How to save on college textbooks
Here we are with another Kornberg guest post! Not only did she pet sit while we were out of town, she’s providing useful advice! I’m definitely keeping her.
Kornberg’s guide to not spending obscene amounts of money on college textbooks:
Many of you are already out of college but some of us (me) chose instead to lollygag around and at the ripe old age of 26, I went to college. You also may have kids heading off to college soon and this will seriously save you thousands of dollars. In the past 2 years, I’ve slowly learned tricks and as my textbook costs should be rising as I take more specialized senior level classes, they are actually rapidly decreasing. This is the first semester of my senior year, I’m taking 16 hours and my book bill was a little less than $200. In true Kornberg fashion, my advice is too late for much use this semester but can easily be applied for the spring.
1) Avoid your school’s bookstore and to a lesser extent, any brick and mortar store nearby that sells college textbooks. Avoid it like going in there will give you the plague, cystic acne, permanent body odor and hourly bouts of diarrhea. Those shops are the most expensive place to purchase textbooks and school supplies and are only to be used in case of dire emergency. I once paid $1.50 for a pencil eraser and $12 for a 4 pack of AAA batteries (2 dire emergencies). My go-to book suppliers are half.com
2) Look into renting books. Most school bookstores have websites where you can rent books through them or a third party but it’s usually cheaper to go through somewhere like Chegg.com. You pay something like $50 to rent a used textbook for the semester and when you’re done, you print out a shipping label from them and ship them back. Keeps clutter out of your house and saves you tons of money. One semester I rented all of my books and calculated the cost of buying them. If I had bought them at super cheap used book prices, I would have paid $830 for 5 books. Renting them cost me $275.
3) If you have a Kindle or e-reader app–you can rent or purchase many textbooks for a fraction of the cost of buying the hard copies. Pro–you don’t have to haul around 5 giant books around campus all day. Con–books are not always available in this format–this semester I only had one of 3 books available for my Kindle, although one of the others would have worked if I had a Kindle Fire or iPad. Also amazon lets you purchase rented e-books less the cost of the rental fee if you change your mind about needing to keep that book.
4) Register for classes as early as you can and buy books a week or two after finals are done. College students are not usually full of forethought and rarely plan ahead. Most of them procrastinate and if you do as well, you will pay the price, literally. If you buy as late as a week before class, most of the used books will be gone and you’ll be forced to fork out for a new book. Waiting even longer is even worse. If you wait until the day before or of or after your first classes–you will have to wait in lines and pay a premium at the book store or you will get to pay for overnight shipping for the same premium price if you purchase online. Buying right after finals are done gives you first crack at the used books so you can get the best deals. Plus you don’t have to pay for fast shipping and in many cases, regular 7-14 day shipping is free.
5) Email your professors and ask if an earlier edition will be ok to use, especially if the required text is a new edition and there are no used books available. Many times if the 8th edition just came out, the 7th and 6th editions will be nearly identical and will cost around $15 online instead of $300. Most professors are understanding and will let you know if that is ok or not. Some professors even make old syllabuds available if they recently changed to a new edition so that those of you buying the old edition can have accurate chapter and page numbers and will provide resources or excerpts if there are any passages or discoveries that are not covered in the old edition. Last semester I did this with 2 books and one was even available to rent on the Kindle for $10. It was awesome.
6) Resell your books online yourself. Usually I’d pay $50 for a used textbook, get $10 from the bookstore when I sold it at the end of the semester and then see it for sale for $50 the next semester. Keep that cut! It’s super easy and cheap to sell them on half.com
. It’s run by ebay so the selling procedures are about the same–you list, you sell and pay a small listing fee. Charge for shipping and send it off. You can even undercut the bookstore and still make more money than if you had just sold it to the bookstore. Media mail and the flat rate shipping boxes are the easiest options.
7) Don’t bother with Half Price Books. They never ever have anything that is in a current edition with all of the pages in any sort of usable condition. They do sell textbooks online through half.com
and it’s great but since they do that, they never have textbooks actually in the store. Everyone says to do this but it’s usually a waste of time.
And that’s it really. By planning and thinking ahead and shopping around and keeping your options open, you can save tons of dollars and then have enough room in your budget to buy me presents. Hooray!