Tips for Keeping Textbook Costs Down
Bookstores – whether online or offline, look for used and clearance textbook sections. Ask your friends and colleagues to give you gift cards to bookstores that sell textbooks.
Used Books – get your textbooks used online or from friends at school. Advertise what you are looking for and how much you will pay for it. Used books should be priced at 50% or less depending on the course, year of study, condition and heart of the seller. Sometimes, you may have to pay higher prices if a book is hard to find. But, you will still pay less for the used book than its new counterpart.
Book Trading or Bartering – Barter for the books that you need each semester. Trade with other students in your major as you take different courses. It’s easy to find folks in your major classes that have books you need for the major or the core courses because you will all take the same classes. By the way, while it’s unethical to sell someone else's published work for more than what you paid, you can sell it for less than that and you can certainly barter it.
Borrow Textbooks From your School’s Library - Ask your teacher to put a desk copy on reserve at the school library. While you can copy the book for your own use, it’s against copyright laws to distribute it to others.
Get old Textbook Editions – Many textbooks have been around a while and therefore have multiple editions floating around. While your teacher will use a new textbook with new questions and assignments in it, the book content itself is most likely the same as its predecessor. In many fields, such as mathematics, accounting and statistics, textbook content doesn’t change much. So, you will probably save in using the old textbook and getting the questions and assignments from a reserved library copy or simply asking your friends for the newer questions and assignments.
Finally, consider getting a job in a bookstore, either at the campus bookstore or in a commercial bookstore that sells college textbooks. The purpose of the job is to obtain an employee discount that will help defray the costs.
Keeping your textbook costs down is certainly doable and just takes a bit more effort. Allow yourself plenty of time by getting your textbook lists for classes ahead of time. Most teachers, academic departments and college bookstores will gladly give you that information before classes start. The extra time spent searching for used books is well worth the money you would spend buying the new ones.