The Unexpected Expense of College Textbooks

It’s hard to plan for every expense that a college student can incur.  But everyone knows that they will need textbooks for each and every semester.  Many people are surprised at the unexpected expense of college textbooks.  Probably the easiest way to get your textbooks is from your campus bookstore, but there are many ways you can save money while shopping for your college textbooks.

Order your college textbooks from the college bookstore

By far the easiest way to get your college textbooks each and every semester is to order them from your college’s campus bookstore.  Usually, this process is just a few simple clicks and you can walk in the first day of class and pick up every book you need in a nice little shrink-wrapped pile.  It’s easy!  But it will also be the most expensive way to obtain your college textbooks.

Even buying your textbooks from the campus bookstore may offer some money saving options.  For instance, many bookstores will also allow you to rent textbooks for the semester.  You may even be able to purchase a used textbook instead of a new textbook for a particular class.  So, don’t rule out the campus bookstore, it is definitely the easiest option if you are willing to pay a little bit more for your textbooks.

Order your college textbooks online

For those with a more adventurous (read frugal) spirit, there are other options for acquiring your college textbooks.  You can buy your textbooks from multiple online vendors.  This method requires some time and effort.  It’s definitely not the easiest way of gathering your college textbooks, but it can reap a load of savings.  Here are a few of the ways college students are saving on their textbooks:

  • Amazon Search: The easiest way is to use a source like Amazon Marketplace.  A quick search of the ISBN will show multiple vendors with varying prices.
  • Internet Search: If you want to widen your search a bit, simple type in the ISBN in your favorite browser.  You will find pages of resources ready to sell you that specific textbook.  Just make sure you get the correct edition of the text.
  • College Classifieds Search: Another resource may be your college’s classified listing.  Students from the previous semester may be looking to sell their slightly used books.

Many people are taking advantage of these money saving tips on college textbooks.  In 2016, the national average for a student’s annual textbook expense was $602.00.  That’s a 14% decrease of the national expense of 2007-2008.  This may be the only area of college expense that is decreasing!