August 10 2010|05.27 PM UTC

Alex Gutow

Who Doesn’t Love Cheap Textbooks?

Category: Personal FinanceTags: , , ,

For this upcoming school year, college students will have a pleasant surprise. The Higher Education Opportunity Act now requires colleges to release the book lists at the time of class registration. This means that now you will have ample time to find the best deals on textbooks rather than be forced to buy from the over-priced campus bookstore the day before classes begin.

We learned of a great site that saves you time from comparing used book prices from every online retailer. A website called Bigwords does for textbooks what BillShrink does for cell phone plans. All you need to do is provide the site with the title, author or ISBN number and Bigwords searches the web to find you the cheapest price for your book. Once you have found all your books for the semester, it will combine shipping costs for books from the same vendor (often offering you free shipping promo codes or other discounts).

One of my favorite features is the ability to filter out “rental” books, which you borrow for a semester. I know there has been a big push to rent books as a way to save money, but it never made much sense to me. Often I found it was more expensive to rent than to buy used. Even if you do pay a bit more to buy the book, you can sell your books back via Bigwords and they promise to get you up to 75% of your money back.

Throughout college I knew way too many people who paid hundreds and hundreds of dollars for their books every semester and justified it by claiming it was too much of a hassle to buy online. On average, I saved at least $200 a semester by spending 5 minutes online. Sometimes I even splurged for next-day shipping if I needed the book quickly for an assignment.

I also just discovered that they can find you the cheapest DVDs, music and games too! BillShrink gives Bigwords an A+ for helping us shrink our bills.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert August 11, 2010 at 3:00 pm

I use a website called ( that is similar to Bigwords but also has my school’s course info. It saves me an extra step since I don’t have to check my syllabus. The site tells me what books I need for my classes. When it doesn’t have my class’ syllabus, I can still search by book name/author/isbn.


Lisa August 13, 2010 at 7:32 pm

Similar to Kayak and Priceline, price comparison sites have emerged to apply the same concept to save students time and money when shopping for textbooks.

Unique to is its database of syllabus information for over 1,500 schools. Students can use to find their books at the cheapest price possible, without looking at even one syllabus.

Shopping for books online has never been faster, easier, or smarter!


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