Textbooks are something all college students need but the prices seem to keep going up with no sign of stopping. According to Bankrate.com, textbooks account for up to three-quarters of the cost of attending community college and about one-fourth the cost at universities. Fortunately, many people understand the plight of students and are now offering cost-efficient ways for students to acquire and sell textbooks.
The first way to save money is to buy used. Once finals have passed, many students often find those once-required readers to be dust-collecting lumps that take up space in their already cramped dorm rooms. While this can be done through the college bookstore, these books can still be priced above those found at another local store, on campus bulletin or Web sites such as Half.com, Amazon.com and Craigslist. However, there is a catch to buying used: Many text books often have multiple printed editions and publishers update these editions frequently, so look closely before you hit the "purchase" button and make sure it's the required edition for your class.
Textbook rental services allow students to not only save on textbooks, but not have to find a buyer when the class is finished. Rental program are becoming more popular on larger campuses and sometimes are sponsored by the school's bookstore. Campusbookrentals.com, BookRenter.com and Chegg.com offer such services. But again, just like purchasing used books online, be sure to check the textbook edition to make sure you are getting the correct edition.
One way to avoid paying money for books at all is to simply check out books from your library. Also, some professors may put copies of the required texts on "reserve" in the library, allowing students to check them out for periods of time to avoid purchasing them. Of course, you may not be able to get a copy if other students in your class have the same idea and you can’t write in these books. And remember to return the books on time to avoid late fees. An unpaid balance also means you may not be allowed to graduate or receive grade!
Lastly, borrowing books from friends or students who have previously taken the class is a possibility.
Written by Tia Ostergren
Tia Ostergren, a recent Washington State University graduate, “shadowed” our office’s Public Affairs staff last week.