Web sites offer textbooks at bargain prices

Bailey Porter
Web Editor

Armed with my syllabi, I marched into the University of La Verne Bookstore. Since classes have already begun, there were few used books so I grabbed as many as I could and decided not to even look at the prices when I had to opt for the new texts. Just after finalizing my student loans for the year, I felt kicked to the curb leaving the bookstore, my arms weighed down by two bags full of books.

But students who start thinking about their textbooks before they are handed their syllabi, or who have a little leeway before their first assignment is due, can turn to the Internet and save money when buying their books.

At textforsale.com you can browse through over 300 subject areas to find your book or use the site’s “quick start” option by simply plugging in the book’s ISBN number – that 10-digit number unique to each book located near the bar code on the back cover or inside the book on the same page as the publishing information.

Textforsale.com as well as other online services also posts the condition of the book, seller’s comments and the college the seller attends.

These Web sites don’t facilitate the sale of the books. That’s done student to student or student to local retailer. You can search for books without registering. But, once you create a free account you can log on and communicate with anyone selling a book.

Other Web sites catering directly to college students include books4exchange.com. Although this site is based in Canada, you can search by keyword, title, author and ISBN number much like a LEOpac search at Wilson Library and find a wide selection of books. I would not have found books for my L.A. fiction class but searching other subjects like biology, algebra and accounting promised better results. Prices at this site were on the steeper end, but students might still find it a savings from bookstore prices.

The thrill of the eBay auction is another option in buying and selling textbooks. Registration is free and you can browse before you sign up. If you don’t like the gamble of the auction you can narrow your search to books available in the “buy it now” category.

Craigslist.org is the online equivalent to a grab bag. Alongside job postings and personals there are also postings for books. Be prepared to take some time shifting through all the posts. The inventory includes everything under the sun and you will not find as specialized a search as other Web sites that are designed for the college student looking for cheap textbooks.

Universitybookzone.com appears to be a very user friendly site. It was developed two years ago by three college students in Southern California. This site offers helpful hints on their FAQ page about buying and selling books. University BookZone suggests students sell their books for less than the used book price at their university bookstore and more than what the bookstore will buy back the books for at the end of the term.

This site is new, so some subject searches come up short with only two books, others none. But one search found more than 50 books. Plus, the site links you to students in Southern California so you can save on shipping if you make the exchange in person.

At universitybookzone.com you can search by ISBN, keyword or school. You might find a book at Cal Poly Pomona or even at La Verne which is a good service since commuters aren’t privy to flyers posted in dorms and there are limited places to advertise on campus.

If you are really ahead of the game, University BookZone links to participating schools’ bookstore Web sites. You can search for the books you need online using your course number without even visiting the bookstore.

It might be too late to save on buying textbooks this semester. But for students who don’t plan to make a personal library out of textbooks and want to sell their books in December or want a little extra cash in their pockets when class begins in the spring, virtual bookstores might be their best resource.

Bailey Porter can be reached at porterb@ulv.edu.

Journalism operations manager at the University of La Verne. Production manager and business manager of the Campus Times.

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