Saving Money in College: Finding the Best Deals on Textbooks.

With the average cost of textbooks rising, many students are spending $1100.00 or more a year on just books for their classes. The increasing costs of textbooks and a failing economy have left many students struggling to afford the textbooks they need for their classes. Thrifty shopping for textbooks can make the price of college more affordable for every student.

With the cost of textbooks increasing, thrifty shopping can save a lot of money on books for your classes (photo by Stephen Cummings).

-  Look for bargains in your campus bookstore. Most campus bookstores sell used textbooks on the shelves alongside the new books, which can provide an excellent bargain. Also, ask if your campus has any specials for students who buy their books in the campus bookstore.

- Check for cheap textbooks online. Amazon.com and Half.com are excellent online sources for discounts on both new and used textbooks.  When buying a textbook online, remember to ensure that the ISBN number of the book you are buying is the same as the ISBN number of the book required.  Many books have similar names, and by checking the ISBN number, you can save yourself the frustration of buying the wrong book.

- Consider E-Books. In the digital age, using E-Books is easier than ever. E-Books can be downloaded to laptops, tablets, iPads, iPhones, and many other digital devices, and sometimes read online. More than ever, E-Books now provide an affordable, portable, and practical alternative to conventional textbooks.

- Check with your professor. Asking your professor if there are any ways to save money on courses with a very expensive book can save you a lot of money. Perhaps there is an older, cheaper edition of the textbook that would work well for the class; maybe the professor will tell you that for that specific class, the textbook is actually not necessary.  By asking the professor if there are any ways to save money on an expensive textbook, you can find practical alternatives to spending hundreds of dollars on a single book.

- Ask a student who took the class the previous semester. If the edition of the book being used hasn’t changed, it’s possible you will be able to find a student who took the same course the previous semester and held on to the book. By buying your textbook from another student, you can save yourself a significant amount of money and the other student can make more money than selling the book back to the college bookstore.

- Try renting a book. Renting a book from an online site or the campus bookstore can be a way to save a significant amount of money. Just remember that you usually cannot highlight or take notes in a rented book. It’s also important to keep rental textbooks in great condition and to return the books promptly at the end of the year or you could be charged for it!

- Consider a book-swap. Buying one book to share between a few classmates can save everyone some money. But before deciding on a book-swap program, make sure you trust the classmates you are sharing with and set up a schedule in advance to prevent any future problems.

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