Monday, August 23, 2010

Five Best Places to Buy Cheap Textbooks [Hive Five]


Five Best Places to Buy Cheap TextbooksAs if college weren't an expensive enough endeavor, textbook prices tend to range from shocking to outrageous. Save on your textbooks with these five great places to buy cheap textbooks.

Photo by a composite of images by vierdrie and Leonardini.

Earlier this week we asked you to share your favorite place to find cheap textbooks. We compiled the results and now we're back to share the five most popular places Lifehacker readers go to save on books.


Five Best Places to Buy Cheap Textbooks
Chegg offers a nice compromise between buying the overpriced textbooks at your local bookstore and shopping for iffy-quality used books online. At Chegg you don't purchase your books; you rent them for a semester. The Chegg discount, compared to retail prices, is anywhere from 30%-80% off, with most book rentals falling around the 50% mark. You rent them a semester, a quarter, or a 60-day rental window and then ship them back for free with a prepaid UPS label. You won't be able to find books at pennies on the dollar like you can by scrounging for used or out-of-print editions elsewhere, but you do get a 30-day "any reason" return policy and free return shipping.


Five Best Places to Buy Cheap Textbooks
No one should be surprised to find out that Amazon has their hand in the textbook business. The book superstore originally offered textbooks mixed in with the rest of their book offerings, both new and discounted through their third-party marketplace. Now Amazon has a dedicated student/textbook section with enhanced textbook search and student-centric features. They even offer a free Amazon Prime membership to anyone with a valid student email address (even if you have an Amazon Prime account already, they will refund you the remaining balance and extend your Prime membership a year into the future). With careful shopping you can find textbooks anywhere from new with a slight discount to heavily-used and extremely discounted.


Five Best Places to Buy Cheap Textbooks
AbeBooks is a massive online marketplace for new, used, and rare books. They have a bustling textbook section with new and used books that average 50% off retail—we found quite a few books in our test searches that crept up in the 75-90% range, however. AbeBooks has a 30-day return policy and an easy-to-use sell-back program—plug in the ISBNs, print off a free mailing label, and ship them back for cash in your pocket.

Five Best Places to Buy Cheap Textbooks, an eBay subsidiary, offers cheap media and books including textbooks. Like a giant used bookstore/record store equivalent of eBay, is a great place to find cheap textbooks. Low prices aside, one of the strong selling points for textbook shopping at is their Buying Wizard. Using the Buying Wizard you can search for the books you need and the wizard will search all the deals on to find you the best combination of prices and combined shipping to get your textbooks faster and cheaper.


Five Best Places to Buy Cheap Textbooks
BIGWORDS is the textbook website that put seller/shipping optimization on the map with their Multi-Item Price Optimization services. When you search for textbooks at BIGWORDS, they scan dozens of other textbook retailers and resellers to find you the absolute bargain basement prices. When the semester is over you can use the BIGWORDS engine in reverse to sell them all back or donate your textbooks through Better World Books to help fight illiteracy in developing nations.

Now that you've had a chance to look over the five most popular contenders for the best place to buy cheap textbooks, it's time to vote for your favorite:

Which Place to Buy Cheap Textbooks Is Best?online surveys

Have a favorite spot to grab cheap textbooks that wasn't highlighted in this Hive Five? Let's hear about it in the comments.