The costs associated with higher education have skyrocketed in recent years, making everything from tuition to textbooks more difficult to afford. Because of the rising costs of textbooks and our ever-present reliance on the internet, online alternatives are also on the rise. This TextbookRush review will show you how you can save money on textbooks, and will examine whether TextbookRush is the best alternative to a traditional campus bookstore.
Why Buy Textbooks Online?
College continues to become less affordable for students and their families, and textbooks are no exception. According to a 2014 study from U.S. Public Interest Research Group, the average student pays $1,200 per year for textbooks, and that about 65% of students have opted out of purchasing a textbook because of the cost. Unfortunately, most of those students did so with the knowledge that declining to purchase the textbook might have a negative impact on their grade for a class.
Campus bookstores are no longer the most affordable means of purchasing college textbooks, and online marketplaces are stepping in to provide more cost-effective options to buy, rent, and sell textbooks online.
What is TextbookRush?
TextbookRush is an online one-stop-shop for students to buy, rent, or sell textbooks, and is one of the biggest names in the game. What started as a brick-and-mortar store in 1994 is now an online marketplace serving students all across the country. In this Textbookrush review, we’ll be looking at the features, pros, and cons of this service.
“TextbookRush is all about helping students achieve the education they want and deserve. We sell books at seriously low prices, as well as textbook rentals for those one-and-done classes.” – TextbookRush.com
Rather than buying textbooks through your campus bookstore, TextbookRush allows you to save money by purchasing books on their website instead. According to their website, they have over 15 million titles for sale. You can buy a new copy, or save even more (and be more environmentally friendly) by purchasing a used copy.
Renting textbooks is a great option for those one-off classes where you know you won’t need the textbook again. TextbookRush claims you can save up to 90% by renting instead of buying.
You have the same benefits as with buying such as free shipping over $35 and a 30-day return policy. You can extend your rental, or if you decide you’ll need the textbook again after all, you can purchase it at any time. Plus, return shipping on rentals is free!
One thing to keep in mind with renting versus buying is that they require books to be returned in good condition. According to their policies page, TextbookRush requires that “highlighting, writing, or note taking in your books be very limited”. That’s certainly open to interpretation, but if you’re someone who takes a lot of notes in your textbooks, renting may not be right for you, since you’ll be charged a fee for excessive markings.
So, the semester is over and you don’t need your textbooks anymore? TextbookRush can help with that. They’ll give you a quote and pay you via cash, PayPal, or store credit for your used textbooks. TextbookRush makes this step even easier by offering a mobile app where you scan the barcode on your textbook and it will give you your quote right away.
If you know you’ll be buying textbooks again in the future, store credit is the way to go because you’ll get more money for your textbook.
It turns out, the international editions of textbooks are often a lot cheaper than their American counterparts (up to 80%, according to the TextbookRush website). TextbookRush offers this option as a means of helping you save even more money. The content is exactly the same as the American edition, you still get the same shipping and return options, but you’ll save up to 90% on your purchase through TextbookRush.
In a more recent addition to TextbookRush, eBooks are now available for purchase and rental as well. First of all, this has the benefit of being even more cost-effective. The TextbookRush website touts an additional savings of up to 60% if you go the eBook route. Additionally, eBooks are easier to manage, as you don’t have to carry around a large stack of textbooks. Finally, there’s the added benefit of eBooks being more environmentally friendly.
The one big downside is that TextbookRush only has 600,000 titles available on eBook, compared to 15 million for physical books. However, they claim more eBook titles are being added all the time.
Rather than selling books to TextbookRush, they also have what is called the Marketplace, which allows anyone to list their books for sale and sell your books directly to the buyer.
There are certainly upsides and downsides to this. The upside as a seller is that you’ll be able to set your price, meaning you may be able to get more from an individual than you would from TextbookRush. Just keep in mind the commission TextbookRush will take (15% or 15 cents per item, whichever is larger).
One downside as a buyer is that these books aren’t included in the money-back guarantee. I also see that on their customer service page, TextbookRush claims they don’t service buyers who purchased from the Marketplace.
One of the biggest downsides to shopping online is often the shipping costs. However, TextbookRush offers free shipping on any purchase over $35.
If you aren’t satisfied with your purchase, TextbookRush offers a full money-back guarantee within 30 days of your purchase, no questions asked. This will come in handy if you end up dropping a class!
More Selling Options
Not only does TextbookRush buy back your used textbooks, but they’ll also buy movies and video games. Most college students are regularly looking for ways to make a little extra money, so this is a great additional feature.
Responsive Customer Support
If you need to contact customer support, you’re definitely in luck. TextbookRush has multiple options available for customer support, including email and live chat. Their live chat is available only Monday-Friday from 10 AM – 4 PM, but they promise to respond to all emails with one business day.
By far the biggest downside to TextbookRush seems to be the number of poor reviews and customer complaints readily available online. In fact, there seem to be more negative reviews about the company than positive ones.
Despite being an accredited BBB Business, the Better Business Bureau shows 200 customer complaints in the last three years, with 58 of those being just being within the last 12 months.
One caveat to add is that many of the poor customer reviews seem to be from individuals who purchased from the Marketplace and therefore aren’t actually purchasing their books from TextbookRush. As noted above, TextbookRush customer service and money-back guarantee only apply to those who purchase directly from TextbookRush, not from the Marketplace.
TextbookRush isn’t the only company in the game. It’s worth noting that there are a lot of companies that allow you to buy, rent, and sell textbooks at a better rate. While TextbookRush has a lot of benefits, even some you may not find with other companies, it’s worth mentioning a few of the competitors as well.
It’s no surprise that when we think of buying affordable books online, Amazon comes to mind. The company allows you to buy or rent textbooks at a discounted rate. For books that you’ve purchased, you can trade them in to get your books for the next semester.
Amazon doesn’t offer free shipping for everyone, but Prime members will get free two-day shipping, and college students get a discount on Prime. Amazon also has the benefit of being a name that most people already know and trust.
Like TextbookRush, Valore Books allows you to buy, rent, or sell textbooks and save money instead of going the traditional route of buying from your campus bookstore.
The biggest downside to Valore Books seems to be that, unlike TextbookRush, the company does not offer free shipping. Shipping for books purchased or rented starts at $3.95, and shipping can take anywhere from 4-14 business days, according to their website.
Another option for buying, renting, and selling textbooks is Chegg. Like TextbookRush, Chegg offers free shipping on orders of $35 or more. They have a slightly shorter money-back guarantee than TextbookRush at 21 days.
Another cool feature of Chegg that is missing from other providers is that when you rent or buy a physical book from Chegg, you’ll have one week of free access to the digital version while you wait for your book to arrive.
Chegg also offers tutoring. You can check out the review here.
Campus Book Rental
Campus Book Rental is an alternative to TextbookRush if you know you’re planning to rent your textbooks. Though they have fewer options than other textbook providers, they have a few benefits as well.
First of all, you can highlight and write in your textbooks all you want, which many other marketplaces discourage. You’re also able to choose your own rental period. Finally, Campus Book Rental has 24-hour live customer support. While their services are limited since they only rent rather than buy and sell textbooks, a more niche service can sometimes mean they do one thing really well.
Half Priced Books
You’ve probably already heard of Half Priced Books as a means of purchasing discounted books online. Well, they also sell textbooks. You can also turn around and sell them again at the end of the semester. Similar to TextbookRush, Half Priced Books offers international editions so you can save even more money. They also provide information on the quality of the book so you can ensure you’re buying a book in good condition.
CampusBooks puts a bit of a different spin on textbook purchase and rental, as they don’t actually sell or rent out textbooks. Instead, you type in the textbook you’re looking for, and they’ll show you the price across all the bookstores in their system. Right now they have over 20 marketplaces in their directory, so you know you’re getting a good price.
The other big advantage to CampusBooks is that they also check local libraries. Meaning that if your local city library has the textbook you’re looking for, you may be able to rent it for free rather than paying to buy or rent it elsewhere.
AbeBooks is another name that comes up again and again when you’re looking for discounted textbooks online. They’ve been around a long time and definitely seem to know what they’re doing.
Some of the advantages of AbeBooks include free shipping on certain titles and a collection of rare books. Like TextbookRush, they also include international editions for an even more discounted rate. One of the big downsides you’ll find with AbeBooks is that you don’t have the option to rent.
Similar to TextbookRush, eCampus allows you to buy, rent, or sell textbooks (including eBooks). Similar to TextbookRush, they offer free shipping on orders $35 or more. Their money-back guarantee isn’t quite as long though, at only 25 days compared to the TextbookRush 30-day guarantee.
Textbooks.com is a company geared toward buying and selling textbooks. Like TextbookRush, they tout 90% savings on their textbooks. They also match the TextbookRush 30-day return policy.
Where they beat TextbookRush is their free shipping. While TextbookRush offers free shipping on orders of $35 or more, Textbooks.com free shipping applies to orders of $25 or more.
Textbooks.com falls short in a few areas, however. They only have 10 million titles compared to TextbookRush’s 15 million, meaning their selection is a bit smaller. They also don’t give you the option of renting textbooks to save even more money.
How TextbookRush Compares
There are a lot of options to choose between when deciding where to get discounted textbooks for the upcoming semester. The decision can understandably be a little overwhelming with so many choices. To make your choice a little easier, here’s a quick breakdown of how TextbookRush compares to the competition:
Where TextbookRush Wins
TextbookRush has a leg up on the competition in quite a few areas. First up is the number of titles they have. With about 15 million titles available, it would be hard to not find what you’re looking with TextbookRush.
Next, they have some of the largest variety of options available. Most of the options available allow you to buy, rent, or sell physical books. However, TextbookRush allows you to buy and rent eBooks, which isn’t an option available everywhere yet. Even more unique is the ability to opt for international editions and save even more money.
Additionally, TextbookRush also has one of the more generous shipping policies, with free shipping on any orders over $35.
Finally, TextbookRush has one of the most generous return policies. Their 30-day money-back guarantee beats almost every competitor. The best part is, there are no questions asked. You don’t have to explain why you’re returning the book. So if you dropped the class or simply found the book for a better price elsewhere, you’re covered.
Where TextbookRush Loses
The biggest downside to TextbookRush seems to be the number of complaints and poor reviews online. Students may be skeptical to purchase from a company with more negative reviews than positive reviews. However, there are definitely some users online who had a great experience with TextbookRush. Since the experiences tend to be very different across the board, take any review with a grain of salt.
Another thing to note is that online reviews appear to be hit and miss across many of the textbook websites listed in this article. Because of that, I wouldn’t let the negative reviews of TextbookRush scare you off without further research.
Should you decide to purchase from TextbookRush, purchasing from the company and not from the Marketplace will ensure you have full access to TextbookRush customer service and money-back guarantee.
The cost of textbooks has grown immensely over recent years, and it continues to be a burden for students and their families (note – check out these other tips for making college more affordable). Luckily, more online options are becoming available for students to buy and rent textbooks at a discounted rate.
At this point, it’s pretty sure bet that your school’s traditional campus bookstore is not the most cost-effective way of getting your textbooks for the new semester!
There are a lot of options available for discounted textbooks to buy or rent, and TextbookRush is definitely one worth checking out. They have pros and cons like any business, but definitely beat out the competition in a number of areas. If you’re looking to save money on textbooks, make sure to check them out!
You can check out TextbookRush here! How do you save on textbooks? Let us know in the comments.