Last Updated Aug 20, 2011 4:43 PM EDT
It's a question that millions of college students will be asking soon as they head back to school. The good news is that there are more opportunities than ever to save money on college textbooks.
Here are 5 ways to find cheap textbooks.
1. Compare prices.The number of outlets for new and used textbook is massive, but you can focus on the places with the cheapest textbooks by using aggregators like BigWords.com and CampusBooks that scour lots of textbook suppliers for you.
2. Consider renting textbooks.Rentals are worth checking out, but don't assume that they will always be cheaper than a book you can buy. Sources for rented books include BookRenter, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Chegg. Believe it or not, you can also rent books at many campus bookstores.
To make sure you get the best deal on rented textbooks, check out sites such as Alibris, Textbooks.com, RentScouter or Textbook Rentals that can provide you with prices from multiple book rental sources.
Look for free shipping for your rented books and also ask if you can highlight your rented textbooks. Some outfits will let you and others won't.
3. Rent a digital textbook.
The electronic textbook world is growing, which opens up yet another avenue to save on books. Many players are claiming to be the biggest source of electronic textbooks, but CampusBooks, a veteran textbook comparison firm, attempted to see which were the top dogs by looking at what digital textbook providers carried the 1,000 most popular textbooks for the upcoming school year.
Here are the providers, according to CampusBooks, that carried the highest percentage of the most popular textbooks: CourseSmart (82%), Barnes & Noble (47%) Kno (44%) and Textbooks.com (24%).
4. Look for coupons.
Before shopping for a textbook, look for promotional coupons at sites like CouponWinner.com, PromoCodes.com and PromotionalCodes.com.
5. Borrow one.See if you can borrow textbooks at your college library or from your friends.
Lynn O'Shaughnessy is author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller, and the Shrinking the Cost of College workbook. She also writes her own college blog at The College Solution.
Cheap textbook image by Aaron Jacobs. CC 2.0.