When you think of the cost of college, it’s likely the significant expenses that come to mind, such as housing and tuition. It can be easy to overlook some of the other expenses, such as textbooks and required course materials, which seem very minimal in comparison. But with the average college student spending $400 each semester on just textbooks, this expense is far from minimal. As a cash-strapped college student who is already paying thousands in tuition expenses, that extra cost of textbooks is like the icing on the cake. With some strategic shopping and planning, however, you can easily cut down on those costs. The following tips can help you save money on textbooks throughout college:
Sell back or trade in your other textbooks
If you have textbooks from a previous semester, don’t let them just sit around and collect dust. Bring them back to your college bookstore, where you’ll most likely be able to sell them and receive a portion of your money back. You may get a better deal if you trade in your old textbooks for new ones, but every college has its own buyback policy and it will also depend on the specific textbook you’re trading in or selling. If you’re not happy with the offer you receive for your old textbooks, you can try selling to other classmates or swapping. You may also want to sell them online to receive the best price possible. No matter how you sell your textbooks, it’s important to sell them as soon as the next semester begins. If you wait too long, the books you have may be replaced with newer editions. Once they’re no longer used in most classrooms, they won’t be worth much—if anything—at all.
In addition to selling your books online for the best price, ordering them online might also be your best bet. Compare prices from a variety of discount book websites, as well as all-around bargain websites, such as Amazon. Be sure to search by the ISBN of the book you need, rather than the title. Because many textbooks can have very similar (or identical) titles, or can have several editions, searching by the ISBN will ensure that you’re finding the correct textbook.
Look for an off-campus bookstore
If you’d prefer to do your shopping offline, but want to avoid the higher prices at your college’s bookstore, look for an off-campus bookstore. Many college towns and cities have bookstores that specialize in discounted college textbooks. Ask your classmates or do a quick Google search to see what comes up.
Rent instead of purchase
Another option for saving money on textbooks is to rent them, instead of purchase them. Most of the textbooks you’ll need to buy are also available to rent, and depending on where you’re renting them from, you can significantly cut down on the cost of your textbooks. Be sure to compare rental prices at your school, online, and off-campus bookstores. In some situations, buying the textbook used—if available—might practically be the same price. But in other situations, renting your textbooks can be the more cost-efficient option, especially if you just need them for that one semester.