As statistics show that prices for college textbooks have been raising steadily at more than four times the rate of inflation for the last decade, it is becoming increasingly essential for students to save money on textbooks wherever possible. On top of the hefty price tag of tuition, college students now spend an average of $1,200 on textbooks and other relevant course materials each academic year. In order to avoid breaking the bank over the course of four or more years of higher education, students must remain prudent buyers in finding strategies to acquire the necessary books at a lower price. Before making a trip to your campus’ bookstore, read on to learn about the top three tips for saving loads of cash on textbooks.
Buy or Rent Used
One of the best tips for saving money on textbooks is to buy used books or rentals, which can allow you to save a bundle while still receiving books in good overall condition. Although it may be tempting to pick up used books right on your college campus, there are usually much better prices to be found online. Using a free online textbook search tool, you can compare used textbooks from dozens of online retailers by looking up ISBN numbers to ensure you are receiving the correct edition. A local used bookstore can also be an option, especially if you are taking a class that requires reading of a non-textbook nature. If you decide to rent textbooks at a fraction of the cost, make certain you understand the terms of the rental and take extra care of keeping the book in good condition to avoid losing money.
Thanks to the advancements of mobile devices and online technologies, the majority of textbooks are now available for purchase or rental in a convenient eBook format. For those who already own an e-reader, iPad, or other similar device, going digital can be an immensely cheaper option and help you steer clear of trekking across campus with a back-breaking stack of textbooks. Courses that require historical texts, novels, nonfiction books, poetry, or essays will likely be the easiest to locate. However, it is important to note that navigating through books in an electronic format can be difficult, especially when following a lecture by page numbers.
Share with Peers
In some cases, another excellent option to save money on textbooks is to split the costs with peers taking the same class and share the same book. This is the ideal solution for students who can arrange study schedules and class meetings so that both parties are able to use the textbook whenever necessary without any conflicts. While some professors use texts as supplemental reading outside of class, others will be adamant that everyone have their own books available. Therefore, you should determine each of your professors’ teaching styles before making the choice to share textbooks with close friends.
While it is often perfectly fine for students to cut corners to avoid rising textbook prices, there are times when it is a good idea to splurge for buying brand new at full price. For the upper-level courses in your major, the textbooks may serve as a valuable resource for building your future career and could be very useful behind passing your final. In every other instance, it is highly recommended that you save money on textbooks by buying used, renting, opting for electronic books, sharing with others, or even checking with your school’s library.