The outrageous cost of textbooks can be difficult for any student, yet without the textbooks, there is no way to successfully take a class. Moving to a college dorm or area apartment is expensive, paying for meals is also a strain on the average budget, and students often can only take on part time jobs in order to handle class schedules.
Saving money on textbooks is a must. While many online book stores claim to sell used textbooks, some offer far better selections and shipping rates. Freshman often are unsure on how to find used textbooks without getting ripped off or charged more in shipping than is truly necessary.
Ebay tends to be the first site people think of when looking for used items at a discounted price. They can be a great place to search for cheap textbooks. Competition often drives prices down to extremely low levels, but it is important to pay attention to shipping rates. Often sellers will raise shipping and handling rates to make up for the low bids.
Half.com is owned by Ebay, but buyers pay a flat rate for shipping. Books are priced at 50% off the suggested retail price or less, and like Ebay competition helps keep prices down. There are many benefits to using Half.com, but one issue that does come up is when sellers misrepresent the quality of their books. While the seller may say the book is like new, it may in fact have creases, tears, and lots of liner notes. You can return the book, but odds are high that most buyers will not want to go through that hassle.
Ecampus is a unique online store that buys books from the seller, verifies their condition, and then sells them online. Buyers are guaranteed the book is in excellent condition. Prices at Ecampus are low and shipping rates are comparable to other online stores.
Barnes and Noble and Amazon both sell used books. With their service, shipping rates are fair and competition keeps prices low. However, like Ebay and Half.com there is no way to guarantee the condition of the seller's book.
Your campus will have a bookstore that also offers used textbooks. With the physical location, you have to hope your needed textbook is in stock, but there will not be shipping rates involved. If you need a book at the last minute, shopping in an area store does ensure you have the book in hand instantly. The biggest problem with campus stores is that the prices are not going to be competitive, so often you will pay more than your would online.
In the end, the choice is yours. Shopping online offers the lowest rates and best selection, but sometimes shopping in your area is best if you are in a hurry.