5 Tips for Saving on College Textbooks

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By Howard Brady

More than eating dinner at the dorm cafeteria, more than trying to hoof it 5 miles across campus in the 10 minutes between classes, and more than showing up to find out your roommate is a goth who only speaks in tongues, buying textbooks is the bane of every college student’s existence.

Rip Off

You know it’s a rip off, you’re sure you’ll only use those incredibly-expensive (not to mention heavy) books for one semester, and there’s no guarantee that the profs will even require you to open them. But head to the money-grubbing campus bookstore you will, because you’re more than likely going to be assigned homework and reading the first night. (And everyone knows the chances increase exponentially if you don’t buy the book.)

While the sad reality is that nothing can make the it fun to scan the aisles for the 50-pounder you need, wait in line for hours and fork over more money than you’ve ever seen, there are things you can do to make the whole process cheaper (i.e., less painful). Here’s how.

1. Beg, borrow or steal Why buy a brand new book when you can rent one or get a perfectly good used one (hopefully with entertaining little jokes and doodles in it)? Sites like TextbookRentals.com and Chegg help you get the best deal on every book, and you can even find Chegg coupons and other discounts to make sure you don’t pay out the nose for something you’ll only get through half of.

2. Auction them off Lord knows you don’t need old books hanging out collecting dust on your shelf, and you’re definitely not going to read them again. (Did you even read them the first time?) Practice your urban graffiti and draft love notes to the hottie on row 3 in a notepad instead of in the margins so you can resell your textbooks once class is over. (Hint: Higher-quality books go for more, so try not to drop them in the turtle pond this time.)

3. Take your business elsewhere No matter whether you’re buying new or used, smart students who want to save their cash for more recreational activities broaden the search by shopping for new textbooks online. Lots of campus and local stores have the market cornered, which means they can basically charge whatever they want for books because you’re too lazy to do your research. But spending a few minutes using sites like Textbooks.com to look for the lowest price on those study materials can pay off when it’s time to see how much of your financial aid is left for partying.

4. Phone a friend One of the best strategies is to find a friend who’s taking the class you just finished (or someone who’s finishing a class you’re about to start). This kind of symbiotic relationship (you’ll pick that term up in Bio 101) can give you a guaranteed buyer or seller every semester, especially if you plan your schedules together and just swap materials every time a new class starts.

5. Go digital or go home In the modern age of iPads, Kindles and phones have higher IQs than humans, there’s no reason to support deforestation and injure your back dragging around huge piles of bound paper and ink. The time has come for etextbooks, and lots of schools are considering making the switch. Being an early adopter could pay off; these digital editions are sometimes cheaper than the real thing, and you’ll get the exact same content for a fraction of the price.

Save Money

You can’t beat getting something for nothing — or at least getting it for less than everyone else did. Save on books every semester and use that money for more important things (like pizza and video games) with these no-brainer tips.

Author Information

Howard Brady is a representative for Offers.com, the place to go for the best offers online. Check the site for most recent Chegg coupons and other discounts and save!

Photo Credit: billue_the_bear via Creative Commons


Adv. — Check out Peter Buffet’s newest book, Life Is What You Make It: Find Your Own Path To Fulfillment, especially if you are interested in pursuing your own passion and accomplishments for life.


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Categories: Personal Advice