Q&A: Where Do Online Students Buy Textbooks?

Answer: Depending on your college or university, you may have several options for buying textbooks. If your school has a physical campus location, it's likely they have their own brick-and-mortar bookstore. Many colleges, both large and small, have bookstores located onsite for students to purchase textbooks, school supplies and other necessities.

If your college or university does have a physical bookstore, but you live too far away, there may be other options for obtaining books directing from the school. Often, you can call and order by phone, or ask your academic counselor or student services advisor if there is a bookstore link on the school website. If so, you should be able to order your textbook through the online bookstore. Most schools that don't have an actual bookstore location will offer online bookstore services or a "virtual" bookstore.

If your school lacks a physical or virtual bookstore, don't panic. There are other ways to obtain the books you need. If you live near another college or university, you can call local bookstores to see if they have the required reading. If this isn't an option or an employee of the bookstore is unable to assist you, ordering your books online is another great option.

When looking online, you can try locally or nationally. Amazon is well known for selling textbooks. With Amazon, you can purchase new or used books. Buying a used book in good or fair condition will cost less than a new book. Another well-known site for purchasing books is half.com. This website is owned by e-Bay, but more focused on books, textbooks, music, movies, and games. You can purchase and bid for textbooks on this site. A third well-known textbook retailer is Barnes & Noble. If you live near a Barnes & Noble, check there for your textbook or visit the company's website.

Renting a textbook is also an affordable option. It may sound silly, but most students use their textbook for class and sell it back to the bookstore for a small fraction of what they've paid. Many students opt for renting, paying less money and avoiding the hassle of trying to resell their textbook later. Both half.com and Barnes & Noble do rent out textbooks, but there are other websites that offer this option as well.

Plan ahead and begin looking for your textbooks at least one to two weeks prior to your class beginning. Whether you buy from a bookstore, order online, or rent, the most important thing is that you have the supplies you need to succeed.

Dr. Beverley BrowningDr. Beverly A. Browning (Dr. Bev) has been a higher education adjunct faculty member for over 25 years. She has taught in the classroom and online for multiple colleges and universities including Spring Arbor College, Baker College of Flint, Mott Community College, and Rio Salado College. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan, Spring Arbor College and Mott Community College. She is currently an online instructor for ed2go.com (Cengage Learning). In addition to founding and directing the Grant Writing Training Foundation, Dr. Bev is also Vice President of Grants Professional Services for eCivis, Inc. She is the author over over 37 grant-related publications and a frequent keynote speaker and workshop presenter for national and regional conferences. Dr. Bev is a product of lifelong learning and an advocate for online teaching and learning!