How to Save on College Textbooks
New Books and Used Books and e-Books! Oh My!
This past year, I found two great ways to save money on college textbooks. The first is with Half.eBay.com. This is a branch of eBay where shoppers can find textbooks often for only a few dollars each. The second option is to obtain a copy of the books you need from the campus or local library. Even if the branch near you does not own the books you need, they can obtain them through inter-library loan programs at no cost to you. This past year alone, I saved $300 compared to my campus bookstore's prices. Does anyone have any other sources to try?
When I was in undergrad, I went to one of what I believe was only two universities in the country that actually rented their college textbooks as part of your tuition. Needless to say, when I headed off to chiropractic school, I was in for a serious case of sticker shock at the price of books.
I caught on quickly that while the books cost a fortune to buy, the stores didn't pay much for the books when you went to resell them. I bought my books for just a little more than the store was paying from people who had just taken the class. It was pretty easy too. I basically waited outside of the class I was taking next semester and asked people coming out if they would sell me their book.
My other trick I caught onto was when they used the "new version" of the book. The changes often times didn't matter to me. Sometimes it was as small as updating the references. In those cases, I would just buy the "old" book. To be very honest, I can't think of a single time I didn't buy a book in one of these two ways. I would even wing it with the older book most of the time because usually with the notes, I didn't miss much.
We've had great success using Chegg.com to rent textbooks for our son. They have always had the books we needed, and it's very simple to use and return the books once finished. Also, they are less expensive than renting books from the university itself.
Joan H. in Wilmington, DE
I used Half.com, Amazon.com (and looked at the used section), and BarnesandNoble.com (also the used section) to get books. Simply search for the book, and the listing should include new, used, and rental options. Be aware that often when buying used books, the seller will use USPS media mail, which significantly adds to shipping time. Order your books well in advance (I liked to allow at least two weeks), so that you have the books before you start the class.
You can also rent college textbooks for your Kindle (and probably for the Nook, as well), which is especially useful because you can then search the book. Consider traditional textbook rentals. There are many rental sites, some of which can be found here.
Last year, Chegg.com had a promotion for one free rental with no strings attached. They send a pre-paid return mailer, and when it's the end of the semester, you just return the book without the hassle of figuring out your own packaging and shipping.
Many colleges also have some sort of a book selling/trading program where students can post books they no longer need for others to buy.
Also, keep in mind that you may want to keep some of your books (especially if you might need the same book for a later class, which happens with nursing, for example), so looking for a cheap way to own them may be in your best interest.
Know what ISBN your college textbook has; each number is unique to the book and its edition. The same text will have a different ISBN for paperback and hardcover. The number should be available from the college bookstore or bookstore website. It is also found on the verso (front page) of the textbook where you see copyright, publication year and company, and other information. Once you know the ISBN, you can shop where you like for the lowest price and be sure you are purchasing the correct text for your class.
Clare (former librarian)
I belong to PaperBackSwap.com and have gotten college textbooks from them.
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