Back to School: Best Online Shopping Sites For Students

back-to-school online shopping

If you have a big back-to-school shopping list, you can skip the stores by doing some online shopping instead.

Online shopping is a great way to save on back-to-school essentials like textbooks, appliances, and dorm-room decorating items. While there are many highly rated online marketplaces and eCommerce websites, the best online shopping sites for parents or professionals aren’t necessarily the best site for students. According to Viewpoints reviewers, the two best online shopping sites for students offer great perks and special discounts, while the two worst online student shopping sites don’t follow through with satisfaction guarantees.

Best of the Best Online Shopping

Amazon.com (93/100 based on 466 reviews)

Amazon Student

Amazon.com offers students free two day shipping, discounts and unlimited Amazon Instant Video streaming.

Amazon.com is the favorite online shopping site for students, according to Viewpoints reviewers. Besides having new and used textbooks for sale and for rent and a wide range of eTextbooks available, Amazon also offers student discounts on other items on their site. “I am student, and it should be known that [students] are currently able to sign up for a complimentary one year trial of Amazon Prime. All I needed in my case was a confirmation from a .edu email. Most everything I need is now available at free two-day shipping, at what is also usually the lowest price I can find anywhere else.” —jonathoy, Reviewer since 2010 “I love Amazon.com! I am a student and I can always find great deals on text books.  Even better, I can sell them back on Amazon for much more than I would get selling back to the bookstore at school.  Aside from school books, I can find almost anything I want on Amazon.” —Anina, Reviewer since 2010 “I teach at the college level, and have helped innumerable students find textbooks at the last minute that are within their limited book budget. I have to admit we have run into problems: [1] sellers lie, [2] sometimes books are listed as Ohio and are really coming from the UK [3] descriptors (text book vs study guide) or ISBN numbers are not correct (again, sellers lie in order to sell an old or useless book to the unsuspecting buyer), but 99% of the time my students get their books within a week and in good condition.” —usnnc, Reviewer since 2008

Barnes&Noble.com (83/100 based on 39 reviews)

While its discount deals might look great, watch out for offers only available to Barnes and Noble members.

While its discount deals might look great, watch out for offers only available to Barnes and Noble members.

Like Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble’s online shop offers used, new and digital textbooks for sale and for rent. While Barnes and Noble doesn’t have deals designed for students like Amazon does, it still has a vast inventory of books in every academic discipline. “Try this store for college textbooks.  They can be cheaper than discount dealers, especially with free shipping.” - pinkopal, Reviewer since 2007 “If you can not find it anywhere else, this web site is pretty good. The only thing is that I have been able to find the same item, even cheaper on other web sites, even text books. You almost have to have to be a member of Barnes and Noble to get the good prices.” - YUMMMM, Reviewer since 2008 “BarnesandNoble.com has a great website for purchasing books. The layout is simple and elegantly designed. Their inventory is vast, too. They also provide many incentives for you to become a member. This is well worth it, as they frequently have sales and special offers.” - overtimemommy, Reviewer since 2008

Good books, bad customer service

ecampus.com (43/100 based on 27 reviews)

ecampus

Plan for plenty of shipping time to get books delivered from ecampus.com

“The selection of texts are great for my school, but the selection of supplies, and other items are very poor.  On top of that the shipping way too expensive, and the customer service.. is… well not service. They are rude or not knowledgeable, and if messages are left, calls are not returned.” - chocklitslym, Reviewer since 2007 “Ecampus is the worst book rental service I ever used! It took them almost 20 business days to send me a book I rented for the semester. I wouldn’t recommend anyone to use ecampus.com go with chegg.com its ten times better and faster. Especially if you want your book before the semester is over.” - agrantf, Reviewer since 2010 “Shopping for college textbooks and be a grueling task, and it can definitely take its toll on one’s personal finances. Overall, I can’t recommend Ecampus.com as an on-line resource. The only positive thing I can say is that I was able to find a decent price on a used textbook. The site is sorely lacking in products, many of which are not actually sold by Ecampus.com directly, but rather are sold through another service, and the customer service is rude and unfriendly.” - Bryan-Carey, Reviewer since 2007

textbooksRUS.com (36/100 based on 10 reviews)

textbooksrus

6 out of 10 reviewers felt cheated by textbooksRUS’s textbook buy back program.

“I ordered a text book back in August.  After a month it did not come.  Each time I emailed them they immediately responded promising me that they’d look for another copy of the book or that they would give me a full refund (including shipping). By February of  (two months AFTER my course had ended) I still had no book.” - qhtle, Reviewer since 2010 “I opted to sell a textbook back to Textbooksrus because it gave me the best buyback price.  Big mistake.  The book I sold back was purchased new from Amazon.com and was a softcover book in great condition when I packaged it up to be sent out.  Textbooksrus claims that the cover was coming off because the glue was loose. DO NOT use TEXTBOOKSRUS.  Scam artists.” - cjhst17, Reviewer since 2010

Reliability is worth a little extra

Although some online shopping sites promise great deals, “satisfaction guarantees” can be misleading. When it comes to buying important back-to-school items like textbooks, it’s worth paying a little more for books from a site that offers reliable shipping. Take it from a current graduate student and hundreds of reviewers: you don’t want your book to show up in the mail after the semester is over.

Amber Rambharose Amber Rambharose (50 Posts)

Amber Rambharose is a former writing intern at Viewpoints. She graduated from Hollins University with a B.A. in English Literature and is continuing her studies at the University of Cincinnati.