December 18th, 2013 by schoolbound
(This post was originally published on September 11, 2013 but with the new semester looming it is good to revisit)
Cha-CHING!!!! Tired of shelling out hundreds of dollars on text books each semester? Books are right up there under tuition on the most expensive parts of attending college list. But do they have to be? Try these tips to save money on college textbooks. Go through each option for each book you need and weigh them all… you may find yourself saving hundreds of dollars this semester!
First make sure you have the textbook’s ISBN number. Always use this number when searching for a book. Searching by title or author’s name can lead to confusion with multiple versions and latest publishing, and could potentially result in the purchase of incorrect material needed for your classes.
- Use a Student Advantage Discount Card. The Student Advantage Discount Card is the nation’s most widely accepted student discount program. Cardholders get discounts at thousands of locations nationwide and online. So not only can you save money on your textbooks, but you can also save money with popular businesses, likes Foot Locker, AMC, Amtrak, Greyhound, Target.com and more. The Card costs $20 a year, so you need to make sure the price is worth it in regards to your spending habits. Most likely, you will recoup that $20 the first few times you use the card allowing you to save money on the rest of your purchases throughout the school year.
- Compare prices. Your campus bookstore isn’t your only option for purchasing textbooks. Many online vendors, such as half.com, Bookbyte.com, amazon.com, and phatcampus.com, offer textbooks 50-90% cheaper than many campus bookstores. To find the best deal available, check out textbook price-comparison engines like cheapesttextbooks.com and bookspy.net. Textbooks.com actually guarantees cash back on some textbooks when you return them at the end of the semester and pays the shipping both ways! Shopping at local community bookstores will also save you money on shipping.
- Buy used. Save a tree AND your money by purchasing used textbooks. Used copies are always cheaper than new editions. For some classes, new books come out every semester, making it difficult to buy used. In these cases, speak with your professor to see if an older edition of the book will suffice. Professors know how expensive books can be, so some can be pretty flexible regarding textbooks. Most of the textbook content changes are usually minor anyway, especially from one semester to the following semester.
- Rent. Using a textbook rental service, you could pay as little as a third of a book’s price to borrow it for a semester. Check out sites such as chegg.com, textbooks.com, and campusbookrentals.com to rent books. Renting a book is a great alternative to buying if you worry that the resale value of the book you need will be low or nonexistent. Just remember to keep the rented book in good condition, or you could be charged the full purchase price.
- Go digital. Electronic books can sometimes cost as much as 60% less than print versions. Check with your campus bookstore to see if they offer eBooks or research sites that sell subscriptions to eBooks such as coursesmart.com and ebooks.com.
- Share with a friend. Got a friend that is taking one or more of the same classes as you? Go in together on the cost of the books and set up a schedule on how to share the books. Split the resale earnings at the end of the semester.
- Trade. Dealing with other students is almost always cheaper and easier then dealing with bookstores. Check around campus with other students in your major to see if they would be interested in swapping books after each semester. You can also check out StudentBookTrades.com to trade, sell, or buy college textbooks from other students. The process is easy:
- Use the campus library. Sometimes college libraries will have copies of textbooks on reserve. Find out if your needed book or books are on reserve and start doing your textbook assignments and readings in the library. Not only will you get to use the book for free, but you will have a quiet atmosphere to study. The challenge with this method is that you may not always have the book available when you need it.
- Pay nothing. It’s actually legal to download textbooks for free. Yep, legal and FREE. Check out textbookrevolution.org and textbooksfree.org for free textbook downloads. Other sites like projectgutenberg.com offer free eBook downloads for older, out-of-copyright texts. Most of these free eBook sites don’t offer a huge selection, but it’s definitely worth a look to see if a needed textbook is available.
- Register for a free account.
- List the current textbooks you currently own for sale or trade.
- Add the textbooks you need for your next course in the wish list.
- Automatically match with other students so you can trade textbooks.
- Negotiate trade terms or payment with the matched student.
By spending a little bit of time researching other options you just may be able to save yourself hundreds of dollars each semester. Totally worth it!