How to Save Money on Textbooks

The school year is about to begin. You look over the list of books that you need to buy for your upcoming classes. Your heart sinks. It is just SLIGHTLY more, as in much, much more, than you budgeted for textbooks. What can you do to reduce the costs of your books?

The crucial element to buying your books inexpensively is your time frame. If today is Friday and your classes start on Monday, you will probably be limited to your college bookstore where the likelihood of finding a used book is slim. You can try other college book stores or used book stores in your area, but you are probably going to be tied up with other things if you are starting school in a couple of days. In order to buy textbooks at a discounted price, you must plan in advance.

Buying books online can save you a lot of money, particularly if you want new books. If you go to your favorite online bookstore, you will see that most of the bigger names offer not only discounts, but free shipping if you purchase $25 or more in their “free shipping category” of books. Lead time to get your books is going to vary according to the textbook’s availability, but in general, you will have your books within about a week.

Now, if you are willing to buy used books, it is going to be a whole different ball game for you. Most of the major online bookstores offer used books. To get more comparisons, type “used textbooks online” or “discounted textbooks online” into your favorite search engine and hit enter. A whole bunch of options are going to pop up for you to explore.

My ace in the whole as far as used books is Half.com, a business that is part of eBay. I generally find the least expensive books on this site whenever I want to buy a used book. However, finding a cheap textbook is not the only factor here. First off, you should consider how much damage and highlighting that you are willing to accept, given the fact that you will not be able to actually see the book until after you have bought it. Second, you will have to pay shipping on used books. Most of the used books sellers on these sites are actually individuals or other businesses that pay a commission to the bookstores for listing their used books. Your books will be coming from different locations. Finally, unless you are willing to pay extra, your books will be shipped via media mail, the least expensive option. However, the least expensive option is takes the longest to arrive, sometimes as long as two weeks.

To give you an idea of how to figure out where to buy your books, I picked five online bookstores to compare, Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, Valore.com, Ecampus.com, and Half.com. I checked the prices for “Principles of Marketing, 10th Edition,” by Phillip Kotler and Gary Armstrong, with a list price of $136.67. Prices on these websites ranged from a high of $136.67 with free shipping (Amazon) for a new book to a low of $14.99 with a $3.25 shipping charge for a text in “acceptable” condition (Half). If you research each book that you need to buy, you stand to save yourself considerable money. Make sure that you consider packaging combinations of books through different sites to save yourself even more money.

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