Textbooks 101

We’ll admit it – making the transition to college can be overwhelming. There’s a lot to do, a lot to keep organized, and a lot of things to shop for. Some of the most important things (at least we think so!) are, of course, your textbooks! We know that it’s easy to feel intimidated by the textbook-buying process, but we’re here to show you that it doesn’t have to be difficult at all. Let’s talk it through.


First things first – how do you find out which textbooks you need?

This part is simple! Once you have your course schedule set, just head on over to your Barnes & Noble College bookstore website. Under the Textbooks tab is a section called Find Your Textbooks – this is where you want to be! Here you can enter your course information into our handy Textbook Wizard. Now it’s time to “Find Materials.” 



Once you’ve done this, the Textbook Wizard will pull in a list of the materials you need for each class (we told you, it’s simple)! Most materials are listed as a single Required item. However, there are two other terms that many students have questions about: Required Package and Package Component.

So, what’s the difference?



A Required Package is comprised of more than one individual item – for example, a textbook that comes with a CD-ROM and an iClicker. Package Components are the individual items that make up that package. In the previous example, the textbook, the CD and the iClicker are all individual Package Components. If you’re purchasing a Required Package, you don’t also need to purchase the package components individually – it’s taken care of!


Let’s talk format.

When it comes to ordering your textbooks, there are a few different formatting options you can choose from. Two of the most common variations are New and Used. Often, used textbooks were sold back to the bookstore at the end of the previous semester by another student. Used textbooks usually cost less than their newer counterparts and they are – almost always – still in good condition.

The last formatting option available is DigitalYou can select digital content the same way you would a hard copy.


Now that we’ve talked through New, Used, and Digital textbooks, let’s move on to Renting vs. Buying!

The eternal question: should you rent or buy?

The next piece of the puzzle revolves around whether you’d like to keep your textbooks permanently. When you rent a textbook, you order it at the beginning of the term and then return it once finals are over. Because you are not keeping the book indefinitely, rentals cost less than a regular purchase. You can choose to rent a digital book as well!


Rent or Buy Textbooks


Just like when you buy a textbook, you can also choose to rent both new or used varieties. The best way to save money? Choose to Rent Used textbooks. Simply return them to the bookstore at the end of the term!

If you’re concerned about forgetting to return a rental, don’t sweat it. The bookstore will send you email reminders when the due date draws near! The My College Bookstore App is another great resource that sends rental reminders right to your phone (download it here).


We hope this is enough to get you started with the textbook buying process! Questions? Just post a comment below!


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  1. Janette Nguyen says:

    Hi There,
    I’d like to know where do I sell used books or trade in used books?

    • The College Juice says:

      Hi Janette! You can bring your textbooks back to the bookstore at the end of the term to get up to 50% cash back. Books must include all original materials (CDs, workbooks, etc.) and a Student ID or identification may be required at the time of buyback. You can check in with your school’s bookstore for more details. Hope that helps!

  2. Gwen Thompson says:

    Can we use financial aid when ordering on line

  3. Sylvia says:

    Where are my books I ordered weeks ago? You charged me $16.00 for express mail. No where in this site do you have a tracking ability, a phone number to speak to anyone regarding my order. My class is in a few days.

  4. Sylvia says:

    I accidentally ordered the same book twice, one is a hard copy, that I have highlighted and made notes in. The other is anot email book. I just opened it up and told someone it looks like the same book I’m currently reading. I went down to the actual school bookstore and had the staff help me. They confirmed it’s the same book. My class starts in 2 weeks, I want the hard copy book. How do I return the e book? I bought both from you guys. Please help, I can’t seem to find a phone number to get help.

  5. Amanda says:

    For one of my math classes, the textbook wizard says that my textbook (PROB.SOLV…MATH.F/ELEM…(LL) – W/ACCESS) is required for my course. Then below that, it also says that “MYMATHLAB – ACCESS” is a package component. Do I purchase both items since my textbook is not a required package?

    • Sandybn says:

      Hi Amanda! You shouldn’t have to purchase both since the ACCESS already comes with the textbook. Which store are you ordering from? We’ll confirm with the manager.

  6. Laura says:

    How do you know what section your course is?

  7. Brittni says:

    Hi, I was wondering if I decide to rent rather than buy a textbook labeled “W/ACCESS” is it guaranteed that the ACCESS will come with the textbook or will I have to purchase the ACCESS separately?

  8. Shanice says:

    If I rent a book from the Barnes & Noble bookstore and it doesn’t have an access code, am I able to return it back for a refund?

  9. Judson says:

    I take online courses through Southern New Hampshire University. The textbook required for my biology course is $180 for the print version, so I purchased the e-book version for $40. The school is now telling me that I MUST buy the print version, and that I am REQUIRED to buy it directly from them. Is this permitted? As long as it’s the right book, shouldn’t I be allowed to acquire it however I see fit? I have tried finding this answer elsewhere, but haven’t found anything yet. Thanks in advance!

    • Sandybn says:

      Hi Judson! Sorry to hear about that. Let us reach out to the store and we’ll see if they have more information. Stay tuned!

  10. Megan says:

    I have 2 classes that recommend the I>CLICKER2 remote with Reef 6 month access. Can I buy one and use it for both classes?
    I am taking PSYC 2010 003 @ Clemson. Is the Psychology (LL) +access Code> custom the complete package?
    I assume ACCESS items are access codes for the books? Do rentals or used books include access codes?
    For ASTR 1010 002 there is a recommended item LL W/modified access. What does that mean?

  11. John Nunez says:

    My daughter is trying to buy used books and a access code comes with it. Is the access code going to be any good or is she going to have to buy a new access code? Should I just buy new books with code?

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