While publishers sometimes seem to have captive and forced shoppers on university campuses, there still are ways to save on textbooks, particularly with new technologies. Here are some great ways for you to do so.
In order to save on textbooks, take your time to shop around before school begins so that you can find bargains and discounts on the ones that you will require. Most bookstores will regularly hold sales at certain times of the year, especially just before school opens. If you wish to buy new books, be sure to go for the international editions, as these are generally the same in most aspects but tend to be cheaper.
With services to include BookRenter or eCampus, it is possible simply to choose books to rent online and mail them back when the class is over. When needed, options to buy are also offered. Aside from helping you to save money, you will be able to rid yourself of a book that you may not find useful once the course has been completed.
If you cannot rent or borrow the textbooks, you still have the option of buying used ones. Be sure to find a reliable source and check the books to ensure that they are in a decent enough condition before you make your purchase (online sites should offer some form of guarantee). You can also find great deals on used books from online stores such as those listed on eBay or Craigslist. They will normally stock a wider supply than your campus bookstore.
Note that services like BookRenter or eCampus offer rentals of used as well as new books.
Get previous editions
Keep in mind that changes between the newer and older editions are often very minor. Check with the professor to see if the previous edition is acceptable when this option can be utilized.
Swap and sell books
Try major retailers
Sometimes major book retailers offer huge savings over what a local bookstore charges. Check Barnes and Noble and Amazon, which also offers book rentals.
Use online tools and social networks
A direct transaction with another person usually offers the best deal for everyone. The trick is to bring people together. Posting on sites like Facebook or Craigslist offers great opportunities to connect directly with others to either buy or sell textbooks.
Be sure to also check online on price comparison websites, which will enable you to compare the prices of different textbooks across a number of websites before buying them. Bigwords, is a popular site for this and can help you find great deals. Go for soft cover if they are cheaper since they will also save on shipping costs with lower weight.
If the site has a price matching policy, go to RefundPlease and enter the purchase information into the site’s database. If the price drops within the time period of the guaranteed lowest price, they will send an email with a link to where you can claim the credit for the price difference.
Digital books are also a growing option. Sites to include Amazon, eCampus and Chegg offer increasingly wide selections. While they are not appropriate for every situation, they can be just as good, if not better, than paper books in many situations. As devices to read them on improve and the selection continues to expand, they will increasingly offer students ways to save money, space and weight on college textbooks.
While selection is limited, Flat World Knowledge offers a number of digital textbooks for free (some formats are paid). In addition, legally free textbooks to download can sometimes be found at sites to include Project Gutenberg, Freeload Press and Bartleby.
With so much technology out there, people often forget a great low-tech option. Campus and local libraries sometimes have textbooks that can simply be checked out for free. With digital books, it is possible to check out a number of libraries without spending a penny on gas. Search Overdrive makes it possible to search various libraries and bookstores online.
By taking the time to shop around for textbooks, buying used instead of old and opting for the cheapest versions, you can save on textbook expenses and college costs in the long term.