A Rant About High Textbook Costs

What is the biggest shock for most new college students?

“I almost started to cry,” remembers college sophomore Crystal M. “I had some money put aside for textbooks, but when I saw the actual prices in the university bookstore, I was in shock.”

The average college student forks out $655 for their textbooks and learning supplies each year. Considering that the average tuition that a student pays at a 4-year public college is $2,900, that $655 is hardly chump change.

Where to buy textbooks for the lowest price?

– Buy from someone who took the class last semester

“I had a friend on campus who had taken one of the same classes I was taking, and she sold me her book for half of what it cost her to buy,” said Crystal. “But for the rest of the books I needed, I had to pay full price from the university bookstore.”

Get to the bookstore early

The earlier you get yourself to the bookstore, the better chance you have to snatch up used copies of textbooks that are sold for cheaper prices than brand new. Be prepared to put up with someone else’s highlights and notes on the pages of your used textbooks.

Shop online

The used copies are all gone from the college bookstore, or perhaps your professor is insisting that the latest edition is the only one that will suffice. Before paying full price, copy down the ISBN that you can find on the back of the textbook. Use this number to search for places to purchase the book online to find the best deal. You may not need the ISBN at all college textbook sites, but that number is helpful to make sure you are buying the right edition.

Sites to check for cheap textbooks are Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, eBay, CengageBrain.com, and Book.ly. You can also resell your old textbooks at these sites.

Rent Textbooks

You can rent textbooks by the month on Amazon.com in Kindle format. You don’t even need a Kindle to view them, since you can read the book using the free Kindle Reader app that works on pretty much every platform out there. The cost is less than if you bought the books outright.

Crystal, who is now in her sophomore year, has this to say, “I definitely use all of the online sources I can to get textbooks cheaper. I check them all out before I even think about buying textbooks from the (on-campus) bookstore.”

Her first semester was the most expensive one as far as textbooks go, but she says it’s been less traumatizing now that she knows where to find textbooks cheap.

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