Circles are round, water is wet, and college is expensive — no one argues with these facts. But students are always looking for a way to make college more affordable and make extra money. Whether you’re studying for the GRE and getting ready to go to graduate school or about to take your SAT and look into colleges, getting your finances prepared for college is crucial. While many focus on the cost of tuition and housing, another cost students must remember is textbook prices.
Ranging in prices from $80 to several hundred dollars, required textbooks from the campus bookstore can make a massive dent in a student’s budget. So it’s no surprise that students want to find ways to access them more cheaply than the full price. The most common way to do this is through textbook rentals. Several websites offer students new textbooks and other school materials they need for their classes at a highly discounted rate.
With so many of these companies online, how can you know which textbook rental sites are legitimate? Or which book rental site is the best? One of the biggest questions is which one is the cheapest with the best prices.
You want to save money every way you can. While there are many differences between these websites, eCampus.com is a reliable source with a positive review. So, what sets eCampus apart? Let’s find out in this review of eCampus.
What Is eCampus?
eCampus.com is a textbook rental site based out of Kentucky. (Not to be confused with the platform many colleges hold online classes on.) It was founded in 1999, so the company has a long history of providing books for college students. Their motto is “Textbooks Easy. Fast. Cheap!” They try to help make it easier for students to rent textbooks in good shape.
Is eCampus Legit?
eCampus holds a high reputation and credibility, as it was awarded The Reader’s Choice Award for “best textbook rental” in 2012-2013. It also has a Better Business Bureau rating of A and PayPal payments and is secured by McAfee. It’s not one of those scam sites that will try to rip you off or deliver used textbooks full of scribbles and ripped pages.
It also has a good standing among users. With over 1,531 reviews on TrustPilot, it still has a 4-star rating. Another good sign is its active customer service, which reaches out to those with a good and bad personal experience in a timely manner (within 24 hours). Unlike other sites, you can be assured that eCampus is a legitimate and reputable site to purchase textbooks.
How eCampus Works
You can search for a new or used book using the title or the ISBN. Once you find your text, you can decide how long to rent it — eCampus offers the flexibility of renting for a semester, a quarter, or a shorter period. There’s also the option to buy a new book or in e-book format if you’d prefer that.
You have to create an account to check out, but the process for signing up is simple and quick and earns you in-store credit in their reward program. The site accepts both credit cards from any financial institution and PayPal once you complete your purchase. You can use the same card to buy two books.
You’ll have access to e-book versions of your text for the next seven days — a great way to catch up on your required reading while you’re waiting for your package to arrive. Books also come with an access code; you should also get shipment confirmation within 24 hours.
If you don’t receive shipment confirmation, call the customer service number for help. It’s easy to know when your package will arrive, as you’re given a tracking number to monitor your delivery’s progress. Books get delivered within four to five business days.
A Few Cautions for eCampus
There are some things to be careful of when choosing eCampus. Next to each book’s listing is an estimate of how long until the textbook can be shipped out — within 24 hours, 2-4 days, or 6-8 days. But this is more than simply a timing estimate — if you haven’t received shipment confirmation within 24 hours, then they don’t have it in stock.
For those brand new textbooks with longer estimates, eCampus has to order them from the publisher or distributor and then ship it to you. Those estimates are based on the last standard shipping time from the publisher — but they’re no guarantee. If you’re not careful, you could have to wait several weeks for your textbook and possibly bring your professor’s wrath down your head.
Another warning is how much you can highlight in a rental book. eCampus allows students to highlight up to a third of the book, which is more than many other rental sites allow. But if you highlight or underline in a way that their examiners consider excessive, then you’ll be charged the retail price for the book — which can easily add more money (up to $100) to your purchase. Finally, when returning a book, use the box you received it with and add the return label they sent.
Is eCampus Reliable?
Besides the occasional out-of-stock issue mentioned above, eCampus has a track record of ensuring their books show up on time. In addition, its reputation on review sites, tracking numbers for orders, and customer service make it a reliable place to purchase textbooks from.
Is eCampus Cheap?
Regarding textbooks’ pricing, eCampus runs about the middle to the back end of the pack. While it may occasionally be cheaper than competitors, Amazon often offers more affordable rental prices — but eCampus does appear to be cheaper to buy new textbooks. Here’s a comparison for several different sites:
However, eCampus does offer some perks that make it cheaper for students, such as coupons for 5% off and free shipping for all orders over $35. It also has the e-points program, where you can redeem points for discounts off.
You earn 175 points simply for signing up — equaling a 5-dollar deal. Each dollar spent earns you 2 points, and each dollar spent on rentals makes you 3. As you use eCampus to accumulate points, you can get more significant discounts on future purchases.
eCampus also offers the option to buy back textbooks. Once your class is finished, you can sell it back to eCampus, usually for about a tenth of the price. Thus, for the text above, costing $93.12 new, you’d receive a buyback order of $9.06 (or a little more if you transfer it into store credit.) This is a great way to make your own money through the website.
It’s not much, but at least it’s enough to buy a celebratory coffee once you’re done with your finals. While this is industry standard, a few sites like BooksRun will repurchase it closer to how much it costs to rent. You’ll print off the UPS receipt they send you, ship it free of charge, and receive your payment within 3-5 weeks.
eCampus vs. Amazon
While pricing may occasionally be cheaper on Amazon, not always. Also, eCampus usually ships your textbooks within 24 hours, while Amazon currently runs 8-10 days shipping time. Sometimes the most important thing is speed—especially if you forgot to look at the syllabus until the week before classes start.
If you don’t spend over $35 at eCampus, then shipping will cost you, while Amazon Prime allows most textbooks to ship free. However, because the rental of most books does cost more than $35, that isn’t a problem for eCampus.
eCampus offers rental periods of a quarter, semester, or shorter period. This gives students much flexibility, especially for online or summer classes — or if you only need one book for an assignment. Unfortunately, Amazon only allows you to rent a textbook for an entire semester.
Also, eCampus offers an e-textbook for the first seven days after your purchase, a convenient aid that Amazon lacks. Amazon also has more limits on highlighting — while eCampus allows you to highlight almost a third of the text, Amazon will penalize you if you go over a reasonably subjective 10%.
eCampus vs. Chegg Textbooks
Another textbook rental competitor is Chegg, well-known for its study methods. While both Chegg and eCampus are very comparable in rental prices, Chegg only carries new (and therefore higher-priced) editions of textbooks to purchase and does not have a buy-back program.
Both offer e-textbook editions, though Chegg’s offers a 14-day return period, and eCampus does not offer any refunds or returns for these e-versions. On the other hand, eCampus allows students to take notes within their rental books, while Chegg does not allow writing, only highlighting.
Even if you’ve contacted eCampus, it’s always a good idea to check multiple sites to see which offers the best price for your textbook and shipping, so having tabs open for both eCampus and Chegg will help you to find the best deal.
Conclusions for eCampus
Regarding rental textbook sites, eCampus is a solid workhorse in the middle of the pack. While it is comparable to Amazon and Chegg price-wise, its delivery-tracking and reward program makes it worth the attention.
As a company that has been at this for a while, eCampus knows how to serve its customers, and reviewers tend to prefer it over its larger competitors. As long as it has your textbooks in stock, eCampus is a great option to find the books you need for your classes cheaply, efficiently, and quickly.