Where Are The Best Deals On College Textbooks? Generally, Amazon

Our power-shopping colleagues down the hall at Consumer Reports wondered: which of the used-textbook services have the best prices on popular course materials? You can usually get the best prices by bypassing the campus bookstore, but which of the many sites now available offer the best deals?

Their survey wasn’t perfect, namely because they went book shopping in July. Shopping for books in July doesn’t give you perfect insight into what prices are like during the beginning-of-the-semester rush, but summer classes are a thing, and the sites’ inventory and prices did vary between visits.

What they found was that the site that had the consistently best prices was Amazon. At any given time, a different site might have a slightly lower price, but Amazon’s prices were the best consistently over time. Barnes & Noble was consistently the highest, which isn’t surprising given that the company owns a huge number of college bookstores.

New books were trickier: there wasn’t much variation in price, but the very freshest texts weren’t always in stock at all sites.

The overall lesson from this experiment: give yourself some time to shop for books and find the best deals, and also be sure to shop around for the best prices.

College-textbook shopping test: Amazon’s prices for used books are consistently low [Consumer Reports]