Choosing to pursue a college education is a big decision, and can be expensive. Although there are many financial aid programs available, including grants and scholarships, that can make tuition more affordable, the cost of course materials such as textbooks can add up. How can you save money on books?
The most obvious answer is to buy used books. Some college bookstores will purchase old books from students and resell them at discounted prices. This can be a great way of saving valuable dollars on course materials, especially if you're lucky enough to attend a university with a larger bookstore. If you can't find the books you need in the college bookstore, many university towns have independent booksellers that also offer a wide range of used books.
Another option is to buy your textbooks online. Some smaller retailers can afford to discount the price of the titles they carry as they don't have the kinds of financial overheads associated with running a physical bookstore. Larger online retailers often offer discounts to students, which can be another way to reduce your expenses. Websites such as Amazon also allow independent retailers to sell their merchandise through the main site, which can sometimes lead to heavily discounted titles. If you choose to buy your books online, try to order as many as you can in a single transaction to reduce shipping costs. If you only need one or two books, ask your classmates if they plan on ordering books online, and combine your orders to further cut the cost of shipping and handling fees.
Some college students also share textbooks. While this can be one of the most effective ways of reducing the cost of course materials, it can also be inconvenient, especially if students need to use the book at the same time. However, sharing books can significantly reduce the price of textbooks, especially if several of you share the initial cost of the book. If you decide to take this route, ask your classmates if they would be willing to share the cost of secondhand books, as this can save even more money.
You may find that many university texts are also available as eBooks. These tend to be much cheaper than hard copies, and can be a convenient way to access your course materials from your computer or smartphone. Depending on the format, you can even share a single eBook across several devices. And, of course, they're much lighter than carrying around heavy textbooks.