Saving money on college textbooks is an important topic. For many freshmen college students (and their parents) it is their course book bill that is biggest surprise bill of them all. Usually we parents are well on our way home when the call for those funds comes in. Most first year students take the easy route and get their books directly from the campus bookstore. Yes, it is quick, simple and easy but it has traditionally been THE MOST EXPENSIVE method of procuring the needed college textbooks. So here are alternatives that are worth investigating and can save you hundreds of dollars.
The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 included provisions to lower the cost of college textbooks. So the government is our advocate for saving money on college textbooks. It required publishers to
"unbundle" textbook packages, meaning the student no longer has to buy
the CD, DVD or workbooks along with the textbook. They can now be
purchased separately, as needed. The legislation also requires colleges
to provide the students with the class course schedule,the price of the
textbook and the ISBN number which identifies the book and allows
students to easily shop the book through multiple sources. All this will
help students to save money on college textbooks and make campus
bookstores more competitive. Here are some additional suggestions for
saving more money on college textbooks. Read them all!
Try the campus library first. As soon as the
course syllabus is in hand, head to the college library. Most have
copies of all textbooks in their racks. Some campuses, such as my
daughter’s, will let them check the books out for an entire semester.
You just need to make sure you renew them each month. Other campus
libraries, keep the textbooks on file and you can check them out for
free for 2-4 hours as you need them.
Search out online booksellers like Amazon.com and half.com. They have a wealth of new and used textbooks at discounted prices. In some cases, you can get free shipping too. Always compare the prices between sites and your college bookstore. Don’t let your student tell you they don’t have enough time to wait for the books. All professors give the students an adequate time period to get their books. If your student is very industrious, they may be able to go online to their course and find the textbook requirements posted even before classes start and get an early start on saving money on college textbooks.
Rent textbooks is an easy way to save money on college textbooks. You order your books, choose a length of the rental and pay a set amount of rent for that time. At the end of the rental period, you print out a return address label and send the book back to them. Barnes and Noble has just entered the textbook rental arena and ran a test program last year. They are expanding now to allow students to order their rentals online and pick up at the campus bookstore. Prices appear to be a savings of 40-50% off buying a new book. In checking this out with my own college crew, the downside is that you do incur late fees if the books are not returned by the end of the rental period. There are also penalties if you return the book in poor condition. So make sure you read the fine print of the contract.
Uploading college textbooks. MacMillan, a large textbook publisher, has recently introduced a program called Dynamic Books which allows the professor to edit the content of the textbook to make it more applicable to the specific course. Students can then download the "customized textbook" onto their laptop and other electronic devices. This app allows them to highlight critical information and search for specific information. A very creative and less expensive option to buying the book itself. There is a good article her that speaks to this new and upcoming way to save money on college textbooks. Be on the lookout for this innovative application.
Ipad and Kindle applications. Keep alert as new options open up. With the success of e-readers such as Kindle 3G and Apple iPad 2 , e-book versions are upcoming. So the cost of those devices may be offset by the textbook savings cost.
Buy used books at the campus bookstore or online. Amazon.com and others have this available online. Campus bookstores may offer used books, but may not reach out and let the student know that they are available. Used books will offer substantial savings. Remind your student at the end of the semester, to sell back their books as soon as they are finished with them; that is when they will receive the best price. Plus it gives them a slush fund with which they can purchase next semesters books.
Join the public library in the campus community for saving money on college textbooks. These libraries in most college towns try to have many of the course textbooks available for check out or in-house use.
Trust me as an experienced Mom of four past and present college kids..saving money on college textbooks is worth the effort. Also, one final reminder; if you bought books, be sure that you SELL your textbooks either back to the campus store or to other booksellers as soon as you are done with them. With constantly changing and updating of textbooks, this is your best shot at getting the most money back at the end of the semester. Our four have saved thousands for us by using these various methods of obtaining their textbooks and your students can do the same!
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