College Textbooks: 7 Ways to Save Money

Last Updated Aug 10, 2010 11:13 PM EDT

Where can you buy cheap college textbooks?stack of nursing books
With textbooks priced in the stratosphere, students across the country scramble each semester to find cheap textbooks for college.

The average student during the last school year spent about $1,122 on textbooks. Before you shop for college textbooks, here are my seven tips to find the cheapest textbooks around:

1. Comparison shop.

You can use BIGWORDS.com and Campusbooks.com, which are textbook aggregators, that can direct you to college textbook sellers are offering the lowest prices. BIGWORDS, for instance, aggregates all the web's options on any book, whether new, used or rentals. Two popular places for textbooks are Half.com and Amazon.

2. Use old editions.

You will often be able to pick up some old editions of textbooks super cheap and sometimes for pennies on the dollar. The content in the 5th edition of a chemistry book versus the 7th edition could be inconsequential. Ask your professors if you aren't sure about buying an old textbook.

3. Consider renting textbooks.

The big gorilla in the textbook rental market is Chegg. Other competitors include BookRenter.com and CampusBookRental.com. ValoreBooks offers free shipping for rentals over $20. Some campus bookstores are also renting textbooks to students.

Renting won't always be cheaper than buying a used copy -- particularly if you can resell the college book, but it can be a godsend if you're strapped for cash. Check prices.

4. Look for coupons.

Before you buy textbooks online, see if you can find a promotional coupon. Check out CouponWinner.com, PromoCodes.com and PromotionalCodes.com.

5. Share a book.

My daughter, who is a college senior, has done this in the past. She's shared textbooks with one or two of her friends and saved big bucks.

6. Try international editions of books.

According to Textbooksrus.com, it's possible to save 75% on international editions of textbooks.

7. Look for books before school starts.

According to a new federal law, textbook publishers must provide students with the list of required textbooks during registration. You'll have more options if you don't wait until you arrive at school to order.

Lynn O'Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also write a college blog for TheCollegeSolutionBlog.

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