Learn for Less: 7 Ways to Save Money on Textbooks This School Year

The back-to-school season is here and, for college students, that often means shelling out money for textbooks. In 2015-16, the average student spent $602 on books and course materials, according to the National Association of College Stores. The most expensive textbooks carried a price tag of $145 on average.

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Fortunately, finding ways to save on textbooks can be easier than you’d think. Before you head to the campus bookstore, check out these tips that could help you save money on textbooks.

1. Save money on textbooks by shopping online.

The internet can be a great tool for scouting out deals on college textbooks. Sites like half.com, Chegg.com and Textbooks.com all offer textbooks at a discount. You could also check out the deals at Amazon.com. If you sign up for a Prime Student membership, you could save up to 90% on textbooks. If you don’t want to pay the $49 annual fee, you could still save on textbooks if you use a student credit card to shop at Amazon.com.

2. Hit the secondhand shops.

Browsing through your local thrift or secondhand shops is another way to potentially save on textbooks. You could find the books you need at a discounted rate. Just remember to compare the edition of the book you’re buying to the one listed on your class syllabus to make sure it’s not significantly out-of-date.

3. Try the library.

If you’re trying to spend less on textbooks, don’t forget to visit your campus library. You may be able to find copies of the texts you need, and it won’t cost anything to check them out. Again, just remember to check which editions the library offers, since there may be slight differences between older and newer versions.

In 2015-16, the average student spent $602 on books and course materials, according to the National Association of College Stores.

4. Rent instead.

Renting your textbooks could also save you some money, and it spares you the trouble of having to resell your books once the semester is over. Chegg, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and TextbookRentals.com all feature rental services. If you’re renting, check out how long you can keep the book before it must be returned to make sure it fits with your class schedule. You may also want to look at whether you have the option to buy the book before the rental period ends.

5. Find a book buddy.

If you’ve got a friend or a classmate who’s taking some of the same classes, setting up a book-sharing routine could be a great and simple way to save on textbooks. You can each chip in money toward purchasing or renting the necessary books, and then work out a schedule for sharing them. The key is to make sure you’re splitting the cost and the use of the book fairly to avoid any conflicts.

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6. Go digital.

Choosing electronic versions of your textbooks means you don’t have to lug them around on campus, and it could also put less strain on your textbook budget. Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and Chegg carry digital as well as paper versions of textbooks for various e-readers.

7. Bargain hunt.

Bargain groups allow members to post just about anything for sale online, including used textbooks. Most sellers will likely require you to pay in cash, but you could find some decent deals if you’re willing to spend the time checking out what’s for sale in different groups. As you’re shopping around, see if there’s a bargain group set up specifically for your school. Not only could you find textbooks for sale, but you may see postings for things like furniture, electronics or other items students are looking to unload quickly.

When you need to save on textbooks, it pays to look into all of your options. It may take a little more legwork on your part, but giving these tips a try could mean spending less as you start the school year.

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