For answers and to save you a bundle of money, Action News conducted a Textbook Test.
Action News checked prices for popular textbooks using 9 different websites.
The books we price-checked included Biology 101, Elementary Statistics, and Basic Legal Research.
Before we get to the results, here are some creative ways to save.
If your professor only assigns a few chapters, check out Inkling to pay by the chapter for certain e-textbooks.
Need to check prices on the go? There's an app for that.
Using CampusBooks.com, scan a barcode or search manually on your iPhone or Android phone and the website promises to show you the best deals on used, new, rental, and e-textbooks! It also brings up coupons and promo codes to apply.
Amazon Student is a new app for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Use it for price checking and to sell or trade-in your books in exchange for an Amazon.com gift card.
Kno puts e-textbooks and the notes you take in them in a cloud. That lets you access your books and notes via Kno's website or your Facebook account from any device.
Now, back to our unscientific Textbook Test.
We looked for the cheapest purchase price and the cheapest rental price for the longest period offered, in most cases, about four months, the equivalent of a semester.
The least expensive?
To buy, eBay's half.com showed the lowest prices.
To rent, Bookrenter.com wins our test, but CampusBookRentals is a close second and Chegg is a very close third.
Here's an example of the savings:
To rent a calculus book for a semester, you'll pay $89.49 on CengageBrain, but only $33.45 on BookRenter.
To buy the Principles of Economics, the list price is $153.49 on CengageBrain, but on half.com, a new book is as little as $36 and used is as low as $6.
Cengage Learning sent Action News this statement:
"Cengage Learning is sensitive to the tight budgets of today's students and offers the broadest possible spectrum of pricing options from print to eBook to eChapters, from purchase to rental, to meet the education needs of all students, regardless of budget. Also, another key point to note is that purchasing via CengageBrain.com provides the credibility of purchasing from the source as opposed to the insecurity of buying from an individual through a peer-to-peer site."
One thing when using half.com, because you're often buying from an individual or third-party vendor, look at the seller's ratings to ensure you're buying from someone reliable.
And don't forget, more companies like Amazon are offering digital textbooks that are often lower priced.
Also, don't rule out campus bookstore, sometimes you can find surprise sales there, too.
http://www.half.ebay.com/- - winner in our test for lowest prices when buying books
www.BookRenter.com- winner in our test for lowest rental prices
www.CampusBookRentals.com - close second for lowest rental prices
www.Chegg.com - VERY close third for lowest rental prices.. And again, Chegg lets you rent for much longer.
Amazon Student App