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Textbook Tips: How to Save Money on Text Books

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Did you know that the average college student spends $1,000 a year on textbooks? With a whopping bill like that, it’s definitely worth it to try to save as much as you can on books — however you can. So before you hit the campus bookstore, be sure to read these six tips for saving cash on your textbooks.

  1. Buy online. But be sure to choose a vendor that offers free expedited shipping. Choosing ground can cost you a few weeks at the beginning of the semester without your books! Some of the most reputable online vendors include textbooksRus.com, Alibris.com and AbeBooks.com.
  2. Buy used. But be sure to check that the textbook is in good to excellent condition. You can save 30-50% of the cost by buying used, but a book that is missing key pages is obviously not much of a savings!
  3. Check the local libraries. Your campus library may or may not carry an edition of the textbook you are looking for, so be sure to check with your local library as well. If you live in a good-sized community with a strong inter-library loan system, you will probably get lucky. And hey, there’s nothing less expensive than free!
  4. Sell your books back. Help improve your cash flow by selling your textbooks back at the end of each semester. You may earn enough to fund the next lot entirely. Even if you don’t, you will surely save a bundle on the $1,000 yearly average!
  5. Rent, instead. Some of you may really want to own a particular book, but if you don’t need to hang on to the tome long-term, renting is the way to go. Online vendors can save you as much as 80% over buying — even when you buy used. Of course, you can’t sell back the book at the end of the semester, but the savings of renting may still trump buying and reselling. Three of the biggest online renters are Chegg.com, Campusbookrentals.com, and Bookrenter.com. All of them work much like Netflix — send back your book when you’re done, with free shipping!
  6. One final tip: Be sure to note the edition. Whether you buy or rent, be sure you check what edition you are buying — and which one you are required to read. There can be huge differences between the first, third and fifth edition, which can significantly impair your studies.

For more tips on buying textbooks, be sure to check out my post on 5 Places to Buy Textbooks without Breaking the Bank.

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