College Prep 101: How to Save on Textbooks

You've just gotten the required list of textbooks for your child's first year of college. You open the list, preparing for all the extras that college life brings, but no amount of prepping will prepare you until you for the cost of textbooks.

Textbooks can run hundreds of dollars... really?! Yup, but here are a few tips I've learned for cutting costs over the last couple of years.

Before you start looking at buying them other places, lets look at the options:

Rent: You rent the textbook and have use of it for the class. It is usually at a somewhat reduced cost and you return it at the end of the semester. You loose out on any money put into the book.

New: Brand-spanking-new textbooks are sometimes a requirement for classes. Many current textbooks coming out have key codes that come with them that unlock online or digital information. If you don't require a new textbook, I'd consider used.

Used: Previously-owned and just like cars, you don't have to pay the upfront cost of a "new" book. Often these can be found through the college bookstore and online retailers (see below) and sometimes your student can get them from fellow students who just looking to unload their books at a much-reduced cost at the end of the year. Sometimes, the needed key code for newer textbooks can be found online for purchase.


We end up searching a lot of online retailers and comparing prices. WARNING: CHECK EDITION NUMBERS! There can be many different editions of the same book, including editions that are printed in Canada and Europe. If you have a question about the book edition, and whether a specific edition is needed it's best to email the teacher in advance. Better safe than sorry.

These are just two of the places that we look at for books:

*ABE BOOKS: I love ABE Books. They bring together a host of online used book resellers and give them a venue for listing books. You can find the same textbook in several editions, several shipping locations and prices. Many of the books can be found with free shipping, but the cost is usually built into the textbook. The books are rated according to condition. I've found them to be reliable and helpful. HINT: SEARCH BY ISBN. This will make your search a lot faster.

*AMAZON: They carry textbooks from their own warehouses, along with many retailers who list on Amazon. They are at a lower rate then buying new from the college stores or even ordering new from retailers. Again, watch the rating for the book, the edition number and condition. HINT: AMAZON GIFT CARDS ARE GREAT FOR PURCHASING TEXTBOOKS!

Getting your student ready for college can be overwhelming. I hope this helps!

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