Saving Money On College Textbooks Not As Easy As It Used To Be

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A stack of new textbooks can be costly. You could end up spending between $1,200 to $1,300 on college books and supplies. Thankfully, there are some methods you can use to avoid paying the retail price. Here are some ways to save money on college books.

Don’t Buy at the Bookstore

Avoid the college bookstore for the sake of your wallet. While college bookstores sell books in all of their shiny glory, it’s the last place you want to buy textbooks. Even the used books cost more than they should. The new versions of books cost more than they do at other places.

The only exception to using the bookstore is for custom-printed packets. Some of your professors may require you to purchase a companion book or custom-printed anthology in your classes. Since these books are bounded and printed ahead of time, you won’t be able to find them anywhere else.

Wait Until Your First Class

Sometimes it’s best to wait until your first class to buy your books. Academic departments will require professors in requiring their students to purchase the most-expensive books. But they’re willing to work with students who can’t afford to purchase a single textbook. While this may not be possible in every class, most professors will admit that you will only read a few sections of the book.

They may also recommend books that are cheap or free. While not bringing books with you to the first day of class may make you uncomfortable, it’s not as bad as you may think. The first day of the class often involves looking at the course syllabus and learning the professor’s expectations. You can use this information to determine which option you want to use for saving money on books.

Buy Used Whenever Possible

Used books are getting easier to find as the market and demand grows. It makes sense to buy used books since you’ll only use them for one semester. There are various used bookstores that are located near or around your college campus. Or, you can purchase used books from online marketplaces. It’s always wise to go for used books.

Check With Your Professor

You can rely on the class syllabus to give you an idea on what to expect. Oftentimes, textbooks aren’t required for the entire class. But it’s always best to ask your professor if a less expensive of a book is available. Asking your teaching assistant or professor for an older version can help you save money on buying the newest books.

Go Price-Shopping

If you need to purchase new books because the material isn’t available for purchase or rent, then don’t buy the first book you see. It will literally pay to shop around. Most retail bookstores offer back-to-school specials, including on new books. You can always Google the title to help you find the lowest price. When you search for the cheapest price, make your purchase even cheaper by using a credit card that offers cash back.

Don’t Skip Your Library

While you can’t find most books at community or university libraries, you may be able to find the books that you need for certain classes. For example, you could borrow a particular novel for your English literature class. Most libraries these days provide online renewals, which means you can keep the book for the duration of the semester. If you have trouble finding a certain title, then ask the library if you can borrow it through an inter-library loan.

Purchase Older Editions

Another reason why textbooks are expensive is that they’re always been edited and updated. You’re not going to need the latest version of the book if your class has course content that’s relatively stable. This is an instance where out-of-date books are often cheaper.

There are times when facts, figures, and page numbers won’t match from one edition to the next, so you’ll have to be extra cautious when completing the coursework. Older editions don’t always work best for classes like math and science if your professor will require you to complete homework from the book. The problems and questions will range from edition to edition.

Rent Books Online

Online textbook rentals are increasingly becoming common. Renting books from Booksrun is another ideal way to save money on books. You may even find e-book versions of books, which is convenient since you won’t have to carry a large number of books from class to class. If you decide to go this route, make sure that they’re in perfect condition or you’ll be required to pay additional fees.

Search for an Online Exchange Group

Colleges have plenty of online communities for exchanging resources, socializing, and studying. Doing a little research will help you find a group dedicated to exchanging books for free. You’ll have to post an ad or read the posts to see if you have a book that someone else could use. Most students want to trade, while others just want to get rid of the books they own.

As a college student, it’s important to save as much money as possible. Use some or all of these methods when you decide to buy textbooks. Sometimes it’s best to comparison shop before trying any other method. If none of the other methods work, then it’s best to borrow through your college community or local library if possible.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash


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