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Saving and Sometimes Making Money on College Textbooks

Kelly M. Maker-Fonsec -- Even with so many resources online, you're still going to need textbooks for classes. The question is, is it better to purchase used or new ones? Here are some long and short term factors to consider.

Let's start with some guidelines about used texts. For some courses, you'll need the software that comes with the book or access code for programs relative to the text. If this is the case, typically it's cheaper to get these books new. Sometimes you can get these texts used anyway with a new access code, but do your research on this before you do. It might be cheaper to get the book brand new.

Second, there are International Editions of texts out there that are nearly precisely identical--word for word--to their U.S. counterparts. The distinction between them and their U.S .counterparts is usually just the ISBN number, the cover, and sometimes a page discrepancy. Question previous class attendees concerning the professor and assignments. It might be necessary to "be on the same page" as the saying goes, and you'll want to be sure to get a student U.S. edition of your book. These are usually more expensive, but make sure you keep your priorities straight. Keep in mind these few guidelines before following my steps below.

Ask around school and on school online forums to see if somebody can sell you their used book for cheap. You might be able to find a copy in the library you can borrow for FREE! If not, check out the online school bookstore for the books you'll need next semester. Write down the titles, authors, editions, prices (for new and used), and ISBN numbers of the books you have to have. Now you can begin to hunt for them online.

Search for the ISBN numbers of your texts on sites like Amazon, Half dot com, eBay, Abe books, Barnes and Noble, etc. You can Google them too. Take out any hyphens and search just the text string. There are numerous online used book stores. I do not advocate rental books. Renting is like throwing money away. Get the book used, use it a semester, and then resell it to recoup costs. It will be cheaper than renting in the long run. Be sure to watch shipping costs and check sites like Retail Me Not and Coupon Cabin for saving on shipping or discount codes. If you would like a book new, Amazon may be a great spot for brand new books with their CDs, access codes, and packages. You want good used condition so you can resell them easier once the class is over.

Now purchase your books from the least cost location (including shipping). They will probably arrive within the week. Once the course is over, check the used book sites again for your book once more (using the ISBN). Find the location that the sellers are earning the most for their used books, and list yours there. List your book for slightly cheaper than the cheapest "very good" condition book. If the book is International Edition, list it on the page for the U.S. edition with notes that it is an International Edition and the actual ISBN. This is how you can sometimes make money from selling used texts. Be completely honest concerning your book's condition. You want return business.

I hope this information has been insightful! Use the money you saved on books for other school-related expenses, or do something fun in between semesters! You've earned it!


For more details and information on my method, or to contact me, visit my page at:

© 2014 Kelly M. Maker-Fonsec

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