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Best Textbook Websites

Only a few review sites bother with the online textbook category, but we found enough textbooks websites reviews to form a general impression of what happens when you order textbooks online. None of the cheaper textbook websites we researched consistently earn top marks from customers.

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In fact, most take a fair amount of abuse from users who claim they've been scammed for one reason or another, but usually related to not receiving the quoted buyback price or not being paid at all because the vendor asserts the book in question never arrived at the warehouse. Others find fault with customer service for refusing to address minor disasters such as delayed shipping (even when expedited shipping was paid for), mistaken orders, unheeded requests for cancellation, etc. At the same time, we read plenty of textbooks websites reviews lauding the experience and the product provided by the cheap online textbook vendors we researched.

Buying new books is a snap from most places, although textbook websites reviews indicate that vendors are sometimes slow on delivery. ValoreBooks.com takes a lot of heat in textbooks websites reviews at Reseller Ratings that complain about books going missing in transit. A number of others report that student accounts continue to be debited even after textbook rentals have been returned. Although ValoreBooks.com responded to nearly every review on this site with a promise to investigate the problem, grievances about shoddy customer service abound.

Textbook website reviews about Textbooks.com posted at Epinions are mostly positive when books have been sent directly by the company rather than by a third party. Users say Textbooks.com is generally reliable and timely and used books arrive in the condition specified on the site -- or better. Most customers seem fairly pleased with the buyback process, as well; one received notification that the book had arrived and a check showed up in less than a week.

Customers also seem relatively satisfied with BookRenter.com. Textbook websites reviews at Reseller Ratings say books are usually in good condition and shipped out quickly. The ability to highlight, the offer of free shipping in both directions, and what one student calls a "painless" return process enhance the appeal of a site that students say often posts the cheapest rental prices.

Most users say books bought through Chegg.com are well-priced, well-packed, and arrive in a timely manner, according to textbooks websites reviews at Reseller Ratings. Some reviews also assert the buyback process is fair, although others gripe that the vendor claims to have found "problems" with buybacks and then refuses to pay anything. Customer service can be helpful, asserts a textbook website review at Campus Grotto, noting that a phone call was received within 24 hours of sending an email about a book that never arrived.

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TextbooksRus.com likewise claims its share of fans. In textbook site reviews at Reseller Ratings students say the ordering process is easy, prices are good, and books arrive on time, if not early. On the other hand, several posts at Epinions report the refund expected from a buyback was never received and customer service isn't very responsive.

Textbook Websites Policies. Textbook websites usually charge outbound shipping fees on book purchases and rentals, but some offer deals depending on the size of your order. Textbooks.com, for instance, provides free ground shipping for purchase orders greater than $25 and BookRenter.com provides free shipping in both directions, with free expedited service on orders exceeding $75. Textbook websites typically cover the price of shipping for rental returns and book buybacks. Shipping costs associated with marketplace purchases tend to be higher than those associated with the site's own inventory.

Most textbook websites either buy back books or let you list them in their marketplace for student-to-student sales. Selling books back can be dicey. All the textbook websites that sell hard copies buy them back and quote you a price based on the book being in "good" condition. You can do a price comparison check at sites such as Sellbackyourbook.com and Cash4books.net and then sell to the highest bidder. Note that prices fluctuate to reflect market conditions and we also found a number of textbook website reviews ragging on about sites that refuse to pay the quoted price on the grounds that the book was damaged or not sent back. (Another option for going it alone is Half.com, a division of eBay: fill out a profile and set up your own marketplace.)

Each textbook website also maintains its own policies on returns (i.e., you don't need the book because you dropped the class or the reading list changed) and what you can do to a book while in your possession. (Again, policies generally differ with marketplace vendors.) TextbooksRus.com has a 14-day return window compared to 21-days at BookRenter.com and 30 days at Textbooks.com and ValoreBooks.com; shipping costs for these types of returns are on you.

Highlighting is a no-no with books rented from Amazon while Barnes & Noble, Textbooks.com, BookRenter.com, and ValoreBooks.com tolerate modest amounts. However, excessive highlighting inevitably invites a penalty. With purchased textbooks, the buyback price will fall or the site will just refuse to pay and with rentals, you may have to pay a buy-out fee. Sites also have their own payment policies for buybacks: some sites cut a check, some issue store credit, and some deposit into your PayPal account.

Textbook Prices by CampusBooks.com

by Elizabeth Sheer (Google+ Profile)

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