How to Save Money on College Textbooks

How to Save Money on College Textbooks
  • Opening Intro -

    How do you spell rip off? Well, for all too many college students that would be: c-o-l-l-e-g-e...t-e-x-t-b-o-o-k-s.

    Yes, one of the biggest and most surprising expenses students incur each semester involves their textbooks, costing some students hundreds of dollars at the college bookstore cash register.

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Fortunately, there are some options available to students including at least one that did not exist just a few years ago. On SayCampusLife.com, we’ve been raising awareness of these options for the past few years and will link to related articles we’ve published on this subject within the body of this article.

Let’s take a look at how you can save on college textbooks this fall:

Just wait

— A big mistake students make is heading to the college bookstore and buying their books before even meeting with their professors for the first time. Here’s some news — even though the bookstore shows that said books are for your class, you may discover that some purchases are optional. If four books are offered, only two may be required with a third book recommended by your professor. That fourth book isn’t needed at all and is a needless expense you could have avoided had you waited a few more days. Good luck with getting the bookstore to give you a full refund!

Rent, don’t buy

— More than three years ago we mentioned a fairly new phenomenon, textbook renting, and have seen this option mushroom since then. Chegg is one of the older businesses renting textbooks and is perhaps the most well known. Under this arrangement, students order their books and have them shipped via two-day UPS delivery. At the end of the semester, students ship their books back to the company. One example of a rental deal is the book, “Small Business Management — 15th Edition” which retails for a whopping $204.95. Rent from Chegg and your cost is $56.49, saving students nearly $150.

Go flat

— Since Spring 2009, Flat World Knowledge has been publishing books online and selling these for deep discounts. You can buy hard copy books in black & white or color; purchase an audio book, choose an e-book or download a copy of a book and print it out. More than 1,600 professors have adopted “Flat World” as their source for providing textbooks to students, saving them more than $20 million since the program began.

Just share

— If you and a dorm mate have the same class, then why buy two books when one will do? Share your textbook and split the cost of buying. Better yet, rent the book and divide those costs some more. Just make sure that your friend is responsible and will give you access to the textbook when you really need it. Like just before a big test.

You can also buy books used, search eBay for titles or simply risk not buying a book at all. The latter can prove risky until you realize that an older edition copy is sitting on a shelf in the library.

To compare book rental and purchase prices, view our TEXTBOOK section

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Categories: College Budgeting