4 Best Sites to Buy, Rent and Sell Textbooks


Jacqueline Yoshimura

Campus bookstores may be convenient but there are plenty of better deals online along with a wider range of textbook formats and selections.

As if college tuition, housing and food expenses were not already enough, the cost of textbooks can add a significant amount of financial stress to any student. In 2017 the College Board reported that the average expenditure of a full-time four-year undergraduate student is estimated to range from $21,000 to $51,000 depending on whether the student attends a private or public college or university. Within that budget, the College Board also found that an average of $1,200 is spent on textbooks each year. Every semester, students scramble to find textbooks for cheap while selling older books from previous courses. Although the campus bookstore is convenient, there are plenty of online resources offering a better deal and a wider range of textbook formats and selections. Here are the four best sites to buy, rent and sell textbooks.

Example: Campbell Biology 11th Edition (ISBN-13: 978-0134093413) 

* Prices for textbooks may vary and fluctuate depending on inventory scarcity. 

1. Chegg

Chegg has been in business since 2003 and is one of the most familiar sites when it comes to buying, renting and selling books due to its 21-day risk free return and free rental returns for all books using a printable prepaid shipping label. Moreover, Chegg has diversified its services by offering students online tutoring and even includes a four-week free trial of Chegg Study for all first-time purchases, a feature that provides customers step-by-step solutions for assignments and 24-hour Q&A help from experts.

Buy: $218.49 new and $257.99 used

Rent: $49.99

Digital: $56.99 to buy

2. Amazon

For students who prefer Kindle e-books, look no further than Amazon. To think the major retailer could not get any better, students can also buy, rent and sell books all on the Amazon platform. Another great feature is its refund policy – full refund guaranteed if returned within 30 days of purchase and in the same condition as it was received – which is a considerably longer period of time compared to the average two to three weeks most other sites offer. Payments through Amazon gift cards or promotional balances are also accepted, a major plus for those students who already frequently shop the site. Moreover, Amazon Prime members living in the continental U.S. will benefit from the free two-day shipping, while new Prime Student members will receive free Amazon Prime benefits for six months.

Buy: $199.87 new and $134.80 used

Rent: $49.98

Digital: $56.99 to rent and $155.99 to buy

3. Campus Book Rentals

Although Campus Book Rentals lacks a buy-back service, the site has been around since 2007 and provides customer support through phone and live chat. Simply search for a new or used book or e-book by title, author, keyword or ISBN to get an immediate quote. The site helps students save time by serving as a resource that automatically directs customers to a supplier with the best offer. Campus Book Rentals also offers flexible rental periods and free rental returns via prepaid mailer. The most forgiving features about the site are the no-questions-ask refund policy for all books returned within 21 days and the 15-day grace period for all rental books, meaning no late fees will be charged as long as it’s returned within 15 days after the end of the rental term.

Buy: $199.87 new and $180.42 used

Rent: $49.98

Digital: $56.99 to rent and $159.99 to buy

4. Student2Student

Student2Student is unique in the sense that it allows college students to buy and sell textbooks directly with other students on their own campus or nearby campuses. For this purpose, there are no shipping fees or credit cards involved. Simply search for the desired book and type in the name of your college or university and the website will determine if it is available on your campus. The site also provides safety warnings and encourages students to avoid wiring or transferring money and to always do local meet-ups only.

Sellers set their own prices, thus costs will vary and rentals are unavailable.