The Best Bang for Your Buck: Save More on Textbooks This Semester

College puts a lot of pressure on students and even more on their wallets. With climbing tuition and fees, college seems to get more expensive every year. When you add on thrive of textbooks, it’s really no wonder that 1.3 million students graduate with student loan debt. Textbooks are, thankfully, one place students can save a little extra money.

To buy or not to buy, that is the question. My answer is never buy a textbook unless it’s one you’re going to need for more than just one class. For example, journalism majors should definitely purchase a copy of the AP Stylebook, since it’s relevant to the major, but there’s really no point in an art major buying a $200 chemistry textbook for a single semester’s use (unless you just get a kick out of science). Rental books usually go for around $30 or less, while full price books can cost $200 per book. That’s a $170 difference. Imagine how much Taco Bell you could buy with that.

The next question, then, is where to buy. While the bookstore does tell you what books you need for specific classes, I wouldn’t recommend buying from the bookstore. The are a ton of great sites out there for renting and buying books. Chegg and Amazon are popular rental sites because they allow full semester rentals and extensions. Both sites offer free return shipping, too. If you don’t want to spend hours comparing prices or you’re worried you might start checking out new shoes on Amazon instead of textbooks, don’t worry. There’s even a site that will find the lowest price for you. BigWords.com shops through hundreds of websites for the books you need, including smaller sites people might not otherwise find. The site even includes coupon codes where applicable, so you always get the best deal.

It’s also good to try to get an earlier edition. Outdated editions are always cheaper than the newest edition, and, generally, have very few content changes. However, having a different edition does change page numbers, which can make reading at home or in class a little more work. Also, because science and technology have advanced so rapidly in the past few years, make sure to only get a textbook one or two editions old, unless you’ve cleared it with your teacher. Some professors do require the newest edition, so it’s best to email them before class starts.

For those people who’ve already bought books, the Georgia State Bookstore does have a buyback option at the end of the semester, though, as stated on their website, the only offer up to 50% of the original cost and may choose not to purchase the book if they’re already overstocked. Amazon also offers a buyback program, though their payment will only go on an Amazon gift card credited to your account, which doesn’t help if you want to buy gas or pay rent. Of course, you can choose to sell your books back at your own price on Amazon or eBay.

While these tips won’t save you a fortune, you’ll definitely be able to treat yourself. You could buy a new outfit or put a dent in the cost of a hoverboard (or see Star Wars a seventh time). Whatever you choose, your bank account will definitely thank you.

2 Comments

  1. I found a flyer on campus for savemoneyontextbooks.com last semester. Who would have thought a flyer would be a big money find for me. I used them and saved a ton of $$$ as they find you the LOWEST price on new or used textbooks including ebooks !!! Awesome site

  2. Great tips, thanks for sharing. It’s crazy the measures publishers and bookstores will take to try to force students to buy new textbooks (like “custom” editions with unique ISBNs that make it difficult to find cheaper alternatives – if that happens, try searching for the titles and authors instead of ISBN). Also most used textbooks don’t have working access codes. You might want to try directtextbook.com, which compares textbook prices from a lot of different online stores to find the lowest price.

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