Textbooks cost students an average of $1,168 each year, according to the College Board and students are increasingly finding other options for their required materials, including renting or borrowing books and switching to e-Textbooks. Here are nine ways students can save this semester.
Under the textbook provision of the US Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) that went into effect in 2010, students must be well informed on all the costs for enrolling in a course and have the information and the time to find potentially lower-cost alternative sources for the textbooks, says Brian Jacobs, founder and president of online bookstore Akademos.
“Students should check their school's website for the book list for courses they plan to take before they register for those courses--this way they will understand the total cost for that semester before they register.”
Once you have finalized your course load, start shopping around for the required books. Used textbooks quickly sell out of inventory for popular courses and prices tend to be better when inventory is higher, according to Jacobs. Students can sometimes get lower shipping costs by shopping early as well.
“Don't buy books at your school's bookstore, as they are typically overpriced,” says Scott Gamm, founder of HelpSaveMyDollars. “Instead, compare textbook prices by visiting BookFinder.com and Textbooks.com to find the cheapest textbook retailers.
Check out this free textbook search engine to compare prices from more than 20 different retailers.
Ask around for students who have recently taken your class and compare their textbook with what is required this semester. If it’s a match, offer to swap or buy it from them at a reduced cost.
TextSwap.com connects students looking to trade books with other students.
E-textbooks can save students money and time by increasing textbook accessibility, says Cindy Clarke, vice president of marketing for CourseSmart.
While browsing at the campus bookstore, students can purchase an access code for a CourseSmart E-textbook when they check out and read it on their computer, phone, or tablet device for a fraction of the cost.
“That would allow them anytime, anywhere access to their course materials regardless of what device they’re using,” Clarke says.
They don’t call them smart for nothing. Students can use their smartphones to find retailers selling textbooks for the lowest price with apps like BigWords for iPhone and Android users.
For iPad and iPhone users who may or may not need the entire textbook, the Inkling app lets students buy individual chapters of textbooks.
Students can save more 70% by purchasing the international version of a textbook—just make sure it’s the right version the professor has in mind. Visit Textbooksrus.com to search for international editions of books.
After students are done with their book at the end of the semester, they can recycle the money to use for next semester by selling it back online or to the campus bookstore.
“Amazon has a new textbook buyback program where they'll buy the book back and give students up to 70% of the book's value, in the form of an Amazon gift card,” says Gamm
With the cost of textbooks climbing above $1,000 a semester, here are nine ways cash-strapped students can reduce their costs without cutting any educational corners.