Photo: Flickr/CUNY Academic Commons
Malls and e-commerce sites are packed with deals on back-to-school basics like electronics, but finding ways to shave the soaring costs of textbooks can be tricky.From e-books to online swap meets, there’s absolutely no reason to plop down big money for glossy hardbacks when you could be saving that cash for student loans down the road.
Here’s a quick guide for buying, renting, selling and swapping your text books online and in-store:
Amazon’s Book Rental. Rent e-books as long as you need them (30 days minimum) and save up to 80% off the cover price. The best part about this service is that all your highlights and notes will still be available via their Cloud service even after you’ve returned your book. You can download books to just about any device, including the iPad, Kindle, Macs and PCs.
Rent-A-Text. Created by Follett Higher Education Group, students can save 50 per cent on average by renting their books from Rent-a-Text. Not only can you rent straight from eFollett.com, but the site gives access to rentals from more than 900 college bookstores across the nation. Want to avoid shipping charges? They tell you where to pick books up, too.
Collegebookrenter.com. This site promises savings up to 85% off the cover price of textbooks. It claims to have the largest textbook inventory on the market and also allows you to sell or buy books new. CEO Chuck Jones says they aren’t offering e-books at the moment but don’t charge customers for shipping costs. And if you’re really into highlighting the margins, Jones promises they’re far more lenient in that regard.
Chegg.com.This site has a huge inventory of books for rent and it recently launched an e-book rental service as well. You can download books to your account and access them anytime on the Web. The only drawback is they’re only available as streaming files, so you’ll need an Internet connection to access them and they can’t be downloaded.
Campusbookrentals.com. They give you a 15-day late return grace period and offer three options for rentals: 55 days (summer), 130 days (semester) and 85 days (quarter). Extra perk: They’re cool with highlighting fanatics, too.
Buy & Sell
You can sell back your books on most sites, but Amazon is a great go-to site for anyone new to the game. Campusbooks.com has a great app to find the best buy-back price on your books. Stack up your text books with the ISBN codes all facing the same direction, then snap a photo with your smartphone.
Give Cash4books.net a try if you’re looking for something quick and simple. You can ship your book to them free and they pay by check or via PayPal.
Swoopthat.com. This site is unique in that all you do is punch in the name of the course you’re taking (it stores course information for 2,500 schools) and it’ll track down the books you need. It shoots backs results for used books, new books, ebooks, and rentals.
Swap.com. The go-to site to swap everything from DVDs to expired Groupons, Swap.com is also great for trading textbooks. If you’ve got an older edition you know you won’t get much cash back for, it might be a better idea to try to swap it for another title.
Edubookswap.com. This site is a bit different in that it charges a fee ($8.95) for swapping services. If you sign up for a five-swap plan, that gets knocked down to $7.99 per book. But the cool part is every book you post for sale accrues points toward your account, which can then be applied to a book purchase. The points for each book are based on fair market value of the book, age and demand.
Bookmooch.com. This is a true swap site, in that you trade books even-steven with other users and get points for every book you give away. For each book you give, you can get one back in return and you only pay the cost of shipping. You can also request books from other countries and choose to donate points to charities.
Did we miss any great sites you’ve used before? Feel free to let us know in the comments.
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