The college textbook industry also appears to be keeping students from saving money by using such tactics as college specific books, book bundling and eTextbooks, all of which raise prices.
However, there are options, ways you can save that the college textbook industry doesn't want you to know about, including price comparison websites CheapestTextbooks.com and TextbookRentals.com. Both free services help students locate the cheapest prices for books.
Here's his 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. They take a commonly used textbook and have it printed with the college name and course number on the cover. This gives the book a new ISBN (international standard book number) that is typically only available at the college it was made for.
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. These bundles often include items the professors aren't even using.
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. Older editions often cost less than $25.
- 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. If you have the option, buy the hard cover or paperback, which will typically be much cheaper.
- 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 - Don't worry too much about getting your books before classes start. If you don't mind a little inconvenience, then wait until you're a couple of days into the school year before buying. The professor might even tell you that you don't need the book. If it's required, you can shop online and still have the book within a couple of days.