Textbooks can easily add up to over $1,000 per year. There are proven ways to slice these costs--but this requires careful planning and strategizing. Here’s how you can save hundreds per year on textbooks.
Ask professors if you need the supplemental materials.
At the beginning of each semester, send an email to your professors asking whether you need any supplemental materials--extra items that come with the textbook--such as worksheets or a digital code to access online homework. If it’s just a code you need, you can ask the online seller if the code is still valid. If it is, you’re all set! Buy the used book online, potentially for half off or, at least, less than bookstore prices. However, if you do have to buy new, you’ll more than likely have to get it from the school bookstore. That’s okay. You can still sell the book online later and recoup some of your investment.
Find out the edition needed from your professor.
Let's say the newest edition of the book you need is its 11th edition, but you can get the 10th edition online for half the price. Check with your professor to see if there’s anything in the newer edition that you really need. Maybe the textbook is merely a reference and the older edition will serve you--and your wallet--just fine.
Renting a textbook can cost you more money.
You can’t resell a book you rent. So if you rent a book for $75, that’s $75 you’ll never recoup. But, if you bought the book new for $100 and later sold it for $65, you would have spent only $35 of your total textbook budget. Only rent books when you don’t want to deal with reselling your books. Be aware, though, that if you damage a rental textbook you could be held responsible for the full price of a new replacement copy. You could be out even more money.
Reselling high is as important as buying low.
If you get a great deal on a textbook online, you’re still spending too much if you don’t resell it later for a good rate. Review prices on Amazon or Ebay to determine a fair price based on your book's condition. Don’t worry if it doesn’t sell right away. Selling high may mean you don’t sell all your textbooks at the end of the semester. You may end up waiting until a few weeks before the next semester before your book sells. The difference in price may be as high as $50. Why? Students will generally pay more for textbooks when it’s closer to the actual semester in which they're needed.