What Everybody Ought to Know About College Textbooks

There’s not a good way to get around paying for textbooks. If you want to pass a class with flying colors, then you need the required reading on hand all term. Unless you have a photographic memory. Do you have encyclopedic knowledge of every detail you’ve ever seen filed away in your mind? That’s amazing. Maybe you should teach the class.

If I had known this stuff in college, I would have saved a ton of money on books. Rather than paying full price at the school bookstore, it’s possible to buy all your reading online at a discount.

One of the best examples of what I mean is called CengageBrain. Using their service, you can shave hundreds off your expenses through modern innovations like book rentals, eBooks, and supplementary websites with special offers and coupon codes. That could buy one music festival ticket! At least five factors come into play when saving money on textbooks.

1. Textbooks are big business.

Academia is a billion-dollar industry that merits dozens of special services, from food vending to retirement pension plans, and of course book publishing. Some companies, CengageBrain for example, distribute textbooks and educational services to schools, colleges, and universities all over the world. It’s their job to make sure your professor (or grad student aid), wants to assign their books, and make use of their services.

The people at CengageBrain, and the affiliated companies, want you to succeed in your education. As a major retailer, they’re obligated to provide special incentives and customer service that the campus bookstore may not provide.

The Cengage Learning (CL) umbrella covers CengageBrain, as well as MindTap, CL Course Technology, CS Content Development, CS Delmar, Gale Eighteenth Century Collection Online, Brooks/Cole, CL CourseMate, CL Custom Solutions, and Aplia.

2. They have eBooks now.

The days of lugging around a huge backpack full of books like a nerd are coming to a close, because now it’s possible to fit thousands of volumes in a single electronic device. Even if you are more comfortable studying with a real book, you can bring your tablet or eBook to class.

Some other advantages to eBooks include interactive media built into the page, and access to all the Internet’s resources. You should make sure your professor allows electronic devices in class beforehand, and never use it for Facebook during a lecture because that’s rude.

For more in depth information please consult Are Electronic Textbooks Right For You?.

3. A+ students seek alternative sources.

When you get to the university level, completing assignments alone is considered average. In addition to studying the required texts, the exemplary student demonstrates a solid understanding of the concepts at hand by seeking outside references.

Cengage Learning provides an outstanding number of free and paid resources to supplement your education. You know those websites that teachers use to assign homework sometimes? Cengage Learning manages most of those sites, and there is no reason you can’t use them on your own. CengageBrain also sells low-cost study guides and solution manuals.

Need cash for school? Consider applying for the Center for Scholarship Administration’s CengageBrain Scholarship. 

4. Do the math.

If you always sell your books back to the bookstore after finals, then it often makes more sense to rent instead of buying. To determine your options, compare how much it costs to rent to the typical resale value. If it costs less to rent, you might as well save the beer money.

Take the 8th Edition of Algebra and Trigonometry by Aufmann and Nation for example. The old fashioned hardcover is a staggering $239.49, and there is no paperback copy available. But you still have to take this course to graduate!

Now, compare that to the price of the eBook, which is $102.49 less at $137.99. The rental is even less at $110.49. And you can save more depending on how long you check out the book. You could get two kinds of books to study for the price of one!

If you know you only need select chapters from this particular text, they sell individual eChapters for $16.99 each. And the first eChapter is always free.

Even if you needed your book yesterday, CengageBrain lets you read the eBook for free online while it ships. 

5. Stay in the know and save.

Before you checkout at CengageBrain, stop to check for any applicable coupons or discount codes. CL offers exclusive deals and discounts from their partner websites. The best way to stay on top of special offers, is to read the CengageBrainiac and sign up for the Braniac newsletter. It's advisable to follow them on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook for up-to-the-minute information.

Once you’re in the loop, they notify you about opportunities for savings right around back-to-school time. Save an average of over 10% off your purchase using a CengageBrain coupon code. If you spend over $25, which isn’t hard for most courses, they’ll ship your books to you for free.

There are a lot of reasons to take advantage of online resources like CengageBrain, not the least of which being your bank account. Use these tips, and impress all of your professors with how much money you saved on the books they chose for you. That and your thirst for knowledge.

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