College textbooks are a racket. You all know it's true. But they are often vital to successfully move forward towards your career. (My first semester of nursing school I paid over $800 (and that was several years ago) for textbooks from my campus bookstore and I got most of them used. And then I didn't even use about half of them. Murg. Like I said, it's a racket.) Despite what some college bookstores would like you to think, buying online is a FANTASTIC option. This fall my husband is going back to school. He ordered all of his textbooks from Amazon.com. Amazon charged $102 for used textbooks vs. $220 for used textbooks from our local college bookstore, and he got all of them delivered within one week. When I was in college my campus bookstore really like to push the idea that getting your textbooks online would prevent you from being successful in your classes, you'd get the wrong book, it would be late, or other such problems. Not if you're smart about it. (Then when their scare tactics didn't work, they just wouldn't release the textbook lists until after school had already started, so then you really were more likely to get your books late. :S) Don't fall for those tactics. College is expensive enough. Here are some helpful tips to make sure you get what you are looking for and save some money too.
- Shop by the ISBN number! It will be a 13 digit number located above the bar code of the book. Every book has one. Often classes will provide this number in your syllabus or in some correspondence to you before class starts. Remember there are numerous books with the same title, and multiple editions, especially with textbooks. Searching by the ISBN helps you to make sure you are getting the correct book and edition.
- Give yourself time.-Order your books as soon as you can, to make sure you get what you need by the time you need. Usually you want to give yourself two weeks for delivery.
- Look at the ratings of the seller. Amazon Marketplace is a great place to purchase used textbooks. But look at the feedback that previous customers give on the seller. They can usually tell you if the seller follows through and ships their items in a timely manner. Happy customers like to tell other people about their good experience. Also take into account that there are people out there who like to complain instead of take responsibility for their own stupidity. 'This seller gets a 1-star rating because this is not the book I wanted.' Even if it was the correct book for the ISBN #. Angry costumers are even more likely to let people know how they feel. Many good sellers may still have a few 1 or 2 star ratings. Look at their overall ratings over time or their percentage of positive feedback.
- You can trust Amazon proper. Although they have a smaller selection of used textbooks. I have on rare occasion known people who have had problems with something they ordered from Amazon, wrong item, it was damaged in shipping, etc. But everyone who contacted Amazon had the problem fixed, either Amazon replaced the item or gave the customer a large discount. I have used other textbook websites with mixed results. Amazon takes away so much hassle.
- And of course, buy used when you can.
And right now Amazon is offering a great deal to college students. If you go to the Amazon Student page, you can get a free membership to Amazon Prime for one year. Amazon Prime gives you free unlimited 2-day shipping with no minimum order size. Amazon is also offering deals on many back to school essentials beyond the books. Check out their savings on clothes, school supplies and stuff for the dorm.
Disclaimer- Yes, Amazon does give me a very small fee for putting their banner on this post. But I wouldn't promote them if what I said weren't true. I love Amazon. I have snagged many great deals there, they sell quality products and they are reliable. Shopping through Amazon makes my life easier.