By Nancy Clement & Dawn Clement
September 8, 2009 (San Diego’s East County)--Any college student will tell you that textbooks are expensive, and the cost is continuing to rise each year. According to the PIRG Higher Education Project (www.pirg.org/highered), college students spend an average of $900 on textbooks each year.
In today's economy, the cost of textbooks is a severe burden on students who are already struggling financially. It is estimated that 23% of students don't purchase required books due to the costs, which hampers the learning process and is not a good solution to the problem. Fortunately, there are other solutions to this problem.
Buying used books is a good start, but many textbooks are not available used. New editions of most textbooks are published approximately every three years, and students are often told to buy the most recent edition, which means buying new books. Before you spend the extra cash for the latest edition, do a little research and find out what changes have been made since the previous edition. If the changes are minor, you may be able to use the older edition and save some money. Check with your instructor to make sure that it is okay with them.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are assigned a new edition, don't panic! Believe it or not, the best price may not be found at the campus book store. Do a little research online to find the best price on a specific textbook. Just be sure to factor in the shipping costs – some sites offer free shipping, but most do not, and shipping charges can be very high.
There are numerous web sites whose sole purpose is to help you find the best deal on textbooks. Some are commercial sites, such as eCampus (www.ecampus.com) and Amazon (www.amazon.com). Amazon has a special section just for textbooks and up to 90% savings on used textbooks! Other sites, such as Campus Books (www.campusbooks.com) and BigWords (www.bigwords.com) are actually elaborate search engines that compare prices at other Web Sites. Both of these sites will also assist students in selling their textbooks at the end of the semester by using the search engine to find the best prices.
Commercial web sites usually include a section for students to buy and sell textbooks directly to each other. This process is referred to as “book swapping.” In addition to the book-swapping sections of the commercial web sites (eCampus has a book swap section), there are also non-commercial sites that offer free book-swap services. Worth checking out is Campus Book Swap www.campusbookswap.com), which is sponsored by PIRG.
College students, and their parents, have enough to worry about, without adding the stress of wondering how they are going to pay for their textbooks. Invest a little time in shopping around, and it can really pay off for you and your wallet!
Mission Statement: Share creative ideas to assist people of all ages on tips to save money and improve their lifestyle.
Nancy Clement is an east county Realtor®, mortgage broker and freelance writer.
Dawn Clement is a stay-at-home mother of three, freelance writer, and creative shopper.