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Back To School Updates

Updates: Textbook Websites and Rolling Backpacks Recommendations

Posted on 8/18/2011 16:13 EST

With school bells about to ring throughout the land, we've updated our back-to-school buying guides and recommendations for cheap college textbooks websites and cheap rolling backpacks.

Photo by Cordey

Renting textbooks is the way to go for many students, particularly those in college who don't get textbooks on loan like students in public school. The surge in e-readers and other devices during the past year opens up yet another low-cost (and easy) way to access required texts. Chegg.com and Textbooks.com remain our top picks for saving up to 90 percent off the full retail price of textbooks; Chegg is mostly a rental site and Textbooks sells books at discounted prices. In our updated back-to-school guide to college textbook websites, we also discuss some new services that could overshadow these sites in the year to come. We stopped short of adding them to our list of favorites, however, because reviews are still scarce.

Photo by LifeSupercharger

That said, here's a quick rundown of several new entrants. Barnes & Noble's NOOKstudy application lets students download rented textbooks right to their devices, although a few technical glitches in the start-up phase have tempered any words of praise. With Kno and VitalSource you can download digital versions of texts to your smartphone or computer. New apps like CourseSmart are also helping students stay wired as they study. Make sure to check out the full guide to learn more about these new sites and apps and see how much you can save by using our favorite textbook sites.

Updated back-to-school products abound in the rolling backpacks category. We found several new models with price tags under $30.

The stand-out rolling backpacks feature separate compartments for items like laptops and are made with ripstop fabric to enhance durability. (Do you really want to buy a new backpack every year?) Self-repairing zippers and padded straps also distinguish the worthy backpacks from the rest. A good rolling backpack should be like a good rolling suitcase -- some of the companies represented on our list make both items -- and that means sturdy design, lots of pockets and compartments, in-line skate wheels, and a strong handle that releases and retracts easily. CalPak Awestruck Double Compartment and Travelers Club Metropolitan emerged as winners in our search for the best budget backpacks. Check out the guide to see why our picks are special and which models to steer away from.

Filed in: Back to School, Books, College, College Textbooks, Luggage, Rolling Backpacks, Students
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