The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

A guide to locating affordable college textbooks

Whether you prefer buying or renting, digital or hardcopy, this list contains sources for every kind of book you require.
Graphic+depicting+textbooks+and+school+supplies.+%28Hustler+Multimedia%2FSofia+El-Shammaa%29
Sofia El-Shammaa
Graphic depicting textbooks and school supplies. (Hustler Multimedia/Sofia El-Shammaa)

Just around a year ago, I arrived on Vanderbilt’s campus as a wide-eyed and overwhelmed first-year student without an inkling of what to expect from college-level classes. However, the one thing about which multiple sources – my parents, upperclassmen and the internet alike – assured me was that the first week would entail minimal work and consist mostly of course introductions and cringe-worthy icebreakers. However, I quickly discovered that this so-called “syllabus week” occurring in schools across the country was an immense myth at Vanderbilt. 

Instead, my classmates and I were immediately welcomed with heaps of textbook readings for homework. Already flustered from trying to juggle moving in, developing a Google Calendar and being stranded without transportation, the last thing for which I had energy was scouring the internet for textbooks. While I was fortunate enough to have parents willing to step in and do some research for me, many of my friends defaulted to the convenient yet exorbitantly overpriced Vanderbilt Bookstore. This year, returning two semesters wiser, I decided to compile the following list of resources for acquiring textbooks in hopes of eradicating some of the pre-semester panic and confusion I was forced to weather as a first-year. While some students may use illegitimate means of acquiring textbooks such as via sites like Libgen and Z-Library, the following list gives you a comprehensive view of the top legal ways to find books you need. 

AbeBooks

Condition: New and used

Price: $

Buy or rent: Buy only

If you are a person who studies by highlighting and physically annotating texts, AbeBooks is for you. It sells textbooks, novels and even sheet music at some of the cheapest prices on this list. The website is also extremely transparent about a book’s condition before you purchase it.

Amazon

Condition: New and used

Price: $$$

Buy or rent: Buy only

While Amazon may have done away with its effortless book rental service this past April, the mega-popular online retailer still boasts free two-day shipping with Amazon Prime. Thus, it is quite appealing to those in a pinch who need to get ahold of textbooks as soon as possible. 

Biblio

Condition: New and used

Price: Varies based on vendor

Buy or rent: Buy only

Biblio is a fairly versatile website that streamlines the process of buying textbooks by fulfilling orders from a variety of retailers. This business model allows consumers to compare prices of used books from several different locations to ensure that they are neither being ripped off nor falling for a “too good to be true” price. Students should just be wary of the fact that the condition of the book is very volatile because what one company defines as “good” may be quite a bit worse than what another does.

BooksRun

Condition: New and used

Price: $$

Buy or rent: Both

BooksRun is unique in its ability for users to sell their old textbooks on top of operating as a traditional bookstore. The site also offers free shipping on most textbooks. However, compared to other websites, BooksRun has a more limited stock. However, they do offer free returns on textbook rentals and even have a loyalty program that could be quite beneficial for those who intend to buy several textbooks from the site. 

Chegg

Condition: New and used

Price: $$

Buy or rent: Both

Chegg is a fan favorite among college students for acquiring textbooks and, in my opinion, is the most convenient by far. The company offers 100% free returns on all rental books. All you have to do is print off the shipping label they happily provide (and pay for!) and drop the package off at the nearest post office. Pro tip: If you save the signature bright-orange box your books arrive in, you won’t even have to purchase a new shipping container. Rental periods typically span a couple of weeks beyond the semester, so you can keep your books for finals season. 

Vanderbilt Bookstore

Condition: New and used

Price: $$$$

Buy or rent: Both

If all else fails, and you either need to get a textbook the same day or require a unique access code that only comes from purchasing a brand-new book, then the Vanderbilt Bookstore can serve as an absolute last (and I mean LAST) resort. Keep in mind that if you are taking popular courses such as General Psychology or General Chemistry, you run the risk of discovering that your required materials are on backorder.

Something for everyone

As you can see, there are a myriad of sources at your disposal for finding those required class materials. Whether you’re a pre-med student or a future educator, you should be able to find a site off this guide that both sells your textbooks and aligns with your purchasing goals.

Editor’s note: The Hustler does not endorse illegal activities nor does this piece serve to suggest illegal activities

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About the Contributors
Marques Watson
Marques Watson, Staff Writer
Marques Watson (‘26) is majoring in elementary education in Peabody College. He is originally from Dallas, Texas. When not writing for The Hustler, Marques can be often found studying Spanish, reading a good mystery novel or scouring the internet for new vinyls to collect. He can be reached at [email protected]
Sofia El-Shammaa
Sofia El-Shammaa, Staff Writer and Photographer, Data and Graphics Staffer
Sofia El-Shammaa (‘27) is majoring in political science and communication studies in the College of Arts and Science. When they’re not writing or making graphics, you can find them with their cat, Mochi, watching bad movies or reading good books. You can reach them at [email protected].
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Comments (1)

The Vanderbilt Hustler welcomes and encourages readers to engage with content and express opinions through the comment sections on our website and social media platforms. The Hustler reserves the right to remove comments that contain vulgarity, hate speech, personal attacks or that appear to be spam, commercial promotion or impersonation. The comment sections are moderated by our Editor-in-Chief, Rachael Perrotta, and our Social Media Director, Chloe Postlewaite. You can reach them at [email protected] and [email protected].
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Kourtney Miller
8 months ago

This is so helpful and well-written! I will certainly be using these cites too search for textbooks!