Tips For Saving Money On Textbooks

The second half of summer is “complain about textbook prices” season, and last week the New York Times put together a special section on the topic and asked experts to weigh in. Too many of the contributors just provide an overview of the situation but no solutions; a publishing industry representative actually defends textbook prices as trivial compared to other educational costs. Fortunately Anya Kamenetz, who writes for Fast Company, suggests Flat World Knowledge. And to be fair, the guy who defended textbooks prices suggests CourseSmart for ebook rentals. The Times also asked students, professors and parents to weigh in with advice.

Here’s your chance to help out other readers. What are some good places to buy textbooks on the cheap? And what are some other strategies that worked for you to avoid paying through the nose for textbooks?

“Getting Around Textbook Sticker Shock” [New York Times]

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  1. KTK1990 says:

    Sometimes you cant get them other places, which stinks.

    Two of my items I need to buy for a class are custom for the school. But they are just $88.75. Instead of the crazy $182 for an algebra book that doesn’t show any numbers for me to look at the other places for it.

    • coren says:

      Doh I knew i left one out of my post – talk to the professor. They know what books they ordered, even if it came as a pack, so they have the information on what made up the pack. They may not want to give out the info (the shit’s in a pack for a reason and they may have had something to do with that) but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

      • KTK1990 says:

        Thanks.

        I actually am taking all online classes at a community college, and don’t see the main professor’s name. I ended up going to a book resell place right across the street to the school bookstore. Got a $180 (Price used!!!) book they were selling at the school store, for $110 including a online access code the school sold for $90.

  2. pb5000 says:

    I have a lot of luck with coursesmart, also done a few international editions which worked well.

    • pb5000 says:

      that would be “I’ve had” not I have, dur

    • chemmy says:

      I’ve also purchased older editions. My last physics class wanted the 6th edition which was literally just printed a week before school started (and $280). I purchased a highlighted 3rd edition on eBay for $5 including shipping. When I compared with a classmate’s book, the only discernible difference was that the questions at the ends of the chapters were in different orders.

      • pb5000 says:

        yes, I’ve been able to do the same thing as well but wouldn’t recommend it if you don’t have a friend in the class who is willing to let you compare the new edition to the one you bought. That way you can make note of the changes. I’ve had some where the old edition had chapters in different orders, so the professor would say read chapter 5, you had to know that your “chapter 5″ was actually chapter 4 in the old edition.

  3. Shadowfire says:

    I always end up using Amazon, but my school gives me the ISBN number along with the title so I know exactly what I’m buying.

    • Azzizzi says:

      Yep, I think I saved probably $75 a class by entering the ISBN on Amazon and ordering my books from there. Plus, if I paid extra for quicker shipping, it would actually get to me sooner, unlike the school bookstore.

  4. Rocket says:

    I make my own textbooks at home? No, but really, Amazon (with my free Amazon Prime (Amazon Student)) should be much cheaper than the college bookstore (which is owned my Barnes & Noble).

  5. MrsLopsided says:

    I’d like more insight on professor’s decision processes. What the h-e-double-hockey-sticks were they thinking? Was it all about the buxom text book sales rep who gave him a $20 Starbucks card?

    • goodfellow_puck says:

      No, it’s about the school which gets money from it and sometimes requires teachers to have required texts. My last two years of college the “required texts” were almost never used in class and some profs straight-up told us they HAD to put something down or get in trouble.

      • Saltpork says:

        Same here. I’ve had classes where all of our assigned work and materials are online sources, but the teacher said that they had to put down a traditional text and that we as students will not be using it at all. The professors couldn’t tell us to return the books or sell them, but 90% of us did.

    • burnedout says:

      Text reps give gifts? I’d like in on that, because I’ve been teaching for five years now and usually have to beg for a preview copy…

      TEXTBOOK PRICES ARE NOT THE PROFESSORS’ FAULT.

      Most departments require that profs select a text (rather than a collection of articles). So, the profs review books that they can get their hands on, and select the one that most closely follows the syllabus they’d like to use, or most closely follows his/her understanding of the subject matter. Bonus if the text is easy to follow and has supplemental materials for students to use for studying.

      Keep in mind, sometimes the “best” book for the course is not the cheapest. Usually, what I do is narrow it down to three that would work and then select the least expensive from those. BUT, in a very specialized field, sometimes the options are limited – fewer options and specialized info means higher prices.

      If the course is a basic, required-for-everyone course, (or a pre-req for later courses) often the department has a specific book that they require and the prof can’t change it. You see that a lot in classes routinely taught by adjunct faculty – the department wants *some* continuity so they mandate a text and sometimes the whole syllabus.

      And sometimes the department requires that the prof use a text that was written by the department (meaning you can’t get it on Amazon) because in this era of slashed budgets, a lot of departments have found that by self-publishing and selling a standard text exclusively to their students they can fill budget gaps. At my University a lot of the basic courses that departments are required to provide 50+ sections for are not fully funded, so the departments have to rely on the revenue generated by the textbooks to pay for the faculty to teach the courses. If they didn’t do that, they couldn’t provide enough sections so students would have to roll the dice that they could take this required course *eventually* before they graduate.

      All of this, and no one mentions that bookstores have a 50% mark-up over what they pay to the publisher.

      And, there is no accounting for the inability of students to be savvy shoppers. I teach a course where I require groups to research a social issue that affects them and every semester I get at least one kid who researches textbook prices. They’re always *astounded* by what they find – “you mean, the course book is at the LIBRARY?” “Wait, this book is like, $10 on Amazon but I paid $60 at the bookstore!!” “Oh, so this is why you sent out the ISBN number a month before class started? I wish I knew that before I went to the campus bookstore.”

      The fact is, students one the whole (and that excludes people who routinely visit this site, obviously) are pretty dumb and will pay the list price without thinking or arguing. If you really can’t afford the book (which I never could in college) there is ALWAYS a way to get the info without paying for it. If they haven’t figured that out yet, then they deserve the markup.

  6. Michaela says:

    I have learned that you can get a better deal buying a used book directly from a person who took the course the semester before. They get more than the buy-back a bookstore would offer, and you get a book at a price lower than the used price in the store.
    It isn’t that hard to find the opportunity to do these deals if you get to know others in your major. I didn’t have to do anything to get someone to buy my old physics text books (paid $250 for both books, but the university refuses to buy them back because they come with an online subscription that can only be used once).

    I refuse to use ebooks again though. It just isn’t practical for my math classes (classroom desks are too small to do math by hand while scrolling through problems on my laptop).

  7. Smiley Massacre says:

    http://www.chegg.com

    Seriously, check it out.

    • mobomelter says:

      I’m really surprised this article doesn’t mention chegg at all. While my textbooks last semester should have cost well over 500 bucks I spent a total of 120 to rent them for the semester.

  8. microcars says:

    conversely, what is the best place for a student to SELL their used textbooks?
    I bought most of my textbooks from the last year locally on Craigslist for 1/3 of their list price or less, and have now listed them again for less than what I paid, maybe no one is snapping them up from me because it is not crunch time yet…

    • hikari07 says:

      I’ve always had decent luck with selling on half.ebay.com. Actually sold a business book for a profit even. Not to mention they do payments twice a month – same days as my current internship. Love!

      Oh, and beware when shipping. You need to specifically ask for Media Mail. My university’s post office wasn’t open the first time I shipped, and I didn’t know about it. Spent about four times as much as I should have.

      • KatieNeptune says:

        amazon has a GREAT textbook buyback program right now…look up the textbook and there is often an option for buying back the book on the right hand side (not the “sell yours here” but below it). They gave me a $93 giftcard to amazon in exchange for my IT 500 book. Goodbye text, hello new microwave stand. And, the shipping is free, and was processed unbelievably fast – shipped it on Monday, had the gift card credited to my account by Wednesday (but I’m in Maine and the shipping location was in New Hampshire).

    • goodfellow_puck says:

      Half.com … keep in mind no one might buy your books because textbook companies are always upping the edition numbers on books, making the old ones “obsolete” even if they have the same material.

    • coren says:

      Is your school offering the same class this year? See what the textbook requirements are. If you have the books and don’t mind heading out to the first day of those classes…show up a few minutes beforehand, ask who wants a good copy, used, and then sell for less than the bookstore does. Probably make your money back. You can easily substitute local college for the one you went to if necessary.

      Alternatively, Amazon.com via their marketplace.

    • chocolate1234 says:

      You can also try Amazon. I’ve sold some books on their website.

  9. FatLynn says:

    I see cheap textbook rentals online, but I don’t know much about it (as I am going back to school after many years as a real adult). Anyone have good/bad experiences?

    • mobomelter says:

      Chegg.com is amazing. They’ll mail you your books and provided free shipping back to them. My friends and I have had no issues with them.

    • coren says:

      Be wary. There are places that charge nearly what buying the book costs, which is almost not a deal at all (especially considering you have to give the book back)

  10. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Talk to your professors about the cost of textbooks. It probably won’t get you a discount on a text (unless the professor wrote the text), but it will bring the issue to the professor’s attention that required texts for 14 or 15 classes really adds up. Be careful about assuming that professors know and just don’t care. I had a professor who, after seeing how expensive textbooks were, allowed his students to share books during class. I had another professor order additional textbooks just so there could be a higher amount reserved in the library for his students to go and do their weekly assigned reading.

    • burnedout says:

      Our library has flat-out refused to do this because they can’t afford to renew periodical subscriptions let alone pay for students’ books.

      To be fair, though, it isn’t that professors don’t care. They all have to weigh giving you the best education against the cost of the text they feel will do that. Some profs have their hands tied by the department, but many see the book as the best way to help students learn the material.

      Ultimately the problem is that students view classes as a means to a degree and the text becomes one more expense between them and the piece of paper. I wish more students would view classes as a learning opportunity and the text as a necessary tool for learning. Unfortunately, learning has become secondary to grades, and at that point the book is viewed as an unnecessary overhead expense.

      • babyruthless says:

        But as an instructor you can (and I’m about to) order an extra preview copy of the book to leave in the copy on reserve. The library has told us that they’re willing to do this, and we can leave various restriction lengths on it.

        • babyruthless says:

          erm, leave in the library, rather.

        • burnedout says:

          Tried that. No go – they said I don’t have rights to share or distribute a preview copy. And the publishers are starting to catch on to that – I lost my book last semester and requested a second one only to be told no.

          • babyruthless says:

            I’m thinking I’m going to order an extra copy of the textbook my officemate uses, and ask her if she’ll order the one I’m using. So we’ve each only asked for one copy of the book we’re using.

            I requested 2 different editions of the same book (both of which were listed on the website) to ascertain the difference between them. They okayed the order, and then sent me two copies of the newer one, saying that they didn’t have the older one.

            • burnedout says:

              Yeah because they don’t want you to tell the class it’s okay if they use the older edition (which happens to only cost $1 on Amazon, right?).

              The best luck I’ve had with multiple copies is on CourseSmart – they send an e-book and a hard copy. I don’t mind using the e-book and I let students use my hard copy during office hours (emergency xeroxes, etc.).

  11. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    In my last class the professor let us vote on which book to use as our textbook.
    My classmates picked the most expensive option.

    This would be difficult to schedule well but if you know you’re going to take some classes that don’t use a text you could try spreading those out so you regularly have a class you don’t have to buy a book for.

  12. pantheonoutcast says:

    Since publishers, in conjunction with the universities and individual professors they cut a deal with, have no problem with charging $80 for a textbook that may be used only a handful of times in class, but is being touted as a “necessity,” then I would have no problem retrieving that textbook from the myriad sources available to me online. And I don’t mean Amazon.

    That being said, when I was in college, I bought maybe three textbooks total; I simply made friends with people in my classes, and suggested “study sessions.” I graciously offered the use of my apartment and bought the pizza.

  13. It'sRexManningDay! says:

    Buy direct from the publisher, or from Amazon. In either case, you’re cutting out the university bookstore middleman.

  14. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Oh, find out if your school has a site where the teachers are rated. (It’d be an unofficial site but if there are a lot of ratings it should be useful) You might be able to find out whether or not the teacher actually uses the book they assign for the class.

  15. chemmy says:

    Too often my former college required us to purchase textbooks and we would use only one paragraph out of the book…. written by the course professor. And of course we were required to have the book with us in class or risk not getting any participation points for the day and thus risk failing the course completely.

    More often than not, I resorted to circumventing this nonsense by purchasing the book from the school bookstore long enough to photocopy the paragraph we needed the book for.

    And returned the book for a refund. Eff ‘em. I thought it was shitty how they always forced us to buy their own book and then not use it… especially when it came in hardback only and only came bundled with software we didn’t need and was so useless and obscure you couldn’t even find used copies online.

    I also had several professors sell “course packets” which were books of photocopied pages stapled together that they sold to us for $75 a course.

    Luckily 99% of the material was freely available online so I wasn’t forced to partake in that.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      And of course we were required to have the book with us in class or risk not getting any participation points for the day and thus risk failing the course completely.

      That is ASS. Remind them of this bullshit when they start begging you for money as an alumni.

      • pot_roast says:

        That kind of stuff seems popular in law schools. A friend of mine finished up his JD a few years ago and several professors pulled that stunt.

    • coren says:

      I’m pretty sure that somewhere higher up the chain they’re interested in hearing about professors forcing you to buy books that you don’t use in order to gain points for something you can do without said book. Dean, office of student affairs, whatever. I know that shit would not fly at my school

    • frugalmom says:

      Actually, course packets cost professors more than just the cost of the photocopies. They have to pay the original publisher for the right to distribute those copies to students. Often they’ll use their own works because they get a deal to distribute their own articles for free. Otherwise, it can cost ridiculous amounts. Time Magazine, for example, charges $900 to reprint any article.

  16. andoman says:

    THE best advice is to check prices abroad for textbooks using the ‘international’ edition of your book. Sometimes the ISBN number will be different, but the book is the same. A brand new international edition can go for half the price of a brand new North American edition book… you can compare prices from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. Even with shipping from Britain, the total cost will be much lower. I checked an Economics text that was $130 at Amazon.com, and £40($63) at Amazon.co.uk. The NY Times printed an article bout this practice 7 years ago, I’m surprised they haven’t brought it up again.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/21/us/students-find-100-textbooks-cost-50-purchased-overseas.html?pagewanted=1

  17. Donathius says:

    If you don’t care about keeping the books http://www.chegg.com is incredible (you rent the books for however long you need them instead of buying). The shipping was fast, and the price couldn’t be beat. We were going to be in $400 for my wife’s textbooks one semester, but we decided to give Chegg a try and they ended up being only $90. Return shipping is free (just print a label off their site) and if you keep the original shipping box you don’t even have to worry about getting boxes to ship with.

  18. MercuryPDX says:

    Check your school library. They will almost always have one copy that CANNOT be checked out, but may also have one or two that can be. Early bird gets the worm.

  19. babyruthless says:

    bigwords.com It’s the best textbook search bot I’ve ever found.

    • InsertPithyNicknameHere says:

      Seconded – I highly recommend them, as they will aggregate cost not only for the book, but also shipping, so you can see the lowest price overall for mutliple books.
      They are also useful for selling textbooks – they will tell you what online retailers are paying for copies of your books.

  20. Incredulous1 says:

    I used Amazon for my sons High School text books. We were looking at almost $500 for books. I saved at least a third for every book. I could have spent less but I did bought books in very good condition or like new because they will be used again next year for his younger brother.

    It helps that the school provided the IBSN number ahead of time.

  21. giantpiazza31 says:

    Like other posters mentioned, find out if you really need the book. If you do, but won’t be using it all the time, find someone else in the class to split the cost with (if you rent it, this can come out to be really cheap!)

    I like to use the search engines, like bigwords.com, dealoz.com …you can find some pretty good deals on sites like those without putting in that much effort

  22. mcmunchkin says:

    Renting textbooks is a scam. Most of the rental prices are comparable to the used book prices, but I don’t get to keep the book later.

    I buy almost all my books online as international editions or used American editions. I search for the correct ISBN using Google shopping. Sometimes I have to search for “international” when I do it. I usually get my upper division science textbooks for 1/3 of the new American full price. I resell them on Amazon or Half.com, and I usually get about what I paid for the used version.

  23. Dutchess says:

    I used to buy and sell all my textbooks on half.com the fixed price side of Ebay.

    I always got good price for my books (compared to buy backs) and bought my books dirt cheap!

  24. goodfellow_puck says:

    - Never buy new. After you register for classes, ask your new profs what their lists are a head of time so you have the option of online buying. Search around different sites. Don’t even bother with the “used” books at the bookstore as they’re always more expensive.

    - The edition you need is still $80 used? Look for the edition JUST BEFORE the one you need. Usually poor students stuck with the now obsolete edition are selling it for a couple dollars. I did this frequently and discovered that the interior content was EXACTLY THE SAME. They might add or move around a chapter (which is no problem since you can ask for the chapter title if you’re unsure which homework is needed), but that was all they did. Textbook companies up the editions to kill used book sales all the time–doesn’t mean the content has changed since the 90s/80s or much later!

    - Buy nothing and go to your school library. Both colleges I went to required all required texts to be available in their “reference” section. You could go in and check-out a book within the library for a couple hrs at a time. Perfect for doing homework in-between or after/before class time. You’ll also discover that most profs who require texts lecture the exact same stuff, so a text in class is worthless. If they ask you about it, explain that you’re poor and can’t afford the texts. I had one teacher offer to make me copies straight out of hers!

  25. phrekyos says:

    Here’s a few things I used to do:

    International editions. They’re usually printed on cheap newspaper-like material, but they’re more than sufficient. Found them on eBay mostly.

    Check the publisher’s site. Sometimes the school gives you an ISBN for one edition, say a hardcover. But there sometimes is a softcover that is cheaper (or vice-versa). Some books are split into two volumes; if you are only taking the first part of a two-part class, it may be cheaper to get just the first volume. Sometimes it’s cheaper to buy the two volumes separately than together as one book (and sometimes not).

    Instructor’s editions. I have one or two of these I got off eBay for much less than the regular edition. Not supposed to be sold like that, but what do I care?

    Evaluation copies. It’s my understanding these aren’t supposed to be sold either, because they’re freebies given away by the publisher for the prof. to evaluate whether they like the book or not. I have a couple I got off eBay for a very low price. These might be a banned item on eBay now, though.

  26. toxicXchocobo says:

    While there’s a chance your college library might or might not carry your textbook that can or cannot be checked out, there’s also a good chance your college has an Interlibrary Loan program. Regardless what you request (textbook, dvd/vhs, fiction/nonfiction, video games, etc.) more often than not you can take it out of the library with many offering 30+ days before being returned AND still being able to renew it as needed.

    ILL is part of your student fees so for all your non-custom textbooks, it’s definitely a great place to start before having to dish out cash elsewhere.

    • toxicXchocobo says:

      *Of course, it may take the ILL department awhile to go through their list of colleges & regular libraries world- & nationwide to find a copy. Recommend putting a request in as soon as possible to ensure they find it and get it to you from a lending library on time.

      • coren says:

        For ours we find the item in Worldcat ourselves so they know exactly who has it. Still takes time bug significantly less so

  27. BrianneG says:

    Ebay for the Indian editions of my textbooks was a lifesaver. I just finished a graduate degree in engineering and I only purchased one book at the university bookstore. Most books were about a third what I would pay anywhere else.

  28. Eels says:

    I spent just over $500 for my textbooks this year. All are new, none are international editions. Buying through my school bookstore, I would have paid over $900 for used books.

    I wanted new books because I will be using them for two years. Had I gone for used ones, I could have spent as little as $6 on some of my books.

    The sites I have used:
    Amazon, TextbooksRUs, Abe Books, half.com

    Amazon has free prime for students this year, and their prices are cheap. I also feel safer ordering from them.

    TextbooksRUs is a good site for seriously cheap used books, but their condition can be a little iffy. I have ordered books in “very good” condition that were full of highlighting and notes. They are the best site to sell your books back to.

    Abe has a lot of international editions to wade through, but I have found very good deals on there, and sometimes they send you coupons.

    Half.com most consistently has the best deals I have found.

    My tips:
    -Shop around. One store will not have the best price you need on every book.
    -Don’t buy international editions. First, it is illegal. Second, they are impossible to resell.
    -Only buy from trusted 3rd party sellers (ones with good ratings). Some of them have amazing deals, fast shipping, and incredible customer service. They are not hard to find.
    -Buy early. Schools are now required to give you your book information when you REGISTER for classes. Prices creep up as the start of the semester approaches.
    -Don’t rent. I have not found a situation where renting a book is cheaper than buying it used and selling it at the end of the semester. Sometimes it is more expensive than a new book.

    • babyruthless says:

      I love international editions! Are you kidding me that you don’t buy them? They’re illegal to sell, but I’m pretty sure they’re not illegal to buy or to have. And who cares if you can’t sell them back (not that I’ve ever had a problem with this myself). If it costs you $20 instead of $80 or $100, it doesn’t even matter if you can’t sell it back. It was a good price to start with!

    • andoman says:

      International editions are not illegal to buy, use, sell or re-sell. That idiotic disclaimer thing on the cover has no legal bearing. It’s just a scare clause. First sale doctrine applies to international editions. It’s only possible the seller has maybe broken his contract with the distributor, but otherwise international editions are NOT illegal to sell, re-sell, buy, or use in the US. If you don’t believe me just look it up. The publishers have no legal leg to stand on besides distribution contracts, the scare warning is just to discourage so-called ‘textbook arbitrage’, by making students think they are doing something illegal when they are not.

      From the NY Time article I posted: “To the despair of the textbook publishers who are still trying to block such sales, the reimporting of American texts from overseas has become far easier in recent years, thanks both to Internet sites that offer instant access to foreign book prices, and to a 1998 Supreme Court ruling that federal copyright law does not protect American manufacturers from having the products they arranged to sell overseas at a discount shipped back for sale in the United States.”

    • ogremustcrush says:

      Only $500… I don’t think I’ve ever spent more that $200 a semester, and only the only times I spent that much was when I needed a brand new edition of a book for the stupid problems in the back used in assignments. Most of the time I avoid buying as many books as possible if I won’t actually need them / can find the info online, or I get an old edition or international version as all the info is the same anyway. When I first started school I actually bought current editions of all my books used online for less that $100 total, and then was able to sell them at the end of the semester for more than I bought them for, but used prices have risen a lot since then.

    • coren says:

      I have no problem reselling the international editions that I wish to. You say it’s impossible, and yet – who buys the ones that are already for sale? And they certainly aren’t illegal to buy. If it’s illegal for someone to buy them in India or other countries which get these international editions and sell them here, that’s on them – not me. I’m not sure that it is. The way I understand it, it’s also not illegal to resell them. http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=295219

  29. coren says:

    BIGWORDS. In big letters. lol

    International editions. Big words will recommend them sometimes, sometimes you gotta seek em out. I’ve paid a tenth of the price of a new book for the international edition of the same thing. Softcover, sometimes black and white illustrations, but worth the savings any day.

    Worldcat (or Summit, or whatever interlibrary system you have) – you can check out books for weeks or months via your college’s library system if they have a good interlibrary system, which can mean no textbook cost at all (or very little, i’ve heard of fees associated with this)

    Don’t go to hippy school. I do, so our books are frequently not in use anywhere else. My brother is in an engineering program – I can always sell his books for decent prices.

    Don’t sell to book buyback programs. Do you like getting 1/10th of what you paid for a 3 month old book in great condition? No you do not. Frequently, especially at bigger schools, they’ll have the same section/class next quarter/semester. Especially if you took it in Fall – books rarely change versions between school years. Go to the first day of that class, about five minutes before class starts, and undercut the book store by however much you feel like you have to in order to sell it – tons of people don’t buy books until after their first class for various reasons, and you can usually get at least 75 percent of what the bookstore wants, which is a cut far above book buybacks.

    Alternatively, sell online. Amazon is generally best as it seems to have a good reputation and people are willing to pay a little bit more for your book (which is nice cuz Amazon takes a bigger cut than anyone else – you pay for their reputation I guess). I’m sure other online retailers are good as well, but I deal exclusively with Amazon.

    Using all these tips…I managed to get through community college about 200 ahead on textbooks (yes, I made money). At my four year school I’ve only spent money on books I want to have in the future, nothing else.

    And lastly..older editions can work, mostly in math and science, but be wary on the homeworks, and it probably goes without saying, but anything “cutting edge” may actually change edition to edition, so watch out.

    • coren says:

      Also: talk to your professor. Sometimes the book isn’t really that needed, or you only need it one or two weeks. Sometimes they’ll ok a different edition. Or tell you what’s in a packet so you can get it cheaper. Or loan you a preview copy of the book. Or copy pages out/let you copy pages out. Professors can be super helpful.

  30. whintyr says:

    The best deal I ever got on a textbook was an American history book…purchased from Amazon’s UK site. Even after shipping charges (from the UK), it was still $15 or so cheaper than any other source I could find.

  31. _UsUrPeR_ says:

    I first check piratebay/demonoid. If they come up with nothing, I’ll check Amazon for a used book. I have been taking a lot of gen ed courses recently, and most of the resources are online. Thankfully, the profs have not required us to purchase books for classes it is absolutely not required for. The only text books I have purchased new from the book store have been a book required for my math courses, and another for Java programming.

    Something I have seen which is really highlighting the apparent profiteering from textbook manufacturers: one of the book companies has begun producing yearly math course books written specifically for my school. That is to say, it’s a cut-rate black-and-white soft cover textbook with my school’s name on the cover, and all the chapters jumbled up. They release a new revision of these books every 6 months, and they cost around $175. The ISBN number does not correspond to any book available on Amazon.

  32. yessongs says:

    I never used any textbooks I purchased, so I stopped buying them. I had a gpa just under 4.0

  33. lawgirl502 says:

    get the ISBN # and do a search on a comparison site-often Amazon.com is lowest, but I also found Abebooks.com and half.com have better deals

  34. sporks says:

    Older editions of textbooks are usually almost identical to the current edition. Last semester, I spent less than $50 for all of my textbooks, and $35 of that were for two books I had to buy at the bookstore. The $80 textbook that was ordered specifically for my class because it didn’t include unnecessary chapters was used only by this professor. I bought the previous edition of a similar book on the topic by the same authors for $6. The text was 95% identical to the other book, despite having a different title and ISBN than the university specific book.

    There is always the chance that the book will change fundamentally and you will be required to buy the newer version after buying the older version, but I saved close to $200 last semester and had no problems. It’s a lot less insulting to buy a $3 book and open it once than having to buy the $70 version and doing the same.

  35. JamieSueAustin says:

    I go to the book store and write down the ISBNs. Then I order from Amazon or where ever is cheapest using DEALOZ.com I do it as soon as the text book lists are available and have never been without a book on the first day of class.

  36. DerekSmalls says:

    My no-fail system for cheap textbooks:

    1. Got to class a few days to make sure you’re not going to drop it. Get your professor’s opinion on what you’ll actually need for the class.

    2. Consider old editions purchased off of half.com. For subjects like history or psychology, things don’t change much. My new edition psychology text was going for $120. I bought an old edition for $10. I didn’t learn any less.

    3. If you need the new edition, price shop online first. Consider “text-sharing” with friends (which of course does NOT mean any illegal photocopying of said book, of course).

    4. If all else fails, consider the non-campus bookstores in town and shop around for prices. They almost always gave me better prices.

    I went through college paying very little for my textbooks. I was a liberal arts major, sure, and my books were cheaper. I think it can be done far cheaper than most people think.

  37. I wumbo. You wumbo. He- she- me... wumbo. Wumbo; Wumboing; We'll have thee wumbo; Wumborama; Wumbology; the study of Wumbo. says:

    I don’t waste my money on the latest edition. The difference between the 4th edition and the 5th edition is one photo.

  38. starving student says:

    I always use Chegg to rent texts instead of buying from the bookstore. I wanted to share a code that your readers can use to get a discount on renting with Chegg. Put in the code when ordering and hit the “apply” button. The code also gives you back an additional $5 when selling Chegg your used texts.

    Use code CC123047

    This code never expires so it can be used over and over! Feel free to share this with other students who need to save some cash.