Best Sites for College Textbooks
Truth be told, we didn't find the results list from a sample search performed on CampusBooks particularly robust -- some of our favorite sellers were missing from that lineup, and the best price delivered was a few dollars more than options we'd seen on other sites. Where the site shines, however, is in its addition of an extra search engine that lets users know where they might be able to find copies of texts at local libraries. Free books trump cheap books any day.
For those who'd like to add a library search option to their browser windows when perusing sites like Amazon or Barnes & Noble, there's a unique Google Chrome plugin called Library Extension that will do just that.
In many ways, etextbooks replicate their print counterparts. Pagination is the same, and students can highlight and make notes. They can also search the text. Ebooks from VitalSource (formerly CourseSmart) can be read online or offline using a web browser or the VitalSource Bookshelf app for iOS, Android, Chrome, and Kindle Fire. The site also offers interactive material with links to associated websites, online homework and quizzes, and videos associated with some texts for a price. Using notes and highlights tools, students can even share annotations within texts with other licensed users.
RedShelf is another, newer entry to the etextbook marketplace. They offer similar services to VitalSource, and their cloud eReader makes texts available across devices. Whether content is available offline, however, is dependent on the publishers.