Where to Buy School Textbooks in Spain 2020
School textbooks are big business. The new academic year comes with a hefty price tag, including a set of brand new books for each child.
Department stores, supermarkets and local bookshops compete for the lucrative textbook market. It’s not surprising if we take into account that nearly one third of publishing companies’ turnover comes from the sale of school textbooks in Spain.
Some prices for textbooks may be fixed by the publisher. Officially discounts are not allowed but promos may be offered, so it makes sense to shop around.
Where should you buy school textbooks?
One of the main problems when you reserve textbooks in a store is that you won’t know the price beforehand. Buying online has the advantage of knowing the price immediately, but you’ll be responsable for reserving the correct books so check the returns policy.
The major players (Carrefour and El Corte Ingles) now have considerable competition from Amazon Spain. However in smaller towns your local bookshop might be the best (and only) option.
Order textbooks before 30 Sep and get a 10€ voucher for every 90€ spent on primary and secondary education books (excludes Bachillerato). The voucher can be used from 14 Aug to 30 Sep on a single purchase of computers, stationery, school bags and kids’ clothing.
Carrefour offers the opportunity to finance your textbooks purchase (ver 90€) in three months interest-free if you have a Carrefour Visa Pass card. Watch out with 10-month interest-free finance on purchases from 200€ as this comes with a 10€ fee.
Download a reservation form or pick one up in store then order online for home delivery or collect in store. Many stores allow you to simply fill in your personal details and staple the list of textbooks supplied by the school, rather than having to fill out all the ISBN numbers and book titles.
El Corte Ingles & Hipercor
Fill in a reservation form in store or upload a photo or pdf of the list of books supplied by the school. Once the store has all the books you’ll receive an SMS message. Alternatively you can order online with the ISBN numbers.
Delivery is free on orders over 19€ (note that the 5% discount normally applied to book purchases is not valid for school textbooks).
Store card holders can open a “Vuelta al Cole” account and get 10% back on school uniforms and 5% on books and school materials. Vouchers can be used in most departments until 7 Oct. Pay in up to 10 months: shorter periods are interest-free, but all come with an arrangement fee.
The same discounts are available (as a voucher) if you pay in full when you collect the books.
Expect a promo any moment from Amazon Spain in their School Textbook section. Last year customers received a 10€ voucher for spends over 90€ on textbooks (one voucher per account).
Amazon lets you search for the book lists online, or you can introduce the ISBN. There’s also a service to sell your used textbooks online.
Delivery over 19€ is free, no need to sign up to Amazon Prime.
Although generally more expensive, the advantages of using your local bookshop include:
- Expertise in spotting mistakes to avoid ordering the wrong book (they have direct contact with local schools).
- Personal service.
- Due to competition, both on and offline, they may offer free gifts or other advantages.
Check what your local bookshops can offer.
Regional authority grants
Some regions in Spain offer grants for textbooks. Each region has its own rules based on income and number of children. Some stores will accept vouchers issued by local authorities for textbooks.
There may also be grants available for the purchase of school materials. Contact the Education Department at local or regional level to check the criteria and how to apply.
Remember that most stores will accept exchanges when the school year starts. For returns textbooks must be in perfect condition, so don’t let your kids remove the shrink-wrap cover!
If buying online make sure you purchase the latest edition. Double check when buying second hand books as you probably won’t be able to return them.