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With fall kind of around the corner, students are gearing up to go back to school and that means transitioning from beach mode to study mode. Not the easiest, but at least fall means cooler weather, colorful trees and holidays on holidays.
Today, I thought it would be a timely post to dive into textbooks… aka a potentially huge money suck for students. Textbooks can easily run upwards of $150 per class, and even with a typical 4 class semester, that is over $1,200 per year! That is pretty crazy. But it doesn’t have to be that way for anyone and it certainly doesn’t have to be that way for you, because here you are! Stick with me as I run through some of the different options out there and then I’ll finish up with the tool I use to search for the best deal.
Rent your textbook
Renting a textbook automatically will provide savings right off the bat, and this is a great option because you get to mail the book back when you are done with it… Because really, who wants to hang on to a textbook after the class is over? Chegg and Amazon are two of the leaders in the rental field – want to know which one to pick? Read on for the tool I use to compare prices.
Buy a used textbook
Buying a used textbook is one of the options I used the most when I was in University. By buying a used book, I was then able to turn around a sell the book at the end of the semester. Depending on how demand fluctuated, sometimes I was able to make a profit on the book. Not bad I say!
Buy an older edition
It’s no secret that every couple years, publishers come out with a “new, improved and updated edition” that has shiny colors and a nice new cover. And sure, there are some other improvements too. But let’s be real, the big reason they do this is so they can charge full price for a new book. And that’s annoying.
If your professor has a new textbook listed on the class syllabus, send him/her a message and ask if an older edition of the book will suffice. As long as they aren’t planning on using any special digital content included with the book, it should be fine – but double check just in case!
Buy an eBook
This isn’t my favorite option since it represents a sunk cost (you can’t sell an eBook, after all). But usually, they are a little cheaper than physical books. Usually, this is the last resort; some newer books are not being physically published.
Share a book
OK, so you might not want to do this if you are a freshman. But as you get more comfortable with your college classes and higher up in your specialty, this option could work. I went to a pretty small school and my classes had a lot of the same faces in them. Grabbing a friend, splitting the cost and sharing a book / eBook worked was a great option for me.
So… Now what?
Alright, so there is a big list of tips, but what about navigating all the different websites to find the best deal? Well, there happens to be a handy website called DealOz.com that handles it all for you. And it is as easy as can be. Head to DealOz, type in the ISBN or title of the textbook (or book) you need and it crawls the web and finds the best deals possible. Even handier, it lists them out by best rental,
One thing that I like to do before
new), is to click on the “Sell Yours Here” tab, which tells me how much I will get if I wanted to sell my textbook.
It looks like the cheapest purchase option is $21, the cheapest rental is $19 and the best sell option is $13. If I spent $2 more and bought it, then turned around and sold it, the total cost would be $8. Or I could rent it for $19. In this case, it is slightly less hassle to rent it, but if the starting prices were higher, it would be a much easier decision whether to rent or buy/sell. As it is, you’d have to mail a rental back anyway, so for only $2 more, you can get some of your money back by buying/selling.
The Simple Summary
The list above, along with DealOz, saved me hundreds of dollars on textbooks over the course of my time in University. Check it out, save yourself some money, and never pay full price for a textbook again! It doesn’t get easier than that.
P.S. So, fun fact: I was an RA in University. And that meant I was there at the way end of the semester when everyone else had already gone home. Pro-tip: dumpster dive around campus, grab the textbooks that kids have thrown away and