Textbook Freneticism, Part Deux

So my daughter’s Freshman year of college has concluded and it’s time to return the rented textbooks.  This is making me re-visit the textbook acquisition process, to some degree, by way of a bit of a “de-brief” to avoid some of the pitfalls of this year’s search scenario to assist in streamlining future endeavors…

The winter semester began with an exhaustive & exhausting search for the best possible prices in hopes of not needing to reinvent this wheel in the future and to be able to better advise my other college friends in their own book searches…

The final source of this semester’s purchases was a bit of an inadvertent find.  I had already run several searches for Individual books at the website when I noticed an ability to search for Multiple Books simultaneously!  Here’s what we found initially at DirectTextbook.com:

Lowest Combined Price (All Bookstores)

*Click the book’s price to go to the bookstore

New Used Ebook Rental
9780393340730 – The Lifespan of a Fact TextbookRush MarketTextbookRush Market + $4.58 +
9781285436500 – Writing Analytically KnetbooksKnetbooks + + + $23.41
9780872206335 – Five Dialogues : Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Meno, Phaedo Half.comHalf.com + $2.20 + +
9780872206410 – God KnetbooksKnetbooks + + $13.94
9780205863792 – The DK Handbook : Researching, Desigining, Documenting, Proofreading, Arguing, Writing, Editing, Revising AlibrisAlibris $8.00 + + +
(1 new and 2 used and 2 rental) $51.01
Shipping and Handling: $10.47

Lowest Total (All Bookstores) $61.48

Applicable Coupons

http://www.directtextbook.com/multiprices/14243

I don’t remember if I actually clicked on the individual coupon links from the above table.  I may have done so to also compare those coupons to ones available from this helpful site:

https://www.retailmenot.com/coupons/books?c=8441883

By the way, I read about the RetailMeNot.com website from one of the many articles perused to enlighten this year’s textbook search process.  Those articles were found by searching for best or cheap and textbook in various search engines, I believe.  Some of those articles were what inspired the original “Textbook Freneticism” posting, hoping that My Post may assist others, and be a good reference for me/us again, when needed…

Based on our experiences with the Fall Semester, we still began looking at the college campus’ bookstore, Barnes & Noble.  We input my daughter’s class schedule at the campus B & N site to get a listing of required materials for each of her classes.  We discussed them to determine which ones she actually Needed.  I created an electronic document containing all of the info on her schedule, and the course requirements.  This helped to document the baseline data from which we would then work.  We discussed my daughter’s preferences for material style based on her first college semester (hard/soft-cover vs binder style vs electronic, etc.) including whether she would prefer to own an item.  Since my daughter has ADHD her learning style needs were also considered along with the knowledge that she was late in returning some rental books last semester and ended up being penalized financially here.  The formatting choice and B & N price then became our baseline with which to compare all the search results…

Armed with the pared down preferential list, and including the results in the electronic doc we returned to online searching.  This searching was facilitated by the fact that the Fall semester’s Barnes & Noble “low price guarantee” fiasco meant that I already had a substantial list of websites to review…I had hoped to analyze the veracity of the info available on some of the aggregating sites by confirming details at the source site, but I never was able to wade that  far into the weeds.  A relatively cursory view of the sites makes them appear to offer reasonably similar results, at least as far as pricing and vendors go.  Some include potential coupons and some calculate total cost with shipping.  I didn’t notice any overtly stating “free” returns though at least one site took into consideration the “buy back” (by them presumably) discount in their net pricing…

Several sites allowed for keeping multiple items within their system though I don’t believe any of the  others did the same type of overall low-price comparison like DirectTextbook.com did…So this DT site is still my planned Go-To site going forward.

SlugBooks.com shows several options in a table manner and I believe it can line up multiple books visually in its table/column format.  It also has several articles that discuss discount shopping for textbooks that can be helpful (a number of sites have articles, but that’s not the focus here).  Here’s a view of the results choices the columns/table includes:

List Price Amazon AbeBooks ValoreBooks Purchase Chegg ValoreBooks Rental Amazon Rental
You currently have no books on your list. Please search using the bar above!

 

BooksPrice.com keeps multiple searches on internal tabs within its webpage.  This allows for easy flipping between your choices.  It also allows you to choose among formats for textbooks and to exclude particular vendors to narrow the results available to some degree.  Here’s an example of the first three results from a recent search:

Store Name Condition Availability Term Price Shipping Total Price Go to Store
ebay
Exclude / Preferred
Used [+] Available $4.16 Free $ 4.16 Go to
ebay
Thriftbooks.com
Exclude / Preferred
Used [+] In Stock $3.79 $0.99 $ 4.78 Go to
Thriftbooks.com
Abebooks
Exclude / Preferred
Used Available $5.23 Free $ 5.23 Go to
Abebooks

 

CheapestTextbooks.com orders results by price; it also contains internal tabs, but these are for different format options on an individual book.  They do provide a column for coupons and deals and give sufficient info there to make informed choices.  You can  click directly on the choice to be taken to the vendor to complete your purchase, but this is a feature that most of the sites seem to have.  Here is an example of the page’s formatting showing a couple of results:

Used New Rent eBook Sell Back

Best Buying and Renting Options – Total includes shipping

Store  Condition Coupons & Deals  Price Shipping  Total
Barnes & Noble.com
(Marketplace)
Used $2.00
as of 1 second ago
$3.99
Amazon
(Marketplace)
Used $3.98
as of 1 second ago
$3.99

 

DealOz.com lays out many options in columns and highlights certain features in red to draw one’s attention to the best price within a format or other helpful info.  Here’s an example of what a search at this site would return:

Sort by

Price

Condition

Shipping

Coupons

Cash Back

Total

Store

10  Used
Marketplace
+$3.99

Standard: 4-14
Amazon Marketplace
 
Featured
10  New
Marketplace
+$3.99

Standard: 4-14
Amazon Marketplace
 
Featured
10  Used
Marketplace
+$2.64

Standard: 5-14

 

Unfortunately the DealOz.com copy/paste  above doesn’t show how well formatted the page is…check out the actual site to get a better idea of how this site may work for you…

 

BigWords.com calls itself the “uber-marketplace” and does have a wide ranging search capability.  It offers internal pop-up clickable links on the results to give extra helpful info for decision-making.  Here’s an example of their results:

  • TYPE
  • PRICE
  • S/H
  • BUYBACK/DEALS
  • TOTAL
  • Abebooks

    Details

    USED$5.84$2.64

    $0.58

    $7.90

  • Amazon Marketplace

    Details

    USED$3.98$3.99 $7.97

Like the copy/paste previously, this doesn’t accurately reflect the BigWords.com ease of usage…so please visit the site to see its format.

 

I was just visiting the DirectTextbook.com site and couldn’t easily find the Multiple Book Search function.  So please use this below site and change the ISBNs to include the books you want to search for!  It was apparently God’s mercy that I ever found this multiple book search at all!!!!

http://www.directtextbook.com/multiprices/14243

Use the box on the upper left of the page to input the desired books’ ISBNs and then click the “update results” link near the top of the page.  I really hope this works for you as well as it worked for us!  Blessings…

BookFinder4U.com also searches a large marketplace for many options.  It shows the country of origin and user’s ratings of various sellers to assist in your choices.   Another nice feature is that is shows the shipping times on the results page, which can aid in selections when time is of the essence.  Here’s an example of some of their results:

Store Name Book Type Price Shipping [?] Total [?] Availability [?] Tax Store Rating  
usa
<Marketplace>
Used
2.00
USD
3.89
4-14 days
Best Price
5.89
You save 98%
In Stock
usa
<Marketplace>
Used
2.00
USD
3.99
4-14 days
In Stock
usa
<Marketplace>
Used
3.15
USD
3.49
4-14 days
In Stock PA

 

AbeBooks.com was recommended in one of the articles that I read initially.  It also came up in many of the marketplace searches within aggregating websites and seems to have its own marketplace capability.  It has the distinction of also searching “rare books”.  I went there to verify pricing/terms when selecting to purchase from there based on a multi-search from DirectTextbook.com.  I believe the results lined up OK…

ValoreBooks.com was referenced in several of the aggregate search sites and seems to also do some aggregate searching itself.  It chunks the details in just a few columns so it’s not as easy to lose your place visually on the page compared to some sites with many columns, a bonus with attentional challenges in play…

Chegg.com also comes up frequently in aggregate searches.  It was the go-to textbook site for my currently-in-college son for a while (I think he prefers Amazon.com now with an Amazon Prime student membership giving free shipping) …I believe this is also the site that offered a free preview of a textbook which could really help when waiting on a shipment (details in my previous “Freneticism” posting).  I went here to check out prices mentioned on other sites.  It also came up as one of the top 3 least cost vendors when only wanting to purchase from one source in the DirectTextbook.com multisearch I ran…

Here is the free preview from Chegg, which appears to offer viewing, and perhaps testing of etext features…and I encountered no other vendor offering this service!

http://reader.chegg.com/reader/book.php?id=PR_9781305161726&cart-params=Trackid%3D29bcebde%26instacc_cart%3D1%26ii%3D

 

Textbooks.com is another searchable site by ISBN and it also showed up in some of the aggregate site searches…

Half.com was a highly recommended site by one of the articles I read on textbook searching online.  I went to this site because one of the books we wanted was cheapest there.  I set up the purchase but for some reason it was cancelled by the seller.  I had been leery of going through an eBay company, for no rational reason, so that order cancel reinforced my baseless distaste.  I ended up getting the book for twice the half.com cost from another source after running a secondary book search for items that weren’t known before classes started…which meant I ultimately had several items to data crunch in another multi-search at DT…

Bookbyte.com occasionally shows up in aggregate searches.  I believe it was also referenced in one of the articles I read.

BookScouter.com clearly lines up many sellers making it easy to see the price and condition gradients.  It also looks like it recruits books to buy so it may be a good source for getting some money back on unneeded books.

TextbookRentals.com may have been another site recommended by some of the articles that I read.  I went there to verify pricing from an aggregate site, I believe.  It shows clearly and easily the differences in prices and rental times and seems easy to skim through for details.  It has a slot to show buyback offers as well as purchase pricing all on one page for convenience.

ECampus.com was a source of a couple of our rentals, I believe, though we actually got the items through KNetBooks.com.  Perhaps ECampus operates under many names or has subsidiaries?  It seems to have some degree of a marketplace feature but many of the vendors were from one locale…It also has a clear “sell” capability.

BookFinder.com provides a lot of info in a relatively small space with relatively small print, which can be a bit overwhelming from an ADHD perspective.  It does make it pretty easy to compare details and appears to order items based on price.  Here’s an example of what you might see there:

New books: 1 – 25 of 28

 

TextSurf.com shows basically the same vendors as SlugBooks.com.  It is pretty easy to compare these choices it a glance and uses a descent amount of white space in its presentation which may be easier on the eyes and mind for those with attentional issues.  I didn’t do a deeper analysis to see if TextSurf & Slug prices were comparable…It clearly marks selling options on its search page.  It doesn’t obviously include shipping which impacts cost.  Here’s how results might look:

Buying Options
Amazon $3.98
Save $103.42!
AbeBooks $4.31
Save $103.09!
ValoreBooks $4.72
Save $102.68!
Booksrun N/A
Renting Options
Chegg $21.99
Save $85.41!
ValoreBooks N/A
Booksrun N/A
Digital Options
RedShelf $42.67
Ebook rental (180 days) Save $64.73!

 

BookFace.com shows it’s results alphabetically by vendor, at least while searching.  It also has an easy “sell your copy” feature that likely also searches the marketplace for offers…

AffordABook.com has a very easy on the eyes for someone with ADHD results page.  It appears to list just the one best priced item in a category and shows shipping charges but not coupons.  It may be a good starting search page for someone who doesn’t want to be overwhelmed with too much info but other sites offer more details, so may need consultation.  Here’s how the results might look:

Search Results:

Retailer
Price
Shipping
Final Price
Buy/Rent
$3.98
$3.99
$7.97
(lowest price!)
$4.72
$3.95
$8.67
$21.99
$21.99
$25.00
$3.99
$28.99

Well, this shows the INFO but Not the Appearance of that page…hmm

 

TextbookRush.com is another site from which we made a purchase, though I thinks the deal was found through TextbookDirect and verified at Rush.  The site also offers a “get Cash” button that presumably includes selling back textbooks owned, and based on one page it appears that there is free shipping on the books You sell to them…It appears to also do its own marketplace type searches and offers helpful details like book condition and shipping .

Both BarnesAndNoble.com and Amazon.com were necessary searches according to the B & N Campus bookstore “low price guarantee” where the on-campus store would match pricing from either online vendor, but not their marketplace options unless they were “fulfilled by” the actual store…I don’t believe either store ever offered the best price…though there was a .ca (Canada) stored that seemed to have a best price but we could not actually purchase from them to be shipped to our US address–at least as far as I could tell.

This is a link to the B & N Price Match…

https://bnc.pgtb.me/0X3s0B

I wanted to comment on the only rental we got that included the mailer (packaging & shipping label–all for free!) in the shipment of the textbook.  The return label goes to Campus Book Rentals, but looking that up online suggests using  TextbookUnderground.com.  We apparently rented items from both vendors but only CampusBookRentals.com provided the mailing packaging.  The item from TextbookUnderground offered free return shipping via a printed label, but you have to provide the packaging (we reused some items from book shipments to us)…

The CampusBookRentals.com site offers a “search all at once” option, but don’t know how that actually works out so we’ll need to check that out next semester…

This is about all I’ve got currently on this topic…I don’t have any saved searches on CBR &/or TextbookUnderground so cannot easily describe the results.  I’m considering a third installment on this topic to address the selling the books back option as we have a couple to possibly sell & using those ISBNs may allow a mock search on those other sites…and I may see from the original “Freneticism” posting if there were any other sites I used during the process but didn’t end up recapping here to potentially include in the concluding post.  Also, that possible 3rd posting (theoretical currently) may include an order of usage or preference shorthand to become my/our go-to approach going forward in this domain.

Hopefully someone besides myself or my family finds some useful info here.  I hope to Never need to dive so deeply into textbook searching in the future as this was a complex and confusing process.  The first semester’s searches were especially overwhelming in that some had so many choices (new, used rental, hard/soft/binder,electronic, international, older/cheaper editions, etc), each of which had their own price points, it became incredibly tedious to even attempt to find the best overall pricing.  That’s part of what made the DirectTextbook.com multisearch feature such a Literal Godsend!  Having specified desired formats with my daughter (like no instructor’s versions) and narrowing down the choices to only what was actually needed for her classes we could commence a comprehensive multi-search and get the results within minutes.

Being of both a thorough and penny-pinching nature, I still checked most of these items against the actual source website (not just clicking through) and also reviewed vendors’ coupons from several sources to verify the quality of the actual chosen deals.  These extra measures helped me to feel reasonably confidant that we had gotten near to the best deals we could possibly get on the searched items available at that time from a very active marketplace.

Well, best wishes and God’s Best Blessings to you as you endeavor to also be a good steward of the material resources and time bestowed upon you.  Hopefully I haven’t “squandered” my time, but rather heavily “invested” it in this pretty comprehensive searching process so as to facilitate our (and perhaps your) future textbook explorations, acquisitions, and “exportations”.  –Valerie

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