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15 Great Websites to Buy, Rent and Sell New & Used Textbooks

Updated on May 15, 2012

I've been there - buying new and expensive textbooks for college and university, only to use 1/8 of the content and then stash it away on a bookshelf, never to use it again. Don't even bother going to the library to borrow that textbook. They will usually carry one copy, which you won't be allowed to checkout.

Being a student is extremely expensive, especially if you have to hand over hundreds of dollars every semester to textbooks. Thank goodness for the internet and the ability to buy, rent and sell used textbooks. This service is giving students more cash in their pockets which they can put to better use (like eating and drinking).

Here are 15 of the best websites for buying, renting and selling textbooks online:

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Quick Search for Textbooks

Want to make your life easier and search for the cheapest used textbook fast? Try using BookFinder, and search all of the best used online bookstores in one easy search!

AbeBooks (Part of Amazon)

Buy:Yes

Rent:No

Sell: Yes

Details: AbeBooks says that it's cheaper to buy and sell back textbooks than it is to rent them. This is definitely an idea worth trying if you're looking to save money on books. Many of the books at AbeBooks also offer free shipping. The website boasts 50-90% off list prices, which could save you a bundle.

Alibris

Buy: Yes

Rent: Yes

Sell: Yes

Details: Alibris offers textbooks for high school, homeschooling, and secondary education at a discount. You can both buy and rent books. Book rentals are for 130 days and you can save up to 90%. With Alibris, you can input the ISBN codes of books you wish to sell and find out how much they're worth.

Amazon

Buy: Yes

Rent: No

Sell: Yes

Details: Amazon has one of the largest selection of textbooks available on the internet. You can choose to buy new or used books, shipped by Amazon or other sellers. The down side is that Amazon doesn't offer textbook rentals, but you can sell your textbooks after you've used them by creating an Amazon sellers account (fees apply).

BookByte

Buy: Yes

Rent: Yes

Sell: Yes

Details: Bookbyte is one of the most popular websites to buy, rent and sell textbooks. Search for your textbook and see if it's available to rent or buy new or used. They offer free shipping both ways for textbook rentals and free shipping for purchases over $49.

The Book Depository (Part of Amazon)

Buy: Yes

Rent: No

Sell: No

Details: The Book Depository is a great UK website that offers hard-to-get books and textbooks. They offer free shipping on all orders, which is a great perk. They also re-print books via their "Dodo Press", and many are available as free eBooks.

Biblio

Buy: Yes

Rent: No

Sell: Yes

Details: Biblio sells books and textbooks on behalf of bookstores from around the world, giving you a great selection of books from near and far. They also have a "Make An Offer" section to their website, where you can bid on uncommon or rare books. They also offer teacher discounts on textbooks for grades K-12.

Chegg

Buy: Yes

Rent: Yes

Sell: Yes

Details: Chegg offers textbooks and eBooks at a discounted rate on their easy-to-browse website. Ebooks will also link you to their Q&A forum, for extra help with your homework. If you've ordered a physical book and you're waiting for it to arrive, Chegg will give you the ebook for you to view for 7 days while you wait.

CollegeBookRenter

Buy: No

Rent: Yes

Sell: Yes

Details: As the name suggests, CollegeBookRenter allows you to rent books, as well as sell your used textbooks. They boast the largest inventory of textbooks available on the internet. You can also earn discounts by following them on facebook and twitter.

eCampus

Buy: Yes

Rent: Yes

Sell: Yes

Details: eCampus offers some of the best prices on textbooks available on the internet. You can even make money when you refer your friends to ecampus ($5 every time they rent a book). When you sell a book on their website, you'll be able to ship them for free, which is also great.

eFollett

Buy: Yes

Rent: Yes

Sell: No

Details: eFollet is the provider of all the top Colleges and Universities in Canada and the USA, as well as K-12 schools in the USA. Browse for your institution then buy your textbook directly for their online bookstore. You can also rent books from the website to save money.

Half (Part of Ebay)

Buy: Yes

Rent: Yes

Sell: Yes

Details: Half, an eBay company, has an area dedicated to textbooks where you can browse books to buy or rent. If you're looking to sell a book, Half provides a super easy tool to help you with descriptions of you book by simply inputting your ISBN. Their prices are competitive, with the ability to choose the best seller available.

Powell's Books

Buy: Yes

Rent: Yes

Sell: Yes

Details: Powell's offer textbooks and eBooks for students, as well as the opportunity to sell their used books. They have a great Google Preview option on their website, so you can peruse before you buy. You can also visit a physical Powell's Bookstore if you are in the Portland area.

Textbooksrus

Buy: Yes

Rent: Yes

Sell: Yes

Details: Textbooksrus has a good selection of textbooks for you to buy and rent, You can even sell your books and earn an extra $5 when you sell four or more books. On another note, the caption on the top of the website stating "The mark TEXTBOOKSRUS is used pursuant to a license agreement with ToysRUs" is interesting. We'll see how this website plays out if they are stripped of their title.

Thriftbooks

Buy: Yes

Rent: No

Sell: No

Details: Thriftbooks have a really great user interface, with the ability to browse textbooks by location, seller and price. There is also a tab that provides details on other formats that the book is available in. They offer free shipping within the USA and low cost shipping the rest of the world.

University Books Online

Buy: Yes

Rent: Yes

Sell: Yes

Details: University Books Online have been in business for over 12 years, providing books to buy, rent or sell. They also sell medical uniforms, school supplies and other things you'll need to complete your studies. The website says that you can save up to 83% when you rent textbooks.

Let's Compare!

Biology with MasteringBiology (8th Edition) - Used

Buy New at Amazon: from $146.37

Buy Used at Biblio: from $30.46 (can be resold!)

Rent at CollegeBookRenter: $32.03 for 60 days

*Above prices correct at the time of publishing - May 2012

Tips for Saving Money on Textbooks

  • Try to buy used textbooks and then resell them to recoup your costs. As long as the book is in good condition, you won't have to worry about losing money.
  • Ask your instructor if you can purchase an older edition of the textbook. Last editions are usually quite a bit cheaper than the current edition.
  • Purchase your books from websites that offer free shipping. This is a cost you don't want to incur, especially when purchasing brand new textbooks.
  • If you do have to pay for shipping, try to order books that are local to you to reduce shipping costs.
  • Find out if your textbook is available in eBook or CD ROM editions. This will decrease your cost up to 50-80% on each book.

What is your experience with buying, renting or selling textbooks online?

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    • lilibees profile image

      lilibees 

      6 years ago

      Great hub! Very informative!However for me I just can't bare to part with any of my books. Even the ones from when I was a kid!

    • pharmacist profile image

      Jason Poquette 

      6 years ago from Whitinsville, MA

      This is a very helpful collection of sites for those of us who love textbooks! Even years after leaving college, I like to keep fresh on science topics. So I buy textbooks related to my fields of interest, but always "used" since the newest editions are way too expensive. Thanks for posting this!

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