enough textbooks to make my head hurt

The beginning of the semester = textbook buying

Those of us in college begin the twice – annual headache of textbook buying this time of year, as we prepare to go back to school for spring semester. I went to a public high school, so I’m new to this problem, and here’s my approach. Apologies in advance that this is more of a heavy post than usual!

I decided to use some (ok a lot) of time over break to take care of my textbooks so that I won’t have to worry about them. I made some crazy handwritten charts for all of my books, and my roommate C does the same.  I’m going to outline how I figured out which place was best for each book, and at the end I list some general tips.

1. Amazon – I’ve found that a lot of the books I need are cheapest on Amazon. A note of caution – look at a comparison with the shipping costs! Most of the cheapest prices aren’t on Amazon Prime eligible items – but often times its cheaper even with the shipping added in.

2. Emory Barnes and Noble – I’m sure you all get those pesky emails from your campus bookstore with book rental offers. I use this because it’s connected to my schedule and shows me exactly which books I need in one webpage without having to flip through the course atlas. First semester, I bought most of my books at the store because of convenience and time, but in the future I will do more careful research (like now!). Sometimes it really is the only place you can get books, but I usually use it as a last resort or place to sell books back.

3. Bookrenter – Bookrenter had by far the cheapest price for my business textbooks. Unlike the name, you can do more than rent. While I have yet to see the textbook, reviews tell me it will be worthwhile (and I saved almost 100 dollars!) .

4. Chegg – Although I didn’t buy any books from Chegg, for certain books it may be the right choice. I use it for selling books back and earning a few bucks.

This is a sample of what I would do –

BUS350 Stats For Managers, Using MS Excel

Barnes and Noble: Rent New: $122.35, Rent Used: $73.40

Amazon: Buy Used: $25.98, Rent: $18.14

Chegg: Rent: $17.99 Buy: $21.44

Book Renter: Rent: $18.49, Buy $20.84

I decided that I would rather buy this book, because I might need it in the future, so I went with Bookrenter. By listing all of the prices out, however I can see what makes sense. I think its ok to spend a little bit more on a book if its resell value is also more. This book can be resold on Amazon for $14.65, so I’m pretty happy about that trade off! (way more worth it than renting!).


  • I would recommend using the ISBN number to search for the book. The last thing you want is to end up with a different version with different page numbers. It totally happened to my friend S in our literature class this semester and made her book completely useless.
  • I only buy required books before the semester starts, and only for classes I’m 100% sure I’m really taking. Emory has add/drop/swap for the first two weeks of the semester, where you can still change your schedule. So, it’s silly to buy books for a course that you think you will drop, and teachers understand that.
  • Ship to school! You never know how long books will take to arrive, and anyway you don’t want to carry them in your travels.
  • If the price difference isn’t huge I prefer to buy books that I don’t want for the future, because I can sell them back. If I rent a book I lose out!
  • You can sell books back to Barnes and Noble at your school – just research before so you know if they’re giving you a good price or you’re better off purchasing somewhere else. Most sites (Chegg, Amazon) will pay shipping for you as well.
  • There are a ton of websites out there – explore some more and you may be rewarded!
  • Lastly, I found that from when I first checked prices to when I ordered my books, the prices dropped so always be on the look out!

Good luck and comment with any of your own tips!



2 thoughts on “enough textbooks to make my head hurt

  1. thecollegeblues says:

    This is a really good idea and I’m definitely bookmarking this for the future! I received a scholarship for books this year, so I had to buy mine from the bookstore. First semester’s books were $800 and this semester’s books were $300! Ridiculous! So, when I have to pay for them with my own money next year, I’m definitely referring back to this.


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