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Book Buying for College / By Kailyn Bates


From college freshman to senior, even graduate school students, we all have one thing in common, textbooks and most importantly the need to purchase them cheaply! Buying textbooks is a necessary evil. Jordan W., a recent Bradley University graduate says, “This knowledge needed from the book is priceless, but the prices are downright criminal.” In fact, The National Association of College Stores (NACS) say, “the average college student will spend $655 on textbooks each year, but with a single textbook easily costing as much as $300, that total can easily be much higher. In fact, the College Board puts the annual cost of books and materials at $1,168. Students at for-profit colleges tend to spend even more.” Well, what can you do to get cheap books?

Keep in mind you have many options for buying your books: New books, used books, rentals, electronic versions, and electronics rentals. Now that you know this, the first thing you should do is do your research. If you have more time than money, look around and price comparison shop with search tools like, or MyNextCollege. com. Websites like these do the hard work of comparing prices across companies so you do not have to.

The second tip is to buy used books. Many times used books are very gently used, or if not, are priced according to the damage done. The third tip is not to be afraid to rent books. If this is only a general education class and you know you will not need this book again, often times it is cheaper to rent and send the book back once it is due versus going through the hassle of selling the book to someone. The fourth tip is to search your local library. Many times on campus textbooks can be found in the campus library; however, you may not be able to take it out of the library, but sometimes you can scan specific pages.

The fifth tip is to share with a classmate. You may be able to split the cost of a textbook with a friend. The sixth tip is to consider the book buying strategy of book gambling. Book gambling, if done right, can save you a lot of money – after all, you might find out that you simply don’t need the book for a certain class. However, book gambling done wrong can put you way behind and cause a lot of stress. Be especially careful of book gambling if you cannot order the book to arrive within 1 day.

The 7th and final tip is to email the professor ask if an older edition of the book would be acceptable. “The California Student Public Interest Research Group published a study in 2004 that found new editions cost 58 percent more than older editions.” In fact, most textbooks don’t vary that much except math and other STEM-based classes because the homework problems may change.

Textbooks are expensive, and there is a multitude of ways to reduce the cost and prevent high book fees. You may benefit from mixing and matching strategies in order to get the best bang for your buck.


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