College Textbook Shopping: Ways to Save Money

College Textbook Shopping: Ways to Save Money
  • Opening Intro -

    Most college students expect that their education will cost them, but are soon shocked to learn how much their textbooks will cost them.


With many books costing $100 a piece or more, it hardly seems justifiable to pay that amount for books that will in 16 weeks no longer be needed.

Fortunately, there are some things college students should keep in mind before shopping for their textbooks.

1. Wait until class starts. You may be a mad rush to get your books, but if you can wait until you meet your professors, you may save yourself some money. Your professor will tell you which books are absolutely necessary and which ones are optional and not required. You may also learn that your professor will let you use an older edition, as she keenly recalls the cost her own books cost her way back when and wants to do you a favor.

2. Skip the college bookstores. College bookstores are profit centers for the colleges that lease that space out and for the companies that manage these stores for them. There really is no reason to buy anything from these stores. Your study supplies can be found at any big box retailer for far cheaper. Most of the books you want to buy are available online, for new, at prices much lower than what your college bookstore sells them for.

3. Rent your books. Imagine getting all the books you need at the start of semester and returning them at the end of the semester simply by renting them. It is something SayCampusLife has advocated that students do for years, advice we know that many college students have taken. We published, “Kiss Your College Bookstore Good-bye!,” in April 2008 and have written several follow up articles about this option since. The bookstore chains don’t like us, but we have saved students hundreds of dollars every academic year. We like to save our readers some money!

4. Get them used. You can find used textbooks at your college bookstore, but then we already encouraged you to look elsewhere. If your college still has bulletin boards with ad postings allowed, then scan these for the various titles listed. Chances are the students who are advertising the books are asking only a fraction of what the book cost: more than what the college bookstore offered for buying them back, but less than what you would pay elsewhere. Also check, Amazon and other book retailers where used books are sold.

5. Share with another student. Why buy alone when you can share a textbook? This can work well for roommates that are taking the same class and can easily trade off the use of the book as needed. Instead of buying that $130 Advanced Biology book yourself, you each come up with $65. At the end of the semester, you sell the book and split the profits.

Textbook Considerations

There may be other ways for you to save on textbooks too. Some professors encourage students to obtain eBooks, lower cost versions of hard copy books. These books are available through textbook renting companies, book retailers and through services such as Amazon.


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Categories: College Budgeting