He worked out a system of borrowing books from upperclassmen,
offering nominal compensation to get them to delay selling them
"My calculus book that usually costs $180, I got for the semester
for $10 and a Chick-fil-A biscuit," says Schroeder, 19, who attends
Covenant College in Georgia.
Required texts for his last semester would have cost $430, he says.
He spent $120.
The College Board says the average student will spend more than
$1,200 a year on textbooks and school supplies, but students have a
variety of options for managing these costs.
Online outlets and creative approaches like Schroeder's are
increasingly the go-to choices for students. Renting textbooks is on
the rise, allowing students to use a book for the semester, often at
a significant discount to buying.
Neebo Inc, which operates more than 250 campus bookstores, says
textbook rentals have doubled since 2011. Industry research shows
that about one-fourth of books at college bookstores in this past
spring semester were rented, says Neebo Vice President Trevor Meyer.
Fewer than half of all texts are purchased at campus bookstores,
according to the National Association of College Stores trade
Here is the 101 on the best ways to score a deal.
Some new book prices can be one-third of what you might find at the
campus bookstore if you go online. The ninth edition of "Calculus"
by Ron Larson, Bruce Edwards, and Robert Hostetler carries a list
price of nearly $290 but can be purchased new for $239.99 at
specialty textbook retailer Chegg.com.
If you do not mind other people's notes or wear and tear, used texts
are a good option. "Calculus" is selling for $93.49 used on
Matt Casady, 25, a senior at Brigham Young University, says he had
paid 42 cents on Amazon.com for a used copy of "Strategic Media
Decisions: Understanding The Business End Of The Advertising
Business." The book was selling for $48 new.
Academics like Ingrid Bracey, director of the University of
Massachusetts at Amherst's College Without Walls, suggest students
check with their professors to see if previous editions are
acceptable. (Sometimes the updates are not relevant to the classwork.)
If so, old editions can often be found for a tiny fraction of the
cost of the latest version. Besides Chegg and Amazon, eBay Inc's
Half.com is a popular alternative for used books.
[to top of second column]
Renting your textbooks is worth considering if you take reasonable
care of them, you remember to return them and you do not care to own
them after you complete the class.
You can save more than 80 percent of the cost of buying a book new.
For example, a student could rent "Calculus" for the length of the
semester for about $20.
Know the rules of the store you rent from, including any penalties
you could be assessed for taking notes, highlighting, or wear and
Renter, beware: If you fail to return the book, penalties can
actually exceed the cost of buying it new.
Getting e-books instead of traditional texts is another option.
Sometimes those books are essentially rented by providing the
electronic license for a specific period from distributors such as
Amazon.com, Chegg and Barnes & Noble Inc.
Chegg will rent "Calculus" for six months for about $61.
Bracey says students in literature classes can often find the best
bargains since many classics are now available to download for free,
while science and engineering texts can be extremely expensive.
No matter what, shop around. Joe Gault, 29, who is about to enter
Pepperdine Law School, recommends using the ISBN number to price
books since it ensures you are shopping for the right text.
Before ordering online, Gault says, be sure to check if the book is
actually in stock. He learned that lesson the hard way. A book he
purchased was back-ordered for four weeks, and he ended up paying
full price at the college bookstore.
(This version of the story corrects spelling of Casady to remove
extra letter in paragraph 12.)
(Editing by Lauren Young and Lisa Von Ahn)
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