Saturday, March 19, 2011

Save Money on Books

A good list of where to buy text books online. Although philosophy usually doesn't have the outrageous book prices of the disciplines like biology, it is always nice to save some money. Some of these would be great to suggest to incoming students without a clue.

So last fall, we surveyed the various ways to save money on textbooks. We highlighted the free offerings online and the emergence of e-books, and listed several sites that rent or sell used books, as well as Web sites that act as search engines and compare prices across several providers.
Since then, we’ve learned of several more options, in part through the informative nuggets left by more than 200 readers who chimed in with their own suggestions. So in this latest edition, we have highlighted some of those and have taken an even closer look at comparison Web sites that do much of the legwork for you.
Comparison sites:
When using the comparison sites or other marketplaces, be sure to ask yourselves the following questions, suggests Nicole Allen, the textbook advocate at the Student Public Interest Research Groups. Are the books in comparable condition? Are rentals for the same numbers of weeks? Do the results exclude special offers or coupon codes? Can I do better at an on-campus book swap or loan program? What about local stores or other online retailers? Punch in the name and/or author of the book, and it generates a list of the cheapest competing providers — retailers and renters both — with the book and shipping costs listed separately. “It considers new and used books, book rentals, e-books, international editions, as well as current promotions, coupons and shipping,” Jeff Sherwood, the site’s chief executive, said in an e-mail.
Place your cursor on “about this copy,” and a little box will pop up describing the condition of the book (if it’s used) and the name of the seller (if it’s an listing, for instance, it will show the name of the actual seller). You can also filter your search for only “new or used” and “new only” books, or eliminate third-party sellers. (BigWords said that some users felt there was a risk with relying on an individual to send out books in a timely matter.) If you have books to sell, you can also run a search that will list various offers for a book in good condition. Despite this site’s busy home page, several readers mentioned DealOz, which scours more than 200 online bookstores. A search for “Art History” by Marilyn Stockstad, yielded a long list of options ranging from a $41.06 rental from CampusBookRentals to a used text for $88.98 from, to a $109.49 new book from Alibris. I liked the fact that results often included coupons in the total price. and A search for the same art history book on these two sites, suggested by readers, yielded similar results. has a no-frills feel, but all of the information you need — total cost, expected delivery — is listed. The site, which claims to search most major online booksellers, didn’t appear to include rentals., meanwhile, also generated a long list of options (including rentals), but prices were slightly higher than DealOz, which factored in coupon discounts. This site is aimed at students attending the 36 universities currently in its system (more are slated to join this year). After you select your state, college, department and course, the required books will populate a chart comparing the costs of new and used copies at your college bookstore;;; rentals at and; any digital options through Coursesmart and Amazon Kindle; and local student exchange listings run through Facebook. (Be sure to look for coupons and special discounts on the left-hand side of the screen.) Certain books also provide a sneak peak at the first chapter, so you can begin reading before it arrives.
You can also conduct a broader search across about 20 providers through a search box on its home page. Once results show up, click on “Want More Options.” Like SlugBooks, this site — created by a senior majoring in computer science at Bard and two juniors at Tufts — is aimed at students attending specific colleges (in this case, a network of 522 colleges). After you locate your classes, the site tells you which books you need, and generates a comparison across Amazon, Amazon’s third-party sellers, Chegg, AbeBooks, and your college bookstore.”We consider our ’secret sauce’ to be our intelligent algorithm that calculates the best place or places to buy all of your books collectively, not each one individually,” Michael Walker, one of the site’s founders, said in an e-mail. “We take factors like savings on combined shipping into account to help students find the overall best deal for all of their books.”
A search for a macroeconomics text required by a professor at Babson College appeared to yield competitive results.  Meanwhile,  all students attending a university outside of the GetchaBooks network can search for their books by entering its ISBN number., a large marketplace with options to buy, rent or sell books, said it had declared a “price war” on its rivals who also rent books. As part of its guarantee program, the company will match any rental prices found elsewhere within seven days of your transaction. In a press release, the company pointed to three examples where it undercut Chegg, a competing rental company. But when I performed a search, I found a cheaper rental, so results may vary based on what you search for. ValoreBooks’ rentals offers free shipping both ways, and shipping on books you purchase starts at $3.95. This site — where you can buy used, new or rent — is run by a privately held book distributor that owns a network of 280 college bookstores. Like Slugbooks and Getchabooks, it’s preloaded with the participating college’s courses and required books, but any student can use the site. So I performed a search for a college on its list — a biology class at the State University of New York at Purchase, which required “Fetal Pig Coloring Book” (a lab manual). It was listed for $19.99, with free shipping (shipping is free  if you can wait up to 14 days for delivery). But I was able to find new and used versions that were about $5 cheaper through DealOz. The site is currently offering 100,000 free rentals to students who “like” Neebo on Facebook.
More on e-textbooks. If you’re not sure you’ll be completely comfortable reading and highlighting an e-book, at least one provider is allowing you to try it free. Follett — a large textbook wholesaler that also runs the RentAText program through more than 900 universities — lets you download any of the 12,000 eligible e-books for seven days through its Web site. Once you purchase and download it to your computer or netbook (an iPad version will be available in February), it’s yours to keep and doesn’t expire like some other e-books, the company said.
Just keep in mind that you can print only 30 percent of the text. a large variety of books for free online. Many have only partial views but those partial views can mean only one page is missing. 

1 comment: