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. Whether you’re studying for the GRE and getting ready to go to graduate school, or about to take your SAT and looking into colleges, getting your personal finances ready for college is crucial. While many focus on the cost of tuition and housing, there’s another cost students have to remember: textbooks.
Ranging in prices from $80 to several hundred dollars, required textbooks can make a huge dent in a student’s budget, so it’s no surprise that students want to find ways to access them more cheaply. The most common way to do this is through textbook rental sites. These companies offer students the 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 textbook rental site is the best? One of the biggest questions is definitely which one is cheapest?
You want to save money every way you can. While there are many differences between these websites, eCampus.com is a reliable source. 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 their online classes on.) It was founded back in 1999, so the company has a long history of providing books for college students. Their motto is “Textbooks Easy. Fast. Cheap!” and they try to help make it easier for students to rent textbooks.
Is eCampus Legit?
eCampus holds a high reputation and credibility, as it was awarded The Reader’s Choice Aware for “best textbook rental” in 2012-2013. It also has a Better Business Bureau rating of A, along with PayPal payments, and is secured by McAfee. It’s not one of those scam sites that will try to rip you off, or deliver you a book full of scribbles and ripped pages.
It also has good standing among users. With over 1,531 reviews on TrustPilot, it still has a 4-star rating. Another good sign is its customer service, which is very active, reaching out to those with both good and bad experiences within 24 hours. You can be assured that eCampus is a legitimate and reputable site to purchase textbooks.
How eCampus Works
You can search for your textbooks using either the book’s title, or the ISBN number. Once you find your textbook, 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 the book new, or in e-book format if you’d prefer that.
You do have to create an account to check out, but the process for signing up is simple and quick, and earns you points in their reward program. The site accepts both credit cards and PayPal, and once your complete your purchase, you’ll have access to e-book versions of your text for the next 7 days—a great way to catch up on your required reading while you’re waiting for your package to arrive.
It’s easy to know when your package will arrive as well, as you’re given a tracking number to monitor your delivery’s progress.
A Few Cautions For eCampus
There are some things to be careful of when using eCampus. Next to each book’s listing there 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 a book isn’t able to be shipped within 24 hours, then they don’t actually have it in stock.
For those textbooks with longer estimates, eCampus has to actually order it from the publisher or distributor, and then ship it to you. Those estimates are based on the last shipping time from the publisher—but they’re no guarantee. If you’re not careful, you could end up having to wait several weeks for your textbook, and possibly bring the wrath of your professor down upon 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 retail price for the book—which can easily add $100 to your purchase.
Is eCampus Reliable?
Except for the occasional out-of-stock issue mentioned above, eCampus has a track record of ensuring their books show up on-time. It’s reputation on review sites, tracking-numbers for orders, and customer service makes it a reliable place to purchase textbooks from.
Is eCampus Cheap?
As far as pricing for textbooks, eCampus runs about middle to back-end of the pack. While it may occasionally be cheaper than competitors, Amazon often offers cheaper rental prices—but eCampus does appear to be cheaper to buying textbooks new. Here’s a comparison for several different sites:
However, eCampus does offer some perks that makes is 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 discount. Each dollar spent earns you 2 points, and each dollar spent on rentals earns you 3. As you accumulate points, you can earn larger 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 textbook above, costing $93.12 new, you’d receive $9.06 back, (or a little more, if you transfer it into store credit.) 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, there are a few sites like BooksRun that will buy it back for closer to how much it costs to rent it. 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 will usually ship your textbooks within 24 hours, while Amazon is currently running 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 really a problem for eCampus.
eCampus offers rental periods of a quarter, semester, or shorter periods. This offers students a lot of flexibility, especially for online or summer classes—or if you only need a book for a one assignment. Amazon only allows you to rent a textbook for an entire semester.
Also, eCampus offers an e-textbook for the first 7 days after your purchase, a convenient aid which 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 fairly 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 any writing, only highlighting.
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
When it comes to rental textbook sites, eCampus is a solid workhorse in the middle of the pack. While it is comparable both 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 textbooks you need for your classes cheaply, easily, and quickly.