• Don’t buy every book on the recommended textbook list. Wait until the first day of class and see what books your Prof requires versus recommends. Then network with people that have already taken the same course and ask them how much they actually used the “recommended books.” You may be able to avoid buying the recommended texts altogether. • Share resources. Sometimes your Prof may use a text in such a limited manner that several students can jointly purchase the text, and then share it or photo copy only the pages that the coursework actually requires. • Form a book-sharing club. If you share a dorm with or otherwise know students who share your major – including basic studies – find a book-sharing “club.” People in the group can share books with each other, or buy and sell books to “club members” at fair prices. Some campuses and university organizations have more sophisticated online versions of these groups, and a number have sprung up on social media outlets like Facebook. If you can’t find one at your school, start one. • Borrow from the library. In some cases, you may be able to use textbooks on reserve in the library for FREE. Unfortunately, many Profs don’t put books on reserve, and when they do the number of copies is limited. • Buy a prior edition of the textbook. If a new edition has just been released for one of the textbooks on your list, compare it carefully with the last edition. Typically the changes are subtle and insignificant. Buying older versions of the same book can save you hundreds of dollars. Check with your Prof – if the older version will do, then go for it. The only caveat is that you won’t be able to sell the book back to a bookstore, so buy the book cheap, and be prepared to sell it directly to another student the next time the same course is offered. • Buy your books in e-book format. At CourseSmart.com, five major textbook publishers have teamed up to make thousands of textbooks available in the less expensive e-book format. The books are accessible on any electronic gadget equipped with the appropriate app. • Rent your books in e-book format. Sites like Amazon.com allow you to rent textbooks in e-book format for specific periods of time at up to 80% of the list price for hardcover. You don’t have to own a Kindle to read the rented books because they can be accessed using free Kindle reading apps for PC, Mac, iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, and Android-based devices. • Buy textbooks online. Online textbook sites typically offer significant reductions off retail bookstore prices. The grace period for full refunds on purchases is longer than at many college bookstores, and buy back policies are generally more generous. One downside is that you need to plan ahead so that you don’t receive your books several weeks into the semester. • Comparison shop. The Internet is great for comparison shopping. Go to your on-campus bookstore and write down the ISBN numbers and prices for both new and used books, and then use that information to shop online. Comparison shopping sites like book.ly and SwoopThat can save you time. One site focuses on textbooks in all formats, and the other quickly allows you to compare prices for the books you’ll need based on the courses you’re taking. • Rent. Besides the initial cost, the other problem with buying books is the disappointing return you get when you sell them back, which in some cases can be extremely disappointing if the book has been released in a new edition. For substantial savings and to avoid the “buy-back” trap, rent. Over the past several years, a number of book rental sites have become popular - Chegg.com, CampusBookRentals.com, and BookRenter.com are a few. And often you can find discounts and shipping deals on promotion code sites buying or renting textbooks online even more cost effective. • Be a savvy book seller. The on-campus bookstore and retail chains will only give you a fraction of what you paid for your textbooks when you’re done with them. Instead, sell your books directly to students who need a good deal on your used textbooks, or sell them online through sites such as Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and eCampus.com.
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