Tips for Saving Money on College Textbooks

by Emily on September 29, 2011

Today, everyone is well aware that the cost of higher education increases each year. Parents and students see their tuition bills increase anywhere from 2% to 10% per year. In addition to tuition and living expenses, there are also text book costs. Undergraduate students can expect to spend around $300.00-$600.00 per semester on textbooks. While graduate and professional students may spend anywhere from $1000.00-$1200.00 per semester on textbooks. These costs are extremely high for books that sometimes students do not even open or barely use. In order to save money, parents and students need to shop around for the best prices on textbooks.

The highest price textbooks are purchased from your university campus book store. Students can rarely find used textbooks at their campus book store and at the end of the semester receive a small percentage of money back for reselling their textbook to the university book store. The one item that students should purchase at their university book store are those items that are special or unique to the university.

In order to get the best price on books for school, students and parents should obtain their list of classes with the corresponding textbooks and look to purchase textbooks online. One of the best priced websites for purchasing textbooks as well as paperbacks that may be needed for class is cheaptextbooks.com. This website is affiliated with Amazon.com and is very dependable. The site contains the ISBN number of the book, the book title, the author’s name, the book edition, the condition of the book as well as reviews on the sellers. While some of the textbooks come from Amazon.com, others come from students selling their books or other companies in the business of selling textbooks. You can decide what condition you want the book in from brand new to very used. Some students find it helpful to purchase books that have some highlighting and notes in the margins, so when they are studying the important information is already conspicuous. While others prefer to purchase brand new textbooks and discover the pertinent information on their own. The brand new text books on this site are significantly cheaper than the university prices. Regular and expedited shipping is available on the majority of textbooks.

Another option that has recently become popular with students is textbook rentals. Chegg.com is a website that offers textbook rentals for undergraduate, graduate and professional students. The site allows students to rent textbooks for the semester and return them when the class is complete. Chegg.com’s policy is that the textbooks are intended for multiple users, so students are not allowed to write in the books and should keep highlighting to a minimum. The cost of a rental could from anywhere from $15 to $40 for a semester. On the site students find their university and can then look at the textbooks needed for their courses. Textbook rentals allow students to cheaply use books for the semester without the hassle of selling them back when they have finished the class.  To increase the savings you receive make sure you look for any Chegg coupons that might be currently available.

A newer, but growing trend in education is Ebooks. Students can purchase Etextbooks online and can access them on their computer, Ipad, Kindle or mobile device. Students often enjoy this option because they do not have to carry heavy textbooks to class or to the library. Most of the textbooks sold, need Adobe software in order to read them. Apple even has an application for Etextbooks. This option is
good for tech savvy students, who do not want to lug textbooks to and from class, want the option of having the textbook on the go and can keep the textbook indefinitely without having to store it.

After the semester is over students are often wondering, what do I do with the textbooks? Do I keep them in case I need them in the future, should I sell them back to the university bookstore, should I sell them on my own online. In order to get the most money for selling back your textbooks, students should either sell them back on their own through Amazon.com or other comparable websites or could trade them in on Amazon.com. Selling back on Amazon.com is easy to do and often you can recoup the majority of your purchase price if the textbook is in pretty good condition. One thing to note is that to save on shipping, you must ship via media mail and not regular mail. The price that Amazon.com and other sites allow you to charge for shipping is based on media mail rates. Instead of going through the process of listing, waiting for a purchaser and then shipping your own books you can trade in your textbooks through Amazon.com. The trade in option allows you to print out a shipping label and ship your book for free back to Amazon.com and then you are credited with an Amazon.com gift card for the amount your textbook is worth. This process is simple, fast and gives you a gift card to use towards future textbook purchases or other items on the website.

Students often wonder if they should keep textbooks for future courses and while you may want to, it is not practical. Textbooks are updated every few years and the information within them is constantly changing. If you decide to keep your textbook, typically you are just going to end up never opening the book again, taking up space in your home and not recouping some of the cost of your purchase. It is more beneficial to sell or trade in your books and keep your course notes.

Whether you decide to rent, purchase new or Etextbooks online it is always best to shop around in order to cut costs for school each semester.

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Emily

  • I’m taking two classes this semester and spent $23 on the two textbooks! I did this doing exactly what you mentioned above. I got the ISBN of the books and searched the internet for used ones. I found both of them on Amazon used! If I had purchased the books at the campus store, it would have been $200!

    I have twins entering college next year, so there will be THREE of us in college at the same time! I’m thinking the twins can share books and that will save money! LOL

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