Saving Money On College Textbooks

For students in college, the total cost of textbooks needed each semester can add up quickly. With $200-texts being a standard choice for professors from junior college to the Ivy Leagues, the mounting cost of course materials averages $700 to $1,000 for a full school year. According to Forbes, that is an $8 billion per year industry for major publishers like McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and Cengage Learning. 

But if you are frustrated with the high cost of texts for the classes you need to pass in order to graduate, you are not alone. Many enterprising students, entrepreneurs and educational institutions are exploring the ways technology can reduce the costs of textbooks for college students.

1. Book Rentals

If you think about it, buying a book a full cost from the campus bookstore, then selling it back at a loss after the end of the semester, is not that different from renting it. By choosing to rent books from your college, or an alternate provider such as CengageBrain, you usually save over half off the full price of a paperback copy. Some students cut costs even further by renting the required textbook for a shorter period of time, like during finals week. The only issue is that no matter how fascinating the material is, you have to return the book at the end of the semester.

2. eBooks

Although still somewhat controversial in academic circles, many people find they do not mind studying using eBooks or other online texts. The student of literature, for example, will find that many of the classics are already available to the public for free in the open domain. These days, many official textbooks are available to purchase in hard copies or eBooks. Consumers can save over half the price of the paper edition by opting to do their reading on a laptop, tablet, or smartphone device. Now to convince the lecturing professor that you are not on Facebook.

3. Comparison Shop

It is good to root for the home team and support the campus bookstore, but you may be able to save a substantial amount of money by comparison shopping for the books you need online. You will typically save 20% off campus bookstore prices by checking around at a few major book retailers. Buying and selling your textbooks online is the best way to find a good deal at the beginning of the term, and to make your money back at the end. Theoretically, it is possible to purchase a $200 book from a private seller for about $100, then sell it online for $100 in return.

4. Open Sourcing

Some professors are assigning what are called open source textbooks, that are available for anyone to read online for free. Many colleges have made a large portion of their required reading available for students to read online. In some cases, your textbook may already be available for free via special open sourcing websites. If the professor does not mention anything, you should still check, especially for classes that everyone has to take, such as composition. To ace any class, take advantage of supplementary resources and guides that are online at no cost.

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