Skip to main content area Skip to main content area Skip to institutional navigation Skip to search Skip to section navigation
Lorem ipsum

Finding Used Law Textbooks

March 12, 2010

Are you looking for textbooks for an upcoming class?  Trying to save money in the process?  Try the used book market!

Used textbooks get scooped up very quickly at the campus bookstore.  The Internet, however, can provide you with other options.  Here are three reliable online alternatives: -

Abebooks -

Alibris -


Search any of these sites by title, author, and/or ISBN to see if the vendor has a copy.  Many students who have completed or dropped a class will list their used textbooks on these sites.  The prices are often significantly lower.Once you locate a copy on a used book site, here are six tips:

1.  Be careful to read the seller’s product description.  Descriptions can range from “new” (pristine condition) to “acceptable” (dinged up, written in, or heavily highlighted) with a lot of gray in between.  Be sure that you are comfortable with the textbook’s condition.

(e.g., “Used - Like New - Comments:   Bought the book new, it has sat on my desk for two weeks. Never been touched.” Or “Description: Acceptable. Shows definite wear, and perhaps considerable marking on inside.”)

2.  Watch edition numbers.  Make certain that you are buying the correct edition…probably the latest.

(e.g., Sweet & Maxwell, 1996, 4Rev Ed.)

3.  Stay away from any listed as “Advance Reading Copy” or “Uncorrected Proof.”  These are not final versions of the text.

4.  Be aware of seller ratings.  If a seller has been rated positively by a lot of customers, they are most likely an excellent source.

(e.g., “Rating:98% positive over the past 12 months (36780 ratings.) 166218 lifetime ratings.”)

5.  Note shipping options.  Depending on how quickly you need a textbook, some sellers offer expedited shipping.  In most instances, the vendors also indicate the state or country from which the seller will ship the book.

(e.g., “Shipped within the US in 4-7 days (expedited) or about 10-14 days (standard).”)

6.  Know that you can contact any of the above vendors if you experience a problem with a seller.  Just familiarize yourself with the process on the vendor website.

(e.g.,’s “A-to-Z Guarantee” or the “Customer Service” links on Abebooks or Alibris.)

Looking to spend a little less on your textbooks for next semester?  Remember that you have some excellent online options.  I have only touched on a few.