10 Ways to Save Money on College Textbooks

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College students spend, on average, nearly $1,000 on textbooks every single year. But it doesn't have to be that way. There are lots of different ways students can save money on college textbooks. Here are ten of the best.
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Textbooks

1 Buy Online

Shopping at the campus bookstore can be expensive. You're much better off shopping online where it is easier to compare prices. When you buy online, you can also take advantage of free shipping, coupons and other perks. Barnes and Noble provides new coupons to their customers every month, while Amazon offers free shipping for orders of $25 or more.

2 Buy Used

Buying brand new books isn't practical for most people. Since the books will only be used for a short time, it's also a waste of money. If you buy used, you'll save an average of 50 percent, and even up to 90 percent. Used books may be found through ads on campus or through online booksellers like Half.com or Alibris.

3 Look for Free Books Online

The growing cost of college textbooks has spawned a number of free book sites. Rice University's Connexions is a good example. Professors at Rice, Ohio State and other colleges are using the free books that are available on the site in the classroom. Students can read the textbooks on their computer screen and print off the assigned materials for free. You should always scan free book sites carefully before you spend any money on textbooks. You never know what you might find.

4 Sell Your Used Textbooks

If you are a second, third or fourth year college student, you can raise some of the money you need to buy textbooks by selling off your old textbooks. Many times you can sell the books to the campus bookstore or directly to other students. Several online sites also buy textbooks or allow you to offer your textbooks for sale in their marketplace.

5 Buy International Editions

One of the best kept secrets in the college textbook industry involves international editions (textbooks that have been printed outside the United States.) When you buy the international edition of a textbook you can save up to 90 percent. The best part is that international editions almost always contain exactly the same content as U.S. editions.

6 Rent Textbooks

Renting college textbooks has become one of the easiest ways to save money each semester. You use the book as long as you need it, then return it when you don't. Most textbook rental sites work like Netflix. They don't have shipping costs or late fees, and rental costs are reasonable. Some places will even allow you to make notes in the margins.

7 Make Copies

Although it can be incredibly time consuming and less than practical, making copies of someone else's textbook is one way to save money--especially if you only need a few chapters. If you don't know anyone who has the textbook you need, ask the professor for a sample copy or borrow one from the library.

8 Purchase Electronic Textbooks

Electronic textbooks are great for students who don't mind reading off their laptop. Ebooks save trees and could allow you to save at least 50 percent on your college textbook costs. There aren't a ton of places that offer full-text electronic textbooks for download right now, but this market will probably begin expanding soon as more students struggle to buy the books they need.

9 Trade Textbooks

Trading used textbooks is another good way to save money. There are several sites on the web and a number of different schools that offer free textbook exchange services to college students. Taking advantage of these services could save you a bundle each semester.

10 Comparison Shop

Comparison shopping is the only way to make sure you are getting the best deal. There are a lot of different sites that are set up to help you comparison shop. The three shown above are just a small sampling. Visit a few, then pick the one you like best. Then, start entering titles and ISBNs to see what you come up with.

Bonus

Not sure where to shop? See a list of 10 Places to Find Cheap College Textbooks Online

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Featured Schools

George Mason University

  • Master of Education in Special Education, specializing in Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Master of Health Administration in Health Systems Management
  • Master of Science in Health Informatics

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Georgetown University

  • Master of Science in Finance
  • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management
  • Master of Professional Studies in Real Estate

What is your highest level of education completed?

American University

  • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication
  • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication - Advocacy and Social Impact Concentration
  • Master of Arts in Economics

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The George Washington University

  • MSHS Medical Laboratory Sciences
  • MSHS in Immunohematology and Biotechnology
  • BSHS in Clinical Operations and Healthcare Management
  • BSHS in Medical Laboratory Sciences

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

  • DBA - Management
  • M.S. Psychology with an Emphasis in Gerontology
  • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education

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Johns Hopkins University

  • Master of Arts in Communication
  • Master of Liberal Arts
  • Master of Arts in Science Writing

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University of Delaware

  • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Concentration
  • Master of Public Administration
  • Master of Business Administration

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Kaplan University

  • Master of Science - DNP Executive Leader
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