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Friday, October 7, 2011

Frugal Friday: Saving Money on Textbooks

Textbooks: Money-Saving Tips for College Students

Frugal Friday is a weekly post, which will examine the many ways in which you can save and spend money more wisely as a college student.

Click the "Continue Reading" link below to learn how to save money on Textbooks.

Three Steps to Saving Money on Textbooks

Pro Tip: At the start of each quarter, ask your professor if older editions would suffice for the course work you need to accomplish (they're cheaper). Sometimes a new edition will be EXACTLY the same as previous ones, with only an extra chapter or two added, or they may have the same information, but provide different examples – in which case you are introduced to a few more examples than the rest of the class, sweet!

1. Rent Books
Estimated Savings: ~$25-250+ per quarter 
There are many ways to go about this – some are completely free, others simply save you a little bit of money. 
  • Rent from the Library. If the library doesn't have it, No problem! We have what is called an Inter-Library Loan system, in which you can rent any book from any college in Ohio, you simply request it, and it's shipped to Alden Library for you to pick up.
    To do this, search OhioLINK for the book, then request the book be sent to OU's library after filling in your information. Once you receive the book, simply renew it before the due date every few weeks – you can generally do this for the entire quarter with no problems. I have saved over $250 in a single quarter by renting all of my books from the library.
    (If you're having trouble, ask a librarian for help - they are an amazing resource!)
      • Pro Tip: Sometimes you might find that you rented a book that is in high demand, and you can't renew it. Just go and request another order of the same book so that you can take it out when the other is due. Also, AVOID LATE FEES with inter-library loans – they're 50 cents each day overdue, and $50 after 1 month (no negotiating this), effectively wiping out any savings you may have made.
    • Rent from the Library Part II. Many professors put a copy of the required books in the library for students to take-out. At the beginning of the quarter, simply ask your professors if they will “put a copy on reserve at the Library,” they will know what you are talking about. Then you just go to the Library's service desk, tell them you want a book on reserves for whatever course or professor, and you're good to go.
    • Rent Online or Locally. CheggAmazon, and other sites; many local bookstores lend books as well. First figure out how much it will cost you – you may be able to save more money by buying and reselling it yourself.
      2. Buy E-Books
      Estimated Savings: ~$10-150+ per quarter
      E-books are always cheaper than new paper or hardback copies, and often cheaper than used copies as well.

      E-books aren’t just for people with Kindles, Nooks, iPads, and so on, either. If you have your own personal laptop or desktop computer, Amazon has (the FREE) Kindle for the PC, and there is also (FREE) epub software and books, so that you can read them without an E-ink or E-reader device.

      3. Buy used
      Estimated Savings: ~$25-150+ per quarter
      This one is fairly obvious. Here is what to look for when buying used books:
      • Local book stores. Here you have the advantage of seeing exactly what type of condition the book is in. 
        • Pro Tip: Skim through the pages to make sure it looks intact (and if applicable, make sure it has any CDs or DVDs you might need, and that they aren’t scratched to hell with apple juice all over them).
        • Pro Tip: Look for highlights and notes – these might actually come in handy and may help you find the important information you need. As you’ll learn, skimming and finding the important stuff can be a better technique than reading EVERYTHING. Make sure it looks like the individual did a good job highlighting important stuff – read a page or two. If everything is marked up with no rhyme or reason, don’t get it, as this doesn’t help you out at all.
      • Online (e.g. Amazon, EBay, etc.).
        You can usually find books for much cheaper online than in the local bookstores.
        * Look for trusted sellers who have a high rating, and check for information about the condition of the book. If it's in bad condition, you may have trouble reselling it again later.

      • From other StudentsDo you know anyone who took the class last quarter with the same professor? If so, you might be able to pay them a cheap price to get the book (maybe what the stores would buy them back for, or even cheaper). 

      How do you feel about textbook prices, and do you have any of your own tricks to saving money on them? Have you tried any of the above? Use the comments below to ask questions or share some of your own experiences, tips, or tricks.