Save on College Textbooks

The first day of school is rapidly approaching. For college students that means one really big, immediate expense: textbooks.

Every fall students dole out hundreds of dollars on textbooks. When I was in school, to be honest, it just felt like a huge ripoff. You buy a really expensive book you’ll barely read throughout the semester and when all is said and done, you’re stuck with it. There has to be a better way, right? Well, actually there is.

Check out these 6 ways to save.

Compare Prices Online

Direct Textbook is the leading site for price comparisons on college textbook. Research from the company finds that most students overpay an average of 45% for books, primarily because they don’t shop around for the lowest price. With the average student at a four-year college expected to pay nearly $5,000 as they matriculate, savings of 45% could mean $2,250 in the bank. Use Direct Textbook, or a similar site, to find the best price for the books you need. Odds are, finding it online will beat the price at your campus bookstore.

Know the Right Time to Buy

As with most things, there’s a best time to save on textbooks and that time is fast approaching. When shopping online for new or used books, the lowest priced ones will sell out quickly. An analysis by found that the weeks of Aug 20-26th and Jan 7-13th are when prices are best. Why? It all has to do with supply and demand. During those weeks before and after school, the market is flooded with books and prices tend to come down.

Opt For Used Books

A great way to save is to buy used textbooks, especially books that you don’t plan on keeping. For elective classes outside my major, I almost always bought used. Used books come at a significant discount in campus bookstores and online., and Ebay’s are all great sources for used books. One tip for buying used books: Check with your professor to find if older editions of the book will suffice. They’re usually available at lower prices, include only minor differences from the newest editions and are abundant online.

Rent Your Book

Textbook rental sites like CheggBookRenter, and Barnes & Noble can help save pretty hefty amounts. For example, right now on Chegg, you can rent “Essentials of Business Communication, the 9th edition” for just $45. The price to buy: a whopping $124.

Go Paperless

Yet another way to save on textbooks is by downloading them. On average, you’ll save about half with retailers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Ebooks of course can be very handy and will lighten the load in your backpack. The downside, however, is that when you’re done with the book, there’s no option to resell it so a download is only advisable if it’s a text you really want to keep.

Recoup by Reselling

Need book money for next semester? Resell your used textbook. Again, marketplaces including and are perfect destinations and you’ll want to zero in on Aug 20-26th and Jan 7-13th as key dates to sell your books because demand will be at its highest. According to, students can sell their textbooks for as much as 20% more by selling during the right months. All you have to do is keep them in great condition.

Photo Courtesy, John Liu.

you might like....