Ranking the Best Online Textbook Retailers

CampusGrotto recommends renting textbooks as the best way to save money as it requires less money up front for the budget conscious student. See the part of this study that looked at the best places to rent below.

Some students, however, prefer to buy their textbooks brand new. Owning your own textbook allows you to mark it up and make as many notes and highlights as needed. Keeping this book in your own personal library also allows you to easily go back and use it as a reference down the road.

If you do plan on keeping your textbook and want the book in new condition, we recommend buying from these websites ranked in order of price (lowest to highest).

  1. Amazon.com
  2. Barnes & Noble
  3. Textbooks.com << Will Price Match Amazon.com
  4. TextbooksRus.com
  5. BookByte.com
  6. Powells.com
  7. eCampus.com
  8. TextbookX.com

How did we determine this ranking?

Just as we did in our previous study back in 2008, we compared the cost of various textbooks at every major textbook retailer on the web. Textbooks were chosen at random across a variety of subjects in an effort to find which websites offer the cheapest prices.

Textbooks Used in this Study:

  1. Applied Calculus ISBN: 0470170522
  2. Business Law ISBN: 0136085547
  3. Chemistry: A Molecular Approach ISBN: 0321651782
  4. Financial Accounting ISBN:0324651147
  5. Principles of Marketing ISBN: 0136079415
  6. Social Psychology ISBN: 0073370665

See Price Data Below

Best Place to Rent Textbooks

Of course not all students need to keep their textbooks after use, which is why renting textbooks is becoming very popular. The following ranking looks at the cheapest places to rent your textbooks. A few of the textbook retailers listed above offer a guaranteed buyback (BookByte, Amazon) when you buy the book. Since this is very similar to a short term rental we also factored in their cost as well (Original Cost – Guaranteed Buyback Price) to determine the total out-of-pocket cost to the student.

If you don't plan on keeping your textbook, you should get your books from one of these cheaper options:

  1. CampusBookRentals.com
  2. CollegeBookRenter.com
  3. Amazon.com
  4. Textbooks.com rentals
  5. Chegg.com
  6. eCampus rentals
  7. TextbooksRus.com rentals
  8. BookByte.com


Cheapest Place to Rent Textbooks: CampusBookRentals.com

According to this study, CampusBookRentals.com is clearly the cheapest option for getting your textbooks.

Cheapest Place to Buy Textbooks: Amazon.com

Amazon.com, probably the most well known website on this list, not only has the cheapest prices on textbooks, they also offer a very generous buyback option.

Best Textbook Retailer: Textbooks.com

Textbooks.com really lives by its motto of having the most choices and some of the best prices. At Textbooks.com you can rent your textbooks, buy it from them new or used, or even buy from others in their online marketplace. With the Textbooks.com Best Price Guarantee they will price match prices found on Amazon.com. Having this many options with great prices makes them the best online textbook website of this study.

New Textbook Prices Data:

Book 1Book 2Book 3Book 4Book 5Book 6Total
Amazon.com $113.72$147.26$152.17$145.71$165.31$115.61$839.78
Barnes & Noble$108.03$156.45$164.00$162.71$174.16$107.30$872.65

Prices taken January 3, 2011

Textbook Rental Prices Data:

Book 1Book 2Book 3Book 4Book 5Book 6Total
Textbooks.com rentals $70.49$85.99$79.99$84.99$57.99$71.49$450.94
Chegg.com $74.01$90.29$83.99$89.24$60.89$75.06$473.48
eCampus.com rentals $69.05$90.01$91.60$94.40$80.92$71.89$497.87
TextbooksRus.com $103.49 $48.47 $45.67 $161.83$200.79$38.77 $599.02
BookByte.com $77.85$108.58$130.69$125.77$138.25$77.66$658.80

Rental priced for semester
Prices taken January 3, 2011

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