Wednesday, September 12, 2012

4 Ways to Save Money on Expensive College Textbooks

iPad vs. Textbooks
iPad vs. Textbooks (Photo credit: Abstract Machine)
In another week my kids will be returning to college. Besides paying the tuition and fee's, colleges have to gouge you one more time by charging insane prices for textbooks. For many years the college bookstore has been the only source of these books but thankfully things have changed.

A course my daughter had to take called for an expensive book for her Chemistry class. The college bookstore wanted to charge $226 for it. Today, if I went on Amazon the book was going for $147. A third party vendor on the Amazon Marketplace was selling the same book for $98. Not bad. But lets try for a better deal.

A real lifesaver for parents and students is the companies that rent text books. This expanding and growing business has exploded because it has provided students with their required textbooks for a price which is at a fraction of the cost of a new book purchase. The required chemistry text book mention previously rents for $24 at many textbook rental websites. That's an overall savings of $202, wow!

Textbooks have become a commodity. The same version of textbook, rented by many online sources allows the costs to come down. The success of the textbook rental business has made them affordable again. Now it's just a game to find the cheapest source for your textbook. To save money sourcing your textbooks I have listed a few tips to help you get started.

Shop early. Campus bookstores usually carry a good number of used books, but if students wait too long, they could be forced to go new or look elsewhere.


1. Look online. This is pretty obvious, but there are still some students who go by the book and buy all their books at the bookstore. Be careful of shipping costs; most big rental websites offer free shipping, but buying new and used could incur big shipping costs. Amazon is the kingpin, but Half.com, AbeBooks.com, or BigWords.com may have better deals, depending on what students are looking for.

2. Go digital. Electronic textbooks are really starting to become more of a factor in the textbook world. E-readers are gaining popularity and offer students an easy and convenient book-reading experience. It's important to look at software requirements, however, as some computers can't run certain book software. E-books usually don't come with access codes or accompanying CDs, either.

3. Don't buy, rent. Renting books can save a lot of money, that's no secret. Renting also eliminates the dreadful book-selling process at the end of the semester. CampusBookRentals, Chegg, and BookRenter are the big players in the rental business, and those companies advertise up to 90 percent in savings over the retail cost of books. Don't miss the due dates because there are late fees and they can make a dent in the savings.

4. Save your receipts. The American Opportunity Tax Credit may be available to students who qualify because of textbook and other out-of-pocket higher educational expenses.

Students can save up to $2,500 on their 2012 federal taxes and up to 40 percent is refundable. The full $2,500 is available to those who pay $4,000 or more in qualified expenses for an eligible student.

Another avenue for textbook shopping seems to be on the horizon. PostYourBook.com is a social networking website dedicated to connecting users so that they are able to buy and sell textbooks with each other. Students are able to search textbooks and find the best possible price, and then exchange books with other students from their school.

My hope for the future is for textbooks to go totally digital. Apple Computers new platform for digital textbooks is incredible. An entire textbook can be uploaded to an iPad. It has the entire book and also the capability to have video and audio. For an affordable rental fee a textbook can be used by a student during the semester and afterwards can be erased when the semester is up. This purely electronic supplying of textbooks would be environmentally better and increase the bottom line for textbook providers. And of course save parents lots of money.

4 comments:

  1. Truly, college doesn't come cheap nowadays. Tuition fees always go up plus the books and allowances parents give to their kids. It really is a burden but there are actually a lot of ways to save as mentioned in this post. Most parents don't bother to check the net for other options but they can actually find a lot in there like this very informative blog post. Thanks a bunch for this.

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  2. College expenses are growing every year. the best way to head them off is to be prepared. It's something that should of happen long ago.

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  3. To save, what we do is we buy those textbook from the graduates. Anyway, it's indeed true that expenses in college are growing. Thanks for the tips by the way.

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  4. Renting books can save a lot of money, that's no secret. Renting also eliminates the dreadful book-selling process at the end of the semester. CampusBookRentals, Chegg, and BookRenter are the big players in the rental business, and those companies advertise up to 90 percent in savings over the retail cost of books.

    ReplyDelete

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