The COVID 19 pandemic has upended all aspects of our lives, and if you are a college student returning to school then textbooks are no exception. With many campus bookstores closed, your offline options are more limited than in the past but luckily your online options are better than ever so here goes:

Get your book ISBNs from your professor or syllabus

This age old advice has never been more true or relevant than now. By getting your book info for your class ahead of time, you not only save money but also can avoid the headaches of last minute shopping and potentially having your book be sold out or overpriced. Every book has a unique 10 or 13 digit identifier called an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) that is unique to that book and that edition. So the 11th edition of a book will have a different ISBN than the 10th edition. It’s important to get the ISBNs of your books so you get the exact book and edition that you will need for that class. With ISBN in hand you can easily comparison shop for your book and find the lowest price from the dozens of stores that searches in any condition including new, used, rental, eBook and even cheaper international editions. With the ISBN you are guaranteed that the book you buy online is the same you would buy in the bookstore; at the same time you are more prepared to identify a counterfeit textbook and return it if you realize it early enough.

Buy Early, Sell Late

We always recommend buying early and selling late to take advantage of the cyclical and predictable textbook market. This is even more important during the Pandemic since there is tight inventory at many warehouses due to surging online demand, and post office deliveries are being delayed for political reasons. It’s simple Econ 101 Supply and Demand: prices are high when demand is high during peak back to school rush, and prices are lower during the off season months. At the same time, buyback prices are lower during the end of the semester when everyone is selling and supply is high. So the best way for you to minimize your out of pocket textbook costs is to buy early and sell late. The sooner you can get your ISBNs the earlier you can buy your books and get a lower price; if you can buy your books in July or earlier you are ahead of the game; the same goes for spring semester, if you can buy in December that’s a great time to buy. Then if you can hang on to your books and sell them in August and January, you’ll get more money when you sell. In some cases it’s even possible to break even on your book, or even sell for a small profit!

Cheaper Options: Access Codes, Loose Leaf, and Libraries

Textbook access codes are one time codes used to access supplemental material, and are used by publishers to get you to buy new textbooks. Since they are only valid for one time use, typically you won’t get the code with a used or rental book. Check with your professor to confirm if they will actually be using the supplemental material that the access code provides, if not then you can save money by getting the used book or renting.

Loose-leaf books are alternative versions of textbooks that usually come in a binder and are another good alternative to saving money. The CampusBooks search engine gives you the ability to sort your results by loose leaf so you can see if that format is available for you; again check with your professor on this as well.

Most libraries are still operating, although you might need to call them and schedule a pick up of your book. You also don’t need to worry much about contracting COVID 19 from library books, or any used books in general. The virus quickly dies when exposed to the elements and libraries and bookstores don’t turn over inventory that quickly so there is little chance of getting sick from a used book that hasn’t been touched by someone else in weeks or months. Library books can’t be highlighted or annotated, but they are free and if you need to highlight then you can make a copy of the page you need to highlight and use that. CampusBooks has partnered with local libraries to feature library results in our pricing comparisons; after you compare prices on your book use the filter on the left to punch in your zip code and see if your local libraries have inventory.

Buy Vs Rent

Renting may seem cheaper at first, but oftentimes buying used can actually be the cheaper option. Many books keep a high resale value, so the out of pocket cost can actually be cheaper for in demand books (if you take good care of your book). The CampusBooks Buy Vs Rent super bot helps you compare the total cost of ownership of your book so you can see what makes sense for you. After you compare prices on a book, check the Buy vs Rent tool on the left column to see our recommendation.


Ask your professor for your book ISBNs, see if access code material will be used, are there loose leaf formats available, buy early, sell late, and use CampusBooks’s precision shopping engine to help find you the best options for both buying and selling textbooks.

It is the ultimate cliche this year, but we really live in unprecedented times and there has never been a college semester like fall 2020. The news really comes fast and furious these days, so in an effort to bring you up to date on some of the noteworthy headlines we compiled a list of articles and subjects that really stand out.

Infections on campus before classes start

Classes have barely begun and already there are some campus outbreaks. While this might seem worrisome, the vast majority of infected college students are ok. The risk is spreading the disease to others, especially faculty, staff, parents, and grandparents.

There are actions you can take to minimize your risk of getting infected or spreading infection. Of course you already know to wear a mask, wash your hands, stay home if you’re sick, and practice social distancing. Of course that’s easier said than done on a college campus, if you can avoid crowded indoor areas like house parties, bars, and restaurants, that will go a long way to preventing the spread of COVID 19.

Colleges are doing what they can to minimize infections risks and with some basic common sense you can too.

Tuition Discounts and Corona Fees

One positive aspect of the pandemic is you might be able to get a tuition discount. These colleges are offering tuition discounts. The flip side is some schools are actually adding coronavirus fees to their tuition bills. Be sure to ask your school if they offer discounts for remote learning, and if they are adding extra fees for the pandemic. It can’t hurt to ask for a tuition discount, or to waive any coronavirus fees.

Remote vs in person

There has been a lot of controversy regarding on campus and distance learning. Depending on what year you are and what your major is, as well as your personal health situation and your proximity to high risk individuals, sometimes distance learning might make sense. Other times on campus learning in an outdoor socially distanced environment might make sense. Some students are even living in hotel rooms to maintain social distance outside of a crowded dorm setting while having the option of attending on campus class when available, and a quiet space for distance learning.

Collect Unemployment

Did you know you might be eligible to collect unemployment? Yes some students are collecting unemployment while attending school. You might be eligible, and if you are it’s a great supplemental income source for you while you focus on your studies.

College Football is Out

It’s a sign of the enduring pandemic that college football is mostly out, like any other team spectator sport. Hopefully this serves as an inspiration for us all to wear our masks and be smart so that we can help defeat the dreaded COVID 19. This will pass and one day and when we eventually do get back to normal it will make us appreciate things all the more.