January 6, 2015

6 Tips for Buying Textbooks

The average cost of textbooks is $1,270 per year according to the College Board's 2013 report.
Luckily, if you shop smart, you do not have to pay nearly that much. My average book cost per semester is under $200. Last fall I was enrolled in 4 classes and I managed to spend only $92 on books. Here are my tips on how I save money buying my textbooks.

1.) Email your professor.
Often times a book that is listed as required on the syllabus is not actually required by the professor. Additionally, the professor might allow an older edition. Also, I have had professors who list the textbook, but do not actually require the book.

2.) Shop around to find the best price.
I usually end up buying my books all from different sources. Just because somewhere has the cheapest price on one book doesn't mean they have the cheapest price on all books.

 Be sure to check ebay, amazon, and craigslist. These are the places that typically have the lowest prices on used books. When checking ebay, do a search using the ISBN numbers as well as a search using the title. Often times you will get better results with one versus the other.

3.) Look for loose leaf packages.
Because it uses less materials, the publishers charge a lower price.This is a good option for brand new editions for which used copies are not available.

4.) Buy early.
The longer you wait, the more expensive books become. Many Amazon sellers and websites like Chegg raise their prices the closer it gets to the start of the semester. On top of that, most of the cheap books have been bought up.

5.) Don't buy access codes directly from the publisher.
If your class requires a student access code, don't automatically buy the book new or purchase the code from the publisher's website. Instead, carefully review the exact product you need, then head over to ebay.

I have purchased my student access codes from ebay sellers who have unused codes that came with their textbooks. I have done this for 4 different classes over the years and have never had any issues. And the best part, I saved around 50% each time.

6.) Look into rentals.
Renting your books instead of buying can save you a lot of money, especially if the book is not available used. Don't forget to figure out if it is more economical to buy the book or rent the book. If you can purchase the book for around the same price (within $10) as it costs to rent the book, buy it. You can recover some of your money when you resell it at the end of the semester.


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