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How to Save Money on College Textbooks

Tips for Cutting the Cost of Your College Textbooks

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College Books

College Books

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College textbooks can easily cost more than $1,000 a year. There are many reasons for the high price of books. There are also many ways to make your books cost less:
  • Buy Used - Most college bookstores sell used books when they are available. Savings are often around 25%. The information in a used book is as good as a new one, and sometimes you'll even benefit from a former student's notes. Get to the bookstore early - used books often sell out quickly.
  • Buy Online - Online bookstores such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble often discount books up to 20%. Sometimes you can pick up a used copy online for even less. But be careful. Make sure you're getting the correct edition, and make sure shipping costs aren't more than you're saving.
  • Sell Back Your Books - Most colleges have a book buy-back program. If a book is one that you aren't likely to need in the future, you can often get part of your investment back by selling it to the bookstore at the end of the semester.
  • Go to the Library - Some books may be available from the college or community library. Just don't write in a book that isn't your own.
  • Borrow a Book - Can you find a student who took the same class in a previous semester? Or perhaps the professor has an extra copy that he or she would be willing to lend you.
  • Photocopy - Some professors use just a small portion of a book. If so, you may be able to photocopy the assigned reading from a classmate's book rather than purchasing a book yourself. Realize, however, that copying large portions of a book is often a copyright violation.
Some of these tips require that you get the reading list well before a course starts. Often the college bookstore will have this information. If not, you can send a polite email to the professor.

I don't recommend sharing a book with a student who is in the same course as you. In class, each student will be expected to have a book. Also, when paper and exam time rolls around, you are both likely to want the book at the same time.

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