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5 Great Ways to Lower Your Textbook Costs

Tyson Schritter

It’s no secret that college textbooks can be incredibly expensive. In fact, College textbook prices are 812% more expensive than they were three decades ago. To put this number into perspective, the rate at which textbook prices are increasing not only eclipses tuition, but also housing prices and medical services. While this won’t make textbooks the most expensive item in your college budget, experts recommend allocating around $1,000 for them.  However, despite all of this, it is entirely possible to make your college textbooks affordable and accessible. Here are a few ways to lower your book costs:

1. Buy Used

Buying college textbooks used is likely the convenient option for many people. This can be done through online retailers such as Amazon or even through your university bookstore. Buying a used textbook means the book is still under your ownership, but it’s far cheaper because of its condition. “Used” also doesn’t have to mean “half-ripped apart with a broken spine,” as most used textbooks generally have the wear of highlighter marks and previous students’ notes.

2. Rent the Book

Another alternative is renting your textbooks. Similar to buying used, textbooks in this category will also have previous owners. The difference here is that the book must be returned to the purchased retailer after one semester.

This makes renting textbooks one of the cheapest and most commonly used options. Be wary, however, because any used textbook will not give you access to online course materials, which some business and language courses may require. Unfortunately, in this scenario, a new textbook must be purchased.

3. Use the Library

You might have overlooked this option, but some college libraries have textbooks hidden on their shelves. With proper planning and early checking, you can secure a book from the school library at the onset of the semester.  

4. E-textbooks

If you must buy a new textbook for online course materials, consider buying an e-textbook. Cheaper than a new print copy, these digital books grant access to the necessary material to take courses. E-Textbooks can be found on retailers such as Amazon or VitalSource.

Despite the surge in college textbook pricing, cheaper alternatives do exist. Don’t let the high costs of new textbooks discourage you, there are many ways to overcome these inflated price tags.

5. Selling Your Books Back

If all else fails and you must buy a book, there is always the option of selling your book. Many universities offer a buyback program through the campus bookstore. In addition to this, there are many Facebook groups for students at the school where people who need to take classes you may have already taken will be looking for textbooks. These can usually be found by doing a quick search for Facebook groups of your school. There also online retailers, Amazon being the prime example, that will buy back textbooks at a slightly reduced rate.

Hopefully, college textbooks will one day become an open resource for all, but until then, there is an abundance of alternatives to reduce your cost of college.

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