College textbooks are without a doubt a major expense. In fact, the average college student spends about $900 each semester on books. If you are a science or math major, you may even be looking at books that are $200 a piece. Some colleges even have textbooks directly made for their university, which greatly decreases the chances of a student making money on resale. With a part time job or not working at all, books can be a real expense, here are some tips to keep these costs as low as possible:

  • Price Comparision Sites. They do the discount shopping for you, these sites include,, and others. Used textbooks can really save you money.
  • Textbook Rentals. Sites like or allow students to rent books for as little as one third of their retail price. Renter beware: it is not always cheaper to rent, buying used is sometimes the better option.
  • Electronic Textbooks. While this is new and not all texts are available electronically, buying electronically can save you up to 50%, not to mention a lot of space in your book bag.
  • Buy Used. Used is a much cheaper way to go...assuming you can find the book you need.
  • Share a book. Sharing a book with a trusted classmate, roommate or friend will split the cost. However, you won't always have the book available at your side.
  • Use an Older Edition. Publishers come out with new editions all the time. The main difference? Page numbers. You'll find a better deal on an older edition, if you don't mind page numbers that are off from your syllabus. Make sure to check with a classmate if you choose this route, to ensure book assignments are the same.
  • Check the Library. There may be a copy of that book on reserve.
  • Open Source Textbooks. While rare, these textbooks are free and exist online as down loadable texts. Sometimes professors who used websites such as BlackBoard may upload specific chapters for students to used.

Resale Tip: Even after the semester and corresponding course are over, you may still need the book. If it's a book such as an APA guide style guide, you may need this book again for another class. Personally, I've sold back a writing style guide, only to find out I needed it for a class the next semester!

Check out buy back dates at your school or list your books on Buy back at your school will give you instant cash, however listing on will almost always give you more cash--it will just take longer.

Categories: College Planning | College Savings
Tags: save money on books textbook comparison textbook rental used textbooks

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