In high school you’re used to checking out school copies of textbooks. They usually have scribbled notes inside them, and maybe a pornographic drawing or two, but they get the job done. Best of all? They don’t cost a penny. In college, however, you’re responsible for your own textbooks. Some professors don’t make you use them, but 99% of the time you’re going to need a textbook for class. This isn’t exactly a problem, but the price of most textbooks definitely is.
If you’re lucky, you’ll be spending about 100 dollars per textbook, but most advanced studies require more advanced textbooks, and this means more cash you have to spend on them. If you’re taking general courses, look forward to spending 500 or 600 dollars on textbooks from your campus bookstore.
But you do have options. Instead of going straight to the bookstore’s new textbook sections, look elsewhere and consider these options instead of emptying your pockets.
- First, consider your online options. Not only do you have major online retailers like Amazon to think about, you also have more specialized stores. Try Half.com or Textbooks.com to find textbooks at extremely discounted prices. Also, consider comparison shopping websites for textbooks like CampusBooks.com or BigWords.com.
- If you want to buy through retail stores, or even the above websites, consider looking through coupon sites. Sites like RetailMeNot.com offer coupons for retail stores that sell books, which will be your best bet. Big sites often put out coupons, but textbook-specific sites you’ll have to get lucky on.
- Don’t be a new book snob. If you can get away with a used textbook in great condition, you should definitely do so. Used textbooks come at a fraction of the cost and contain the same information as a new textbook. Just make sure that the book isn’t damaged badly and contains all the necessary parts for your class, like additional CDs or online class keys.
- Always inquire about textbook ISBNs. Every book has a unique ISBN number, and this counts for textbook editions as well. Don’t go hunting for one textbook and find the 6th edition, only to later discover you need the 9th.
- Ever considered renting textbooks? If you’re responsible and don’t think you’ll damage your textbook, rent one from a site like Chegg.com or BookRenter.com.
- Consider digital textbooks. It’s easy to take your laptop or tablet to class and simply use a digital copy that’s cheaper than a print copy, and it also doesn’t weigh nearly as much.
- Combine the two above pieces of advice – rent a digital textbook! Sites like CengageBrain.com let you do just that.
- Try to buy off market – ask other students for their old textbooks. You can get a great deal from students who sell their textbooks outright. Once you’re done with a textbook, the only school option you have is to sell it back to the bookstore for a fraction of the cost, so students love making back more cash by selling direct to students.
- Talk to a friend about going in on one textbook. If you’re taking a class, make appointments to study together and share a textbook. Keep a schedule of who gets to keep the book and when, making allowances for those who need it more.
- Always save your textbook receipts, no matter where you get your textbook from. The IRS gives a $2,500 tax credit for textbook costs and student expenses. Even if you don’t get real cash back from it, it’s still saving you money on your tax return.
- Ask your professor for resources. Professors are actually great sources of information on textbooks. If you’re lucky, they may actually sell or loan you a copy – they usually get free test copies to consider for course material.