Getting Around High Cost of College Textbooks

Author  Edited from an article featuring opinions by Chris Manns, through News and Experts. Manns is managing director of and

A recent study by the United States Government Accountability office showed that the average prices for college textbooks have risen 82 percent in just 10 years.

college textbooksHowever, there are options, ways you can save, including price comparison websites and Both free services help students locate the cheapest prices for books.

Here's a list of the ways the college textbook industry gets you to pay more, and some tips for paying less:

  • College specific books - Colleges have started asking students to buy college specific books.
  • The workaround - Ask the professor if it's O.K. to use the book's common version. It'll be the exact same.  When you rent or buy it online, you'll be able to rent or buy it used from anybody.

* Book bundling - Students are sometimes required to buy a "book bundle" with extra class materials that add to the cost.

The workaround – E-mail the professor or wait until the class starts and ask if the professor will be using the supplemental material. If the answer is no, then buy just the textbook online.

  • New Editions - Publishers release new versions of books every few years, even though little changes. Usually, buying an older edition gives you the information you need.
  • eTextbooks - eTextbooks are usually more expensive than buying a book used or renting it, and they typically expire after six months or a year.

The workaround - Shop around. Most eTextbooks are available from multiple sellers.

  • Timing - Sometimes students don't learn what textbooks they need until a couple of weeks before classes start, giving them little time to shop around.

The workaround - If you don't mind a little inconvenience, then wait until you're a couple of days into the school year before buying. If it's required, you can shop online and still have the book within a couple of days.