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5 Simple Solutions To Finding Cheaper Textbooks

B. W. Jones -- With textbook costs outpacing even tuition increases, here are tips to help students shop smarter and maximize their savings potential.

Did you know that college textbooks now cost the average student around $1,200 a year. College textbook prices have increased faster than tuition, health care costs and housing prices, all of which have risen faster than inflation. College textbook prices are 812 percent higher than they were a little more than three decades ago. So finding ways to save on textbooks are more important than ever.

So in this article I'll show you 5 incredibly simple steps you can apply in your textbook shopping that will save you a ton of money.

1. Email the professor

You may not need all the books on the class textbook list. Communicate with your professor about the textbook needs for the class. Inquire which are absolutely required and which are suggested. It also never hurts to ask if your professor has any copies available to lend for the semester. Many students wait till the first day of class to talk to the professor. The main point is to find what textbooks are essential and which are a waste of money.

2. Rent

Textbook prices are ridiculous. Rentals may be the biggest way to lower textbook costs. It also ties up the least cash up front compared to buying and reselling. Rental prices tend to be 20-25% of the cost to purchase. Make sure you review the T&C's, especially the return date and any grace periods.

3. International editions

In many cases textbook publishers offer lower cost editions in other countries. They may have a paper cover or black & white photos but the content is the same. You will be amazed at how low the prices are for International Editions of the same textbook.

4. Last year's edition

If you absolutely cannot afford this year's edition of a textbook consider buying the prior edition of the book. Many times the changes are minor and you will get the content for rock bottom prices. Search by title and not the ISBN to find other editions of your textbook.

5. Shop around

You don't know a good price unless you shop around. Don't assume the major players always have the cheapest price. Supply and demand cause prices to shift quickly so today's cheapest source may not be the cheapest source tomorrow. There are online tools that help you compare prices making you a smarter shopper and maximizes your savings potential.


Try my simple textbook price shopping aid at We report on over 50 textbook sites for pricing and format. You can quickly compare rental rates, find international edition availability and unearth prior edition pricing. All at one website or your mobile device.

© 2017 B. W. Jones

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