Sunday, March 01, 2009

Save Thousands On Textbooks



Textbooks demand scandalously high prices these days. It's nothing for math and science texts to cost more than $150 apiece, and list price on some books has soared to more than $200! That means that today's college students can easily spend well over $1000 or more on textbooks alone in a single year.

Excerpts from a recent article in the Pittsburg Post-Gazzette:

Like college tuition, the price of textbooks has soared faster than inflation. From 1986 to 2004, textbook prices nearly tripled, according to a Government Accountability Office report in 2005.

Nationwide, the GAO figured that textbooks were about a fourth of the cost of tuition and fees at four-year public colleges and universities and as much as three-quarters of the cost of tuition and fees at two-year public institutions.

Fortunately, there's a simple way to avoid falling victim to the college textbook extortion racket: ditch the college bookstore ... and buy new, used, or previous editions online!

Over the course of a four year college education, this tip plus a little disciplined research could easily save students and parents thousands of dollars.

Start by putting together a reliable list of the exact titles and ISBN numbers of all textbooks you'll be required to obtain for your classes during the upcoming semester (give yourself more time to save money and avoid problems by doing this as far in advance as possible).

To begin shopping, first search for the books you need by title, author, and/or ISBN on Amazon. It's possible to save nearly 30% or more when buying new books through Amazon or other online book dealers instead of at college bookstores, and even more (over 70%!) by buying used books online (at amazon, just click on the "... used" link a few inches below the title on the book's product page).

In addition to amazon, a host of online textbook price comparison sites like DealOz, CheapestTextbooks, and BookFinder enable one to directly compare prices of new and used textbooks offered for sale online at drastically reduced prices.

The latest edition of a given text is, of course, going to be the most expensive. But if the course instructor will allow students to use a previous edition rather than the most current one (it doesn't hurt to ask!), you could save nearly 70% on a brand new book by buying it online.

When buying textbooks online, whether new or used, it's a good idea to buy only from highly rated merchants (DealOz and Amazon provide this important information when doing book searches; CheapestTextbooks and BookFinder do not); otherwise, if your books don't arrive in a timely fashion or in acceptable condition, you may have to procure them again in great haste and at full retail price through the college bookstore.

And don't forget the option of selling your textbooks after you no longer have a need for them! Amazon makes this easy, and doing so could recoup much of the money you've had to spend (even after highlighting and marking your books, you'll still be able to get something for them by passing them along to another buyer).

The movement to lower textbook prices is growing fast. Some university professors are fighting back, opting to use free and low-cost online resources rather than force students to get ripped off at the college store. Aside from saving a pile of wallet green, buying used books online is also environmentally greener than purchasing brand new books to be used only for a short time and then discarded.

Save a bundle ... buy texts online!

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