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Textbook and Course Material Buying Guide

Student looking at a book at the ECC Bookstore

Tips to help you purchase the correct course materials for class.

Bookstore Website

Visit the ECC Bookstore Website

The ECC Bookstore collects course material requirements from instructors and posts the information for students. Use the Bookstore website to determine which course materials are needed for your classes. ECC has incorporated a price comparison tool on the Bookstore website to help you find the best price. Elgin Community College owns and operates the ECC Bookstore to benefit our campus. Proceeds from purchases made at the bookstore support the college and its students. You can also find course materials, supplies, ECC spirit wear, scrub tops, culinary supplies, and more.

Buy Used and Pay Attention to Condition

If you do not need a new textbook, consider buying a less expensive used textbook to save money. When buying used textbooks, pay attention to the book's condition. Remember to keep your book in good condition. For example, water damage or missing pages will impact your ability to re-sell the textbook. Writing and highlighting are acceptable should you want to sell it at the end of the semester.

Consider Renting a Textbook

Some course material requirements will have a textbook rental option. If you know you will not use the book after class and don't write in your books, renting can be a great way to save money. Renting a textbook is not the same as buying a used one and re-selling the textbook. When renting a textbook, make sure to follow your rental agreement.

What is an Access Code?

Access codes provide access to online content a publisher supplies. Access codes may be required to submit assignments, quizzes, or exams. Access codes are often most affordable when bundling with the textbook. When you buy a used or rented textbook, the access code may need to be purchased separately.

Pay Attention to the Type of Book

Textbooks are produced in multiple formats, including eBooks, softcover editions, teacher’s editions, international editions, specific university editions (i.e., ECC Custom Edition), and bundles with bonus material (such as print books with access codes). eBooks will generally have options for different length access timelines to choose from. Usually, there are no significant changes in the information provided in each type, but it is wise to double-check which features you want and which you are paying for.

Consider an Older Edition

Ask your college professor if an older edition will be acceptable. An older edition may have only minor differences, such as additional diagrams or different page numbers. Depending on how your professor uses the text, an older edition may suit your needs and save you money. It is important to pay attention to the textbook edition when purchasing.

Shop Other Online Course Material Providers

The ECC Bookstore cost comparison tool provides information from Amazon, Abe Books, Alibris, and Vital Source.

Here are some additional textbook and course material websites you may want to consider:

  1. Valore Books: Buy or rent textbooks and have free return shipping
  2. Campus Books: Buy, rent, or sell your textbooks
  3. BookFinder: Compare book prices and shipping costs across multiple sites

When Searching for Textbooks, Search by ISBN Number

Ensure you buy the correct textbook edition by searching the International Standard Book Number (ISBN), which can be found on the ECC Bookstore website, on the back cover of the book, or the course syllabus.

Buy Your Books Early

Try and buy your textbooks as soon as you are confident that you know what you need. There are always a limited number of used textbooks, and the cheapest ones go first. 

Consider the ECC Library

The ECC Library differs from the ECC Bookstore in that it maintains a collection of books and other resources to support the college curriculum and academic research. Although the library does not generally have textbooks available, some faculty do put textbooks on reserve at the Circulation Desk for student use. Most items are designated for in-library use only and cannot be checked out of the library building. To determine if your class has items on reserve, contact the Circulation Desk at or 847-214-7337.

Sell Your Used Textbooks

Sell back your used textbooks and help cover the cost of next semester's books. The ECC Bookstore offers textbook buybacks each semester. Exact dates and times will be posted on the Bookstore website. You can also try selling your books online with other textbook websites.



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Fax: 847-214-7585

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Friday: 8 am to 4 pm