Where to Buy School Textbooks in Spain
School textbooks are big business. Most new academic years come 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.
Depending on the school course, textbooks prices 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.
According to comparisons by consumer organisations in Spain, the cheapest place to buy school text books are large supermarkets. However price differences of up to 25% available a few years ago have disappeared.
The major players (Carrefour and El Corte Ingles) now have considerable competition from Amazon Spain. Other online-only textbook websites are no longer around, competing against the big names is just too difficult.
Order textbooks before 1 Aug and get a 10€ voucher for every 70€ spent. The voucher can be used from 16 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 in three months interest-free (no arrangement fee) if you have a Carrefour Visa Pass card.
You can either download a reservation form, pick one up in store or order online. 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. Alternatively you can order online and collect in store.
El Corte Ingles & Hipercor
El Corte Ingles and Hipercor offer a voucher for 5% of the total cost of the textbooks. Vouchers can only be used for school materials and kids’ clothing purchased before Oct.
Fill in a reservation form in store and once they have all your books ready 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 buy now and start to pay in three months in up to a total of 9 months interest-free (arrangement fee of between 2€ and 9€, depending on the total price of books purchased).
Returns can be made until mid-October.
El Corte Ingles also accepts vouchers for deferred payment authorised by local authorities across Spain. You will have to collect the books in store and show all the necessary documentation.
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 ordered from 19 Jun to 7 Aug (one voucher per account).
Delivery over 19€ is free, no need to sign up to Amazon Prime.
Although more expensive, advantages of using your local bookshop include:
- Expertise in spotting mistakes: avoid ordering the wrong book (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. Stores such as El Corte Ingles and Carrefour will accept vouchers issued by local authorities for textbooks.
Some regions also include grants 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 to purchase the latest edition and not second hand books from previous years.