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Monday, October 28, 2013

Tips for saving money on textbooks

Spend less on early editions of textbooks
Some educational institutions offer coupons

By Alex Faubel

Textbooks can be an expensive cost in college and students will often have to pay a large amount of money for one semester’s worth of books. Textbooks account for nearly $8 billion of the publishing industry, with companies releasing new editions of the same textbook yearly. 

College students have the tendency to overspend on their textbooks. Why is this? Well, for the most part, it's because they don't know how to go about getting their hands on these same textbooks for half the price. Let's take an in-depth look at how college students can save a considerable amount of money on their textbooks.

Tip 1. Locate used books

Buying used books is the way to go when it comes to saving money. Fortunately, there are many places to locate used books, including the bookstores on campus. Many offer entire sections of the same books with a bit of wear and tear on them. While some textbook stores offer textbooks for a reduced price, keep in mind, this discount usually equals out to only about 25 percent off the price in which the book could be purchased for new. While 25 percent is quite a bit of money, especially when spending several hundred dollars, there are other places to find used textbooks for an even further reduced price. Such places include eBay, Amazon and Craigslist. Students can save even more by purchasing their books from peers or friends who have the same book.

Tip 2. Shop online

In addition to locating books from other students through eBay and Craigslist, Amazon and Barnes and Noble tend to be great places to shop for textbooks. Much of the time, college students can obtain new books for nearly 20 percent off their new-price value. One thing to keep in mind when shopping online is to make sure the right edition of the book is being purchased. More importantly, make sure the book can be returned if it happens not to be the correct one. Some other websites include: CampusBooks, Half.com, eCampus and Textbooks.com, just to name a few.

Tip 3. Sell old books

Another great way to save money on textbooks is to sell the old ones. Chances are, after a student completes his or her courses, there will be no need to access old books. If this is the case, a considerable amount of money can be made back on the old books. For example, if a student purchased a used history book for $75, there is a good chance he or she can turn around and sell it to another student the following semester for somewhere around $50-60; this is a great way to make back a significant portion of the money being spent on textbooks to use on your next semester’s books.

Tip 4. Check the local library

That's right. Some textbooks can be checked out of a local library free of charge. When going this route, college students must remember not to mark, highlight or draw in the books. If they do, they may end up having to pay for them. Also keep in mind the loan period, as having to return the book right before finals is not an ideal situation.

Tip 5. Borrow a book

When possible, the best way to save money on college textbooks is to borrow them from friends and fellow students. There is also the chance that a professor may have an extra book laying around that can be borrowed by the first student willing to ask.

Tip 6. Split the cost

If a student has a friend who is in the same class, it then becomes possible to save a few dollars by splitting the cost of one book. The only issue with taking this route is that the book will have to be shared among two students; however, if feasible, this is a great way to keep textbook expenses to a minimum.

Tip 7. Rent the books

There are many online sites that allow college students to rent their textbooks for a fraction of the price of actually buying them, such as Chegg. When renting, students need not mark in their books because once the class is over, the books have to be returned. If marks are found in them, a student's credit card may be charged for the book price.

Tip 8. Look for coupons

There are many colleges and universities that offer promotional coupons to their students. By using the coupons, students can usually save anywhere from five to 50 percent off their textbook costs.

About the author: Alex Faubel enjoys writing about topics related to business and technology in career-focused online education programs.

* Image license: Dawn Endico, CC BY-SA 2.0