easily start accumulating points through various actions: making purchases, referring friends, engaging with eCampus on social media, and more. These points can then be redeemed for exclusive discounts on future orders. For instance, 175 points can snag you a $5 discount on orders over $30. The more points you gather, the bigger the discounts, reaching up to $20 off on orders exceeding $120. From signing up to tweeting a product, there's a myriad of ways to earn and save.

Find out how much your old textbooks are worth

Selling your books back to eCampus? Super easy. Just punch in the book's ISBN on their "Sell Textbooks" page to see what they'll pay. To determine the price they're willing to offer, you simply enter the book's ISBN on their "Sell Textbooks" page. When you accept their offer, you'll create a Buyback order and can choose from three payment methods: check (with a $2.00 fee), direct deposit, or in-store credit. eCampus provides a prepaid UPS shipping label, so shipping is free. Remember to send your books within 7 days of the Buyback order to lock in the quoted price. Always include a copy of your Buyback Confirmation in the package. Prices may change based on book demand, and eCampus holds the right to cancel any buyback order before payment is made.

Buyback can be hit-or-miss

Before selling your books to eCampus, you might want to double-check their quality requirements. Your book must be in "Good Condition" which they define as being free of many notes or highlights, water stains, missing pages, or a busted spine. However, one customer's buyback order got canceled because of a small fold on the cover. They were told it didn't match eCampus' "quality standards", even though that specific flaw wasn't listed under their Good Condition criteria. If the same thing happens to you, you can ask for your book back (it won't be destroyed like one of the companies in our review does), but there's a $12 shipping fee. Worth keeping an eye out for these details before you send in your treasured tomes.

Best College Textbook Stores

Great reputation

eCampus has an "A+" rating from the Better Business Bureau and a 3.9-star average on Trustpilot across more than 2,500 reviews. Customers say they found what they were looking for at great prices, that their orders had tracking info, arrived on time, and that any hiccups were resolved by customer service in a positive and prompt manner.

One of our top choices

Overall, we're impressed with eCampus and we'd say this is one of the few services that has sufficiently substantiated its claim to be number one in its industry. With their Price Match Guarantee, competitive rental prices, and the Marketplace feature, eCampus makes it easy for students to save on their textbooks. They also provide free shipping on orders over $35 and have a rewards program called eWards, where students can earn points for future discounts. With a strong reputation and positive customer reviews, eCampus is a reliable and customer-centric service that is worth considering for all your textbook needs.

Valore Books Review 4.5 Star Rating

Valore Books

4.5 Star Rating
  • Established in 2002
  • Marketplace model encourages competitive pricing
  • 20,000 sellers
  • Competitive buyback prices and free shipping for sellers
  • Price-matching on rentals and flexible rental term structure
  • "A+" grade from the Better Business Bureau
  • Positive customer reviews for fast deliveries and low prices

Valore Books stakes its claim as a dedicated online marketplace catering specifically to students. One of the first of its kind, established in 2002, Valore Books hosts over 20,000 sellers and remains a trusted name in the realm of academic resources. The platform entices sellers with a straightforward listing process and zero upfront fees, only taking a cut when a book actually sells.

Don't always have every edition

During our review, we used two textbooks as test cases to assess the available inventory. Unfortunately, Valore Books didn't stock either of the editions we were looking for, which were required readings for a recent semester at a particular college. This could suggest potential difficulties in sourcing high-demand titles. However, your mileage may vary.

You could save $500 a year

Valore Books prides itself on its ability to access millions of inexpensive college textbooks from their thousands of sellers. They ambitiously claim an average annual saving of $500 for college students (although it should be noted this is when compared to buying your textbooks new, not from competitor services).

Marketplace model

Unlike other textbook buyback and resale sites, Valore Books doesn't own the inventory it sells. Rather, it acts as a bridge, connecting buyers to sellers. By showcasing numerous sellers vying for your purchase, they maintain competitive prices, leaving the decision-making power in the hands of the buyer regarding price and book condition.

Best College Textbook Stores

Returns processed by sellers

One slight downside to this marketplace model is that experiences with returns may not be consistent, given they are processed by the individual sellers, not Valore Books itself. Before initiating a return with Valore Books, you must contact the seller. If they don't respond within 48 hours, you can reach out to Valore. You'll have 30 days to initiate a return and you should expect to pay your own shipping costs. For discretionary returns (change of mind or accidental purchase), seller approval is required. Sellers are, however, required to accept returns if the item's condition doesn't match its listing, it got damaged in transit, or the wrong item was received compared with the ISBN on the order. A 15% restocking fee might apply for discretionary returns. So, for a $50 item, expect a $42.50 refund.

Selling made easy (and profitable)

For those looking to declutter their bookshelves and make a few bucks, Valore Books is one of the better buyback sites. Sellers benefit from competitive buyback prices, free shipping, and a range of accepted titles. Payments are swift, with options for checks or PayPal. They will also let you list other kinds of books, like novels. If it's on your bookshelf, chances are you can sell it via Valore Books.

Price-matching on rentals

If you're not looking for a long-term commitment with your textbooks, renting might be the way to go. Valore Books promises economical rental rates, with the added benefit of free return shipping. Their marketplace model constantly compares rental rates to make sure students get the best deals available. Plus, with a flexible rental term structure, students can select the rental period that suits them best. If you spot a better rental price elsewhere within a week, they guarantee a refund of the difference.

Best College Textbook Stores

$3.95 shipping

Although shipping is free for rental returns and sellers, it isn't free when you're ordering from Valore. Standard shipping takes between 4-14 business days and is priced at $3.95. Expedited shipping is $6.95 and will usually arrive in 3-5 business days.

"A+" with the BBB

Valore Books enjoys an "A+" grade from the Better Business Bureau, having been accredited by them since 2021. Customer reviews are overwhelmingly positive - reviewers report fast deliveries, low prices, and used textbooks in like-new condition. Where there were complaints, Valore's customer service representatives followed up.

A top choice

Valore Books is one of our favorite services in this review. We love their price match guarantee on rentals, and we like that their marketplace model encourages sellers to price their textbooks competitively. That "A+" from the BBB doesn't hurt, either. If you need affordable college textbooks this upcoming semester, make sure you stop by Valore Books to see if they have what you need.

Textbooks Review 4 Star Rating

Textbooks

4 Star Rating
  • 10 million books in stock
  • Up to 90% off retail prices
  • Free shipping on orders over $25
  • Guaranteed Cash Back feature in place of renting
  • High inspection standards for used textbooks
  • Buyback quotes locked in for 30 days
  • Positive customer feedback
  • Supplemental materials included in order when in title
  • Good customer support
  • Sincerity and understanding of students' needs

If there's one thing that rings true about Textbooks, it's sincerity. In business since 2006, it's a platform crafted by a community who understands the trials and tribulations of juggling academic responsibilities: students, parents, readers, and tech enthusiasts. This collective understanding makes Textbooks stand out.

Pricing and savings

With up to 90% off on textbook prices and free shipping on orders over $25, Textbooks appears to be a haven for budget-conscious students. They stock over 10 million books, leaving buyers spoiled for choice. Their "A+" BBB rating attests to their credibility.

Guaranteed Cash Back

The "Guaranteed Cash Back" feature promises 50% cashback if you sell your textbook back in good condition at the end of the semester. Essentially, you're renting a book at half its price, although there is no official option to rent.

High inspection standards

Every used textbook undergoes meticulous inspection to ensure it's free from excessive wear and tear. From ruling out water damage to broken spines, Textbooks' standards are commendably high. Even for used textbooks, the worst you can expect are a few highlighter streaks, faded covers, or dog-eared pages.

Best College Textbook Stores

Buyback quotes are locked in for 30 days

Selling your used textbooks is a breeze. Just enter the ISBN, get a quote, and they'll even cover your shipping costs. Plus, their quotes have a 30-day validity, much longer than many competitors (who give you only 7 days).

Positive customer feedback

Textbooks' commitment to satisfaction and sincerity shines through in numerous reviews. From prompt deliveries to appreciation for their buy-back feature, the praises are aplenty.

Areas of improvement

There are a few areas of improvement, though. Textbooks' search engine could use some tweaks. Even after typing in several versions of the title we were looking for, we couldn't find the correct edition. Other editions were selling for around $50 to $60 a copy, but on competitor sites, they were available for under $30.

Discount categories

The website does offer categories that allow you to browse textbooks available at discounts of up to 70% off retail price. However, this may not be helpful for someone who needs a specific textbook assigned by their professor. We can imagine these discount categories might be a good place for a budget-conscious homeschool parent to find educational material for their children, though.

Best College Textbook Stores

Supplemental materials included when indicated

We do like that if the listing's title includes supplemental materials (CDs, codes) you can actually expect those things to come with your order - which isn't true for some competitors, and can lead less discerning buyers to feel scammed.

eTextbook woes

eTextbooks seem to be Textbooks' Achilles' heel. The most common complaint we found was about long delivery wait times after buying eTextbooks. One user said they spent $50 and the purchase was stuck processing for days. Another paid $30 for an eTextbook they needed immediately for quizzes, but didn't receive an access link for several hours. Another complaint was about not being clearly informed that their eTextbook access was only for 30 days, which caused problems for midterm study after that period.

Good customer support

However, it's heartening to see prompt and attentive responses from customer support to these complaints. Every negative review we found had a reply from a representative offering to resolve the issue. That's more than we can say for some other services in our review.

Best College Textbook Stores

Buy direct or through Marketplace

The Marketplace on Textbooks serves as a hub where independent sellers, authorized and vetted by Textbooks, can offer their books for sale. While these sellers operate within the platform, they manage their own order processing and returns. All marketplace sellers undergo a thorough vetting process to make sure they meet Textbooks' high standards of quality and reliability. However, for optimal service and speedier deliveries, it's advised that customers purchase directly from Textbooks.

30 days for returns

Regarding returns, if you've purchased directly from Textbooks, you have 30 days from the purchase date to send back your items. Do note that refunds can take up to two weeks, shipping fees aren't reimbursed, and the returned book should be in the same condition as received. If you've made your purchase from the Marketplace, it's crucial to send your returns directly to the individual seller, as mentioned in the packing slip, within the same 30-day window. For eTextbooks, returns are only possible before activation, and if unactivated, they must be returned within 30 days from the purchase date.

One of our favorites

Textbooks emerges as a platform genuinely dedicated to serving its community. Their vast collection, pocket-friendly prices, and guaranteed cashback options make them an attractive choice. While there are areas they can improve, their commitment to customer service is evident. In an age where every dollar counts for students, Textbooks, with their blend of value and sincerity, is a worthwhile option. Just keep in mind to double-check eTextbook terms and be clear about where you're sending your returns, and you're good to go.

Chegg Review 4 Star Rating

Chegg

4 Star Rating
  • Easy search for textbooks by title, author, or ISBN
  • Rent physical or digital textbooks starting at $4.99
  • Generous return policy for physical and digital textbooks
  • Access to step-by-step solutions for thousands of textbooks with additional subscription
  • Highlighting permitted in rental books
  • Free shipping on orders over $35
  • Quality of Book Guarantee
  • Buyback program and discounts

Chegg is a well-known education technology company that has been helping students since 2005. If you've ever googled the answers to your homework questions, you've probably visited their website before. Chegg started as a textbook rental service and has now grown into a comprehensive educational platform offering various services like online tutoring, study aids, scholarship searches, and internship matching. With over 15 years of experience, Chegg has become a trusted resource for students worldwide, constantly adapting to meet the changing needs of today's learners.

Search by title, author, or ISBN

To find the textbook you're after on Chegg, simply go to the search bar and enter the title, author, or ISBN, and you'll be brought to a list of results with the closest match appearing first. From here you can click on the "Rent/buy book" button, where you'll find pricing.

Get access to homework help with monthly subscription

You might also have noticed when search results include something called Solutions. These are part of the Chegg Study Pack subscription, priced at $19.95 per month. We know that most students don't have much extra cash on hand, but if you manage to save a significant amount on a textbook with Chegg, you might consider reinvesting those savings into furthering your education. With this subscription, you'll have access to step-by-step solutions for thousands of textbooks, helping you to understand every topic thoroughly. Need more personalized help? Check out the Expert Q&A Archive, which houses 90 million explained homework questions. You can post up to 20 of your own questions every month and get answers from experts, often in as quick as 30 minutes.

Best College Textbook Stores

Rent physical or digital textbooks for under $15

A used Western Civilizations textbook that retails new for $58 was available for rental for only $12.49 with Chegg. Some textbooks will only be available for either renting or purchasing, but not both. Some books can also be viewed online as eTextbooks, which are available for purchase or rent starting at $4.99 for renting. Pricing will vary based on the specific book you're looking at. Orders over $35 are eligible for free shipping.

21 days to decide on physical textbooks

Chegg lets you send back your physical textbooks for any reason within 21 days - super handy if you drop a class or order the wrong book. Just send it back how you got it, and you'll get your money back, but they might keep what you paid for shipping. Don't worry about return shipping; Chegg's got it covered. Just make sure to ship the textbook back within 21 days from when you ordered, which you can check in your confirmation email or on your account.

10 days for digital textbook returns

Got a digital textbook you don't want? No stress. You can get a full refund within 10 days if you change your mind or don't need it anymore. Just head to your account to sort it out. But remember, after 10 days, no returns, and if you've returned it once, you can't do it again.

Best College Textbook Stores

Highlighting permitted in rental books

One of the things that stands out about Chegg's rental service is their understanding towards students' study habits. They allow limited highlighting in their rented textbooks. This is pretty generous of them. Think about it: how often do you come across a service that lets you borrow something and then make minor changes to it? We don't recommend you test this out at your local library, unless you want to see what an angry librarian looks like. Highlighting helps many students grasp and retain information, so it's a gesture that acknowledges the needs of students while trusting them to keep the book in good shape for others. Just be sure not to write in the textbooks - save your notes for your personal notebook.

Quality of Book Guarantee gives you peace of mind

Everyone likes quality, especially when it comes to textbooks - no one wants to be told to turn to page 394 only to discover the previous owner tore it out. Chegg's Quality of Book Guarantee means that if you're not 100% happy with the condition of your book, they'll send you another copy, no fuss, and on their dime.

Earn with their buyback program

When it's time to move onto a new semester, Chegg's buyback program comes into the spotlight. Collaborating with third-party partners, Chegg offers a platform where you can potentially sell back your textbooks. That's an eco-friendly and wallet-friendly way to keep your dorm room clutter-free. And speaking of savings, Chegg occasionally offers coupon codes at checkout, so keep an eye out.

Best College Textbook Stores

User data compromised in the past

Chegg has a "B+" rating from the Better Business Bureau, but there was an alert on their page notifying customers of a data breach. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has taken action against education tech company Chegg Inc. for not protecting user and employee data properly. Chegg didn't keep personal information safe, even storing some in plain text and using weak encryption methods. This led to four major data breaches affecting around 40 million people, exposing emails, personal details, and even sensitive data about scholarships and Chegg employees' financial and medical information. The FTC now requires Chegg to enhance its security measures, limit the data it collects, provide better account security for users, and let users access or delete their data. This should not be a problem for new users to the website.

A great option

All in all, Chegg stands out as a top choice for college textbook rentals due to its competitive prices. But what really sets them apart are the additional services they offer beyond just renting books. It's definitely worth exploring their tutoring, test prep, scholarship, and internship opportunities alongside their vast textbook collection.

TextbookX Review 3.5 Star Rating

TextbookX

3.5 Star Rating
  • Operational since 2001
  • Affiliated with over 500 educational institutions
  • Provides a platform for independent sellers
  • Average rental prices
  • Free shipping on retail orders over $49
  • "A+" rating from the Better Business Bureau
  • Year-round buyback opportunities
  • Wide range of academic materials
  • Positive customer reviews and ratings

In business for over 20 years, TextbookX's mission is to offer students the lowest prices for their course materials by combining their own inventory with that of third-party sellers. With one of the largest inventories of new, used, digital, and rental books, TextbookX provides lots of options to students.

More than just textbooks

TextbookX offers more than just textbooks. They also list school supplies, best-selling books, magazines, study guides, and more.

Benefits of school-partnered online bookstores

TextbookX partners with colleges, and they offer custom websites for partnered schools. When you buy through your school, you'll benefit from a dedicated inventory tailored to your courses. Students can search for textbooks by course name, code, instructor, or ISBN. The platform also offers school-branded merchandise and multiple payment options, including financial aid where applicable. Note that availability of the textbooks you need isn't guaranteed - it's based on stock and demand, so plan to purchase as soon as you get your required reading list.

Best College Textbook Stores

Benefits of buying from TextbookX directly

Students can benefit from average savings of 60% off the list price when purchasing from the Marketplace. The platform allows users to search for books by ISBN, title, author, or keyword, and offers year-round buyback opportunities. You can also get free economy shipping on retail orders over $49 - note that this is almost double the minimum amount to qualify for free shipping with some competitors.

Standard search functions

TextbookX offers standard search functions and provides detailed listings that show all available copies of books along with their corresponding prices. Additionally, the platform includes notes from sellers that provide information about any damage, inclusion of access codes, and shipping or satisfaction policies. Make sure you pay attention to these - some sellers do not accept returns.

Marketplace textbooks don't qualify for free shipping

Through TextbookX's Marketplace, you can shop from sellers nationwide and choose from books available in their warehouse as well as from trusted third-party sellers. The sellers range from big volume sellers to individual students, and you can generally tell what kind of seller you're buying from based on the listing where there is a section for notes indicating their return policies and the book's condition. However, please note that free shipping offers do not apply to items purchased from the Marketplace, although some sellers might cut you a deal.

Best College Textbook Stores

Shipping is a few dollars more than competitors

For orders below $49, the shipping cost is $4.89 plus $2 per book. The estimated delivery time is 3-10 business days. Standard Ground shipping takes 2-5 days and costs $8.49 plus $2.99 per book. For marketplace and rental orders, Economy shipping costs $6.89 per item, with an estimated delivery time of 3-10 business days. Standard Shipping is $11.49 per item, with an estimated delivery time of 2-5 days.

New rental program

As a response to customer feedback, TextbookX recently introduced a rental program, which further reduces prices for students. The rental books are always in at least "good" condition and are never international or reprint editions. However, it's important to note that supplemental materials are not included with the rental, unless otherwise indicated. Students are required to return the rental books at the end of the term - they don't seem to have options for shorter or longer term rentals.

If you're late to return your rental, you buy it

Students have the flexibility to purchase a rented book at any time during the rental period. Late returns result in a charge of the book's buyout price - less the amount you paid to rent it, but still, TextbookX is not playing around with these fees. Their grace period only covers the time it would reasonably take for your return to be sent out and delivered.

Best College Textbook Stores

10% restocking fee and no returns on Pearson eBooks

The return policies for TextbookX can be summarized as follows: for items to be eligible for a full refund, they must be returned in their original condition, unmarked if sold as "new," and with intact software media. Refunds are subject to a 10% restocking fee, and marketplace returns are subject to the policies of individual sellers. eBook refunds are possible under certain circumstances, such as within two weeks of purchase and with limited viewing or printing of the content. eBooks from Pearson can't be refunded at all, nor can rental returns.

Trusted by customers

We're glad to see that TextbookX has an "A+" Better Business Bureau rating and a 4.3-star average on Trustpilot. Customer reviews for TextbookX have been generally positive. Students have praised the platform for its international shipping services and customer support. Many have found their textbook prices to be competitive compared to an online retail giant, also included in our review. The efficient book listing system for registered courses has been appreciated, along with reliable and timely delivery. Students also value the ability to sell their books back to TextbookX. While some reviewers experienced occasional issues with delivery delays, there have been reports of positive experiences with customer service to resolve these issues.

Not a bad choice

Overall, we would recommend TextbookX for your college textbook needs. While we do wish their rental return policy was a little less strict (college students can be messy, and it could be easy to misplace a textbook in a cluttered dorm), we didn't find any major faults with them. We like that they make it so easy for students to find the books they need by partnering with colleges, and their BBB rating is encouraging. While not an outstanding service, they do pretty well.

Amazon Review 3 Star Rating

Amazon

3 Star Rating
  • Vast inventory of textbooks
  • Exclusive deals and promotions on textbooks with Prime Student
  • All copies of a textbook found under the same listing
  • Free shipping with Amazon Prime Student membership, quick delivery
  • Convenient platform for selling old textbooks
  • 30 days for returns

Amazon, known to many as the go-to online marketplace for a dizzying array of products, actually got its start as a humble book retailer. Before it became the behemoth it is today, it was a place where book lovers could find their next great read. Its expansion is credited to its quick delivery, vast inventory, low pricing, and the ability to share experiences with products. You can purchase and sell your own used textbooks here, although they no longer support the ability to rent physical textbooks.

Navigating Amazon's selection is difficult

We're not really into Amazon's search function for textbooks. You can begin by browsing their New and Used Textbooks category, but you can't search within it, and let's be real: no one is browsing textbooks for kicks. You're going to be after a specific title and edition. So, wandering around in the Science & Math category of New and Used Textbooks, hoping to magically stumble across the one you need? Not super efficient. To search for a specific book, you have to use the general search bar at the top, which can't be narrowed down any further than Amazon's broad "Books" category.

Potential Savings with Amazon

Price-wise, Amazon can be a mixed bag. Sometimes, you'll stumble upon incredible deals on used books, with prices that brick-and-mortar stores can't match. Other times, new editions might be priced close to the publisher's rate. But with the possibility of buying used, or even scoring a deal during one of their frequent promotions, there's potential for real savings. Combine that with Amazon Prime Student discounts, and you've got yourself a recipe for some budget-friendly textbook shopping. Amazon itself advertises savings of up to 90% on used textbooks, up to 49% on new ones, and discounts of up to 60% off the print list price.

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No more physical textbook rentals

A notable change in 2023 saw Amazon putting an end to their print textbook rental services. However, you can still rent their eTextbooks. The move towards digital makes sense given the convenience and flexibility eTextbooks offer. Here's how it works: if you're looking to rent an eTextbook, simply navigate to the Kindle eTextbooks section on Amazon. Pop in the ISBN, title, or author into the search bar to find what you're after. If the eTextbook is up for grabs as a rental, a rental price tag will be visible right there. Once you've found your eTextbook, click the "Rent" button, followed by "Rent now with 1-Click" , and voila! You've got your digital textbook ready to guide you through the semester.

All copies under the same listing

Found the textbook you were looking for? Make sure to click on the blue text labeled "[quantity] used & new offers" under "More Buying Choices" to see the lowest price available. This is something Amazon does well: all of the available copies of that textbook on Amazon, whatever the condition, will show up under the same listing. No need to try alternate spellings of the title to bring up other results.

Maximize benefits with Amazon Prime Student

If you're looking for free shipping on your textbooks, Amazon Prime could be your best friend, especially since students get a deal on this membership. Head to the Prime Student page and sign up for your first 6 months for free. Once your trial runs its course, you can continue enjoying Prime Student for only $7.49 monthly. Beyond the obvious free shipping perk, Prime offers exclusive deals and promotions on textbooks - including discounts of up to 90%. So, not only do you save on shipping, but you might just get your books for a steal too.

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Cash in on old textbooks

Got old textbooks gathering dust? Amazon can help you turn them into cash. Selling your textbooks on Amazon is pretty straightforward. Simply list your used books on their marketplace, describe their condition accurately, and set a competitive price. With millions of users visiting Amazon daily, your books will be showcased to a wide audience, increasing the chances of a quick sale. Plus, Amazon provides shipping labels and even offers trade-in options for select books. So whether you're decluttering or just looking to recoup some of your expenses, Amazon's platform can be a convenient way to get value out of your old textbooks.

Returns generally possible for 30 days

Bought a textbook, then dropped the class? Don't sweat it. Items shipped directly from Amazon can generally be returned within 30 days of delivery. However, there are some exceptions, and you'll want to check out the list of "Items that Can't be Returned" to be sure. Also, while most of the products fall under the 30-day window, some specific product types might have extended return timelines; you'd need to check the product type's listed details for that. Bought a used textbook from a third-party seller on Amazon? Most of them align their return policies with Amazon's, especially if their listing is Prime-eligible.

Doesn't specialize in textbooks, but does a good job

Amazon wears a lot of hats, and for the most part they seem to have their College Textbook Retailer Hat on straight. While they could probably stand to improve their search function, they're still a solid choice thanks to their large inventory, fast shipping, and discounted Prime membership for students.

BiggerBooks Review 2.5 Star Rating

BiggerBooks

2.5 Star Rating
  • In business since 2001
  • Daily coupon codes
  • Textbook rentals for different periods (Semester, Quarter, Short Term)
  • Buyback program
  • Free shipping for orders over $59
  • Refunds available for 25 days after purchase

Around since 2001, BiggerBooks claims to have the "largest used book inventory" and that their "bigger selection of used books equals bigger savings." They try to differentiate themselves from competitors with their Daily Deal feature, which makes a new coupon code available to customers every day of the week.

Physical textbook rentals aren't going anywhere

While one notable competitor recently rolled back their textbook rentals, BiggerBooks is standing by this business model. Search for your textbook by title, author, or ISBN and you'll be taken to the list of results of titles available for rent or purchase. On each listing's page, you'll find their prices for each rental period: you have the option to rent by Semester, Quarter, and Short Term. Next to each option, you'll see the date the textbook would be due if you were to rent it today.

Prices aren't as low as they say

We found even the rental prices to be a little on the expensive side, though. The Short Term rental (roughly 2 months) on a particular textbook would cost $29.60. When we checked a competitor site, we found several used copies of this book available for purchase for a few dollars less. Forget renting - if you want to buy the textbook used from BiggerBooks? That'll be $63.20. Given that that's about 3 times the purchase price we found elsewhere, BiggerBooks' 7% Tuesday discount isn't enough to make their prices competitive.

Best College Textbook Stores

Buyback program has strict terms

Ready to cash in on your textbooks? BiggerBooks offers a straightforward Buyback program to help you turn those old books into some extra cash. Simply enter the ISBNs of the books you want to sell, and you'll get a quote that is valid for 7 days. But here's the catch: if your textbooks don't meet their standards, they won't be returned; they'll be destroyed. So, before you send them off, make absolutely sure they meet BiggerBook's condition guidelines to avoid missing out on payment and the chance to resell elsewhere with less stringent standards.

Returns subject to shipping and restocking fees

Your order will qualify for free shipping if it's over $59. Otherwise, for 6-10 day Standard Shipping, you'll have to pay $4 plus $0.99 for each item included in the order. Orders are eligible for refund up to 25 days after purchase; however, you'll have to pay shipping and a 10% restocking fee (ouch!).

Supplemental materials not included

Make sure you don't need an access code for your textbook. Gone are the days when all you needed was the book itself - publishing companies have gotten wise to students renting and reselling textbooks to save money, and now you often can't access your course material without a one-time code that you can only get with a new textbook. BiggerBooks is no different from other used textbook companies in that they can't guarantee your textbook will come with that access code or any other supplemental materials (like CDs).

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Unhappy customers

We found multiple 1- and 2-star reviews from customers who say BiggerBooks sold them textbooks they didn't actually have on hand. Customers were charged and not refunded or notified of the mistake until they reached out to inquire about why their orders had not yet arrived.

Look somewhere else

BiggerBooks talks a big game about their affordability (even promising savings up to 91% on list prices), but we didn't find these claims to be substantiated in our own test case. You might still luck out and find the specific used textbook you need at its lowest price here, but that could be said for virtually any of the websites in our review. With high rental fees, less-than-generous return and buyback policies, and poor order fulfillment, we're forced to give BiggerBooks a below-average ranking.

eFollett Review 2 Star Rating

eFollett

2 Star Rating
  • Offers textbooks (new and used), digital learning materials, college apparel, and school supplies
  • Curates book listings based on specific institution's courses
  • Consistent pricing with physical campus stores
  • Offers shipping options and free delivery to some campus stores
  • Allows highlighting and note-taking in rented textbooks

eFollett, often simply referred to as Follett, is a company that provides educational products, services, and technology solutions to educational institutions ranging from K-12 schools to colleges and universities. The company operates a vast number of physical and online campus stores across the U.S. These stores offer textbooks (both new and used), digital learning materials, college apparel, school supplies, and more. Over the years, Follett has expanded its offerings to include digital solutions and technology platforms designed to facilitate learning, library management, and course material accessibility.

School-specific redirects

eFollett is distinct from many other used textbook services in that it serves as a gateway to individual college and university bookstore sites rather than offering a centralized online shopping experience. When you visit eFollett, you're prompted to select your specific institution. (They partner with 1,000+ universities, but if you attend a community college or otherwise small school, this number might not include you.) Once you do, you're redirected to your own school's bookstore site, ensuring that you're viewing materials tailored to your school's courses and curricula. On their website, they state, "Bottom line: we guarantee that you have the right course materials."

Limited browsing

Unlike other services where you can freely browse textbooks, eFollett's structure means you're primarily viewing books that are relevant to your specific institution's courses. This can be both an advantage, as it curates your choices, and a limitation, as it doesn't allow for broader exploration. However, it did make it nearly impossible to compare their prices to similar websites, whether for rentals or purchasing used textbooks.

Consistent book listings

The advantage of their system is that you're more likely to find books that are specifically required by your professors, reducing the risk of purchasing incorrect editions or titles. This is easily done with Follett's tagging system. Because they communicate directly with your university, they are able to mark your textbooks as required, recommended, or suggested based on your instructor's preferences. Their Customer Support Center page promises finding what you need will be easy, thanks to their inventory being browsable by course.

Best College Textbook Stores

Price consistency with campus store

The prices on eFollett-powered sites tend to mirror those of the physical campus store. While there might be occasional online discounts, don't expect the deep discounts sometimes found on other online used textbook platforms.

Pick up your books from your campus store

eFollett offers a range of shipping options for students. Standard shipping typically arrives in 4-7 days, the "Faster" option in 3-4 days, and the "Fastest" in 2-3 days. For those looking to save on shipping costs, there's a "Store Pickup" option which allows for free delivery to some campus stores. Regarding costs, standard shipping is priced up to $6.99, the "Faster" option up to $13.99, and "Fastest" up to $19.99.

Highlighting in rented textbooks is allowed

Renting textbooks through eFollett is a cost-effective option for students, often costing less than half the price of buying new textbooks. The process is simple: students choose their course, select rental items, and finalize the rental by providing collateral, usually a credit card. While you can highlight and take notes in the rented textbooks, excessive markings may result in fees. You can return rentals either in-store or via shipping, but the shipping cost is your responsibility. If you miss the return deadline, you will be charged additional fees, and if you return the book too late, you will be charged the full price of the book. You can convert rentals to purchases or return them if you drop the course within the return period set by your university.

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Terrible customer service

Although eFollett has an "A+" grade from the Better Business Bureau, they don't have many positive reviews elsewhere. We found dozens of reports of packages that arrived with missing books, textbooks that hadn't been wrapped in plastic and were ruined by rain, and even orders that were "shipped" but never arrived. Many of these customers say they never received replies to emails or phone calls asking to be refunded the hundreds of dollars they had spent on their course materials. Those who were able to make contact with customer service characterize them as rude and unhelpful.

Access Program seems like a scam

If you're a college student, you may already be familiar with Follett through their Access Program, which touts benefits like "exclusive, lower than market prices" . Students don't get an initial choice to subscribe but are automatically charged, with the option to opt out available only later. A Reddit user shared their experience with this program, noting that their school automatically enrolled them, catching them off-guard. They wrote, "I just got an email saying that a charge had been added to my balance because one of my classes uses this program. My bill doesn't even specify which class or textbook the charge pertains to, yet I've been charged $110." The user warned about the potential pitfall of forgetting to opt out amidst the hustle of a new semester, emphasizing that the promise of savings on used textbooks becomes irrelevant if you're faced with a $110 charge for a service you didn't actively choose. We felt this information was relevant because it highlights eFollett's disregard for student welfare, demonstrating a readiness to capitalize on an already financially vulnerable population.

Look elsewhere

eFollett isn't the same kind of service as the others in our review because it seems mostly to be an extension of a campus bookstore (and indeed it partners with them). It's hard to say whether their promises of savings are accurate due to their course-specific browsing settings, but that becomes moot when you look at their terrible track record for customer satisfaction. Sure, you might find a rental for a few bucks cheaper than on a competitor site, but those savings go down the drain if they lose your order, blame it on you, and refuse to refund you. We don't recommend you use eFollett if your school gives you other options; look at the higher-ranking college textbook platforms on our list instead.

Pearson Review 1 Star Rating

Pearson

1 Star Rating
  • Access to 1,800+ eTextbooks and study materials for $10.99/month
  • Includes flashcards, audio, and study tools
  • Additional Channels feature offers curated study videos, quizzes, and summaries for $7.99/month

Pearson is a leading global publishing and education giant, long-recognized for its extensive collection of educational textbooks, resources, and digital learning platforms. However, while its influence in the education sector is undeniable, it hasn't been without its fair share of criticisms.

Response to the criticism

Many have voiced concerns over Pearson's near-monopoly status in the industry, accusing it of leveraging its dominant position to impose high prices and exploit students financially. Perhaps in response to some of this criticism, Pearson introduced Pearson+, a subscription service dubbed the "Netflix for textbooks". With Pearson+, the company attempts to reposition itself in the digital age, offering students access to nearly 2,000 eTextbooks and study materials for a monthly fee.

1,800 textbooks to choose from

For $10.99 a month (with a 4-month term), the eTextbook model gives subscribers access to their selection of 1,800+ eTextbooks. This subscription also boasts flashcards, audio, and other study tools. At face value, this seems like a deal, especially if you consider the cost of traditional textbooks.

No textbooks from other publishers

Something to keep in mind is that the catalog of 1,800+ only includes textbooks published by Pearson. This means that if your coursework requires textbooks from various publishers, Pearson+ might not meet all your needs. You could end up subscribing and still have to spend additional resources on books from other publishers.

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Study videos for $7.99

For an additional $7.99/mo, Channels offers thousands of curated study videos, practice quizzes, and AI-powered summaries. It sounds like a comprehensive study tool for the modern student, and the potential for this tool is vast, especially for visual learners.

Logs you out while reading

Unfortunately, not all that glitters is gold. One user from UBC voiced their regret after opting for a Pearson eTextbook, finding the platform "extremely frustrating and unintuitive." The book's navigation was clunky, and, even worse, the system frequently logged them out. Adding to their woes was Pearson's penchant for weekend site maintenance, rendering their "book" inaccessible just before an exam. Although this particular customer complaint was logged almost 6 years prior to the time of this review, our own experience with Pearson's eTextbooks confirms that these technical issues have not been fixed. We suppose there is not much incentive to create a product that works well when customers are cornered into buying it from you.

Not accessible for users with disability

Accessibility features, too, left much to be desired. Another user, living with low vision, criticized Pearson's text-to-speech function, which kept defaulting to the beginning of the book. Despite their efforts to seek help, customer support was "equally unhelpful." A harsh critique, but echoed by others: "I wish this company would vanish off the planet."

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Customer support is terrible

Finally, there are the customer support failures. One user lamented being charged five times for an online textbook, one they never accessed. When they called for support, the experience was draining, the outcome unsatisfactory: no credit, no access to the book, just hours and money lost.

Too good to be true

Pearson+ seems too good to be true. That's because it is. While the allure of accessible digital textbooks at a low price is tempting, the reality, as reported by many users, is a platform riddled with technical glitches, subpar accessibility features, and frustrating customer support. Students looking for consistent and hassle-free access to their study materials have learned the hard way that sometimes, the old-fashioned way - purchasing or renting a physical or used textbook - is best. It's no wonder that Pearson earns our lowest ranking among providers of college textbooks.

Compare the Best Reviews

Continued from above...

Online college textbook stores have revolutionized the way students acquire their academic resources. These platforms offer a convenient, often cheaper, alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar stores. With just a few clicks, students can purchase new or used books, rent textbooks, or even access digital versions.

How much could you save? In some cases, students might spend over $1,000 per semester on required course materials, especially if they are studying in fields that require expensive textbooks or access codes for online resources. It's obvious that every penny counts, so why not take advantage of every possible way to get your textbooks for less money? You could cut that $1,000 in half (or even more) by skipping the school bookstore and opting to source your books online.

When choosing a college textbook retailer, it's important to consider several factors to be sure you get the best deal and the resources you need. Here are some factors to keep in mind:

  • Cost. How much does the textbook cost on this site compared to others? Look for competitive prices. Are there any special deals or discounts? It's always a win to save some money.
  • Selection. Does the website have the textbooks you need? Check if they offer both e-books and physical copies. It's best to have choices to fit your study style.
  • Shipping and return policy. Can they get your textbook to you before classes start? Consider shipping costs and speed. If the textbook isn't what you meant to order, is returning it easy? A good return policy can save you from headaches later on.
  • Access codes. Do you need an online code for your course? Some books come with codes for online materials. If buying used or renting, is the code still valid? Make sure you're getting everything you need.

Top Consumer Reviews has reviewed and ranked the best online stores to buy college textbooks, both secondhand and new. We hope these reviews help you get the books you need for school quickly and without spending too much.

The Best College Textbook Stores Compare College Textbook Stores Compare College Textbook Store Reviews What are the best College Textbook Stores Best College Textbook Store Reviews

College Textbook Store FAQ

You'll probably find a mixture of both. At some schools, you can choose whichever format you prefer (and, according to The New York Times, 50% of students prefer a print textbook!).
You won't be surprised to hear that books can be free, like certain open source online textbooks, but some can cost as much as $1,000 or more! The College Board recommends that students plan on setting aside $1,200 each year for textbooks and course materials.
Your campus bookstore will likely be selling the textbooks at full retail value, or maybe even with a bit of a markup. And, even if they offer used books, you'll be competing with everyone else at your school to get a copy. Shopping online lets you get the exact same books for the best available price.
Absolutely. Most online textbook stores make it easy to determine the condition of any title you need, and you can even get them in new or like-new condition - at a fraction of the price you'd pay for a brand-new text at your college bookstore.
That depends on the textbook store you use and how quickly you need the book. Many providers offer free shipping for economy shipping, with options to upgrade if you want to get it faster.
Yes! Both print and digital textbooks can be rented through many textbook stores. Be sure to read the terms and conditions before choosing the rental option: you'll want to know if you're allowed to mark up the book or save any of your digital notes, when your rental period will end, and any instructions you'll need to follow to return the textbook when the class finishes.
Most textbook stores know that students may buy a textbook they wind up not needing: classes get cancelled or dropped, the wrong edition is ordered, and so on. You typically have a risk-free return period of anywhere from 14-21 days from the purchase date, so you'll need to time your purchase carefully (ordering enough in advance that the title is available, but not so far ahead that you can't return it once the class starts).
Without a doubt. Some textbook stores have been in business for a decade or more, with excellent customer ratings and a strong reputation with the Better Business Bureau. Buying your textbooks online can save you a significant amount of money and hassle!
See the Best College Textbook Store
The Best Reviews of College Textbook Stores