As if college isn’t already expensive enough, you can’t forget to add in the cost of textbooks. The price tags on those books can be astonishing, and they are only getting more expensive. The U.S. Government Accountability Office reports that college textbook prices have increased at twice the rate of inflation. Reselling your books may recoup some of your investment, but not all of it. Luckily, we have compiled a list of ways for you to reduce the cost of this part of your education.
- Compare textbook prices online. There are many textbook price comparison sites that allow you to compare prices at multiple bookstores with a single search. This can save you both time and money. Try these comparison sites: Big Words, Campus Books, and Textbook Spyder.
- Buy used books. Used books are almost always cheaper than new ones, and if you can, find a used version online in good condition. You may also be able to get used books at your campus bookstore, especially if you shop early or pre-order. Compare prices to find the best deal. TIP: Check for highlighting, or ask the seller if the book is sold online. A book that has been heavily highlighted can be very difficult to read, as it distracts you from finding the important points for yourself. Try these sites for used books: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Half.
- Inquire about earlier editions. If the current edition’s used price is still too high, look for an earlier edition. Before buying be aware that page numbers, chapter order, and homework problems will most likely be a little different. Most of the time, however, there are only minor differences between the two. If in doubt, ask the professor or TA about using an earlier edition before you buy, so don’t end up paying for a book twice.
- Consider renting. Some sites will rent you textbooks for a fraction of the cost of purchasing them. Shipping is often free to receive and return them depending on the service you use. Try these rental sites: BookRenter, Chegg, and Textbook Rentals.
- Share books. Particularly for your core courses, try to take the same classes as your roommates or friends and share a book. You’ll learn more if you study together anyway.
- Try e-books. A recent study by NACS OnCampus Research revealed that 75 percent of students still prefer print textbooks, even though e-books on Kindle, iPad and other platforms are constantly growing in popularity. While print is nice, e-books are just so much cheaper and will help you stick to the budget.
- Resell your books. If you don’t foresee that you’ll need a book after the semester ends, try to resell it as soon as possible. Find out what your campus bookstore and local booksellers will pay, and consider putting up flyers around campus and/or selling it online. If your book is in high demand, you may be able to sell a book online within a day and at a much higher price than you’ll get at the bookstore.
We hope this list helps you save money this school year! Be on the lookout later this month for our post about study tips to help you kick off the school year right!