A Brief Guide for Saving Money on College Textbooks

Dear College Made Simple Reader,

Textbooks are a huge part of students’ budgets. These days you could pay upwards of $150 — even for a used book.

Some estimates peg students’ college textbook costs at $700-$1,100 per year. For some students it’s much more than that.

Luckily, the number of options for textbook savings is growing all the time. Here are just a few ways savvy college students avoid big bills at the book store:

– Scott

A Brief Guide for Saving Money on College Textbooks

For starters, check your campus for a book exchange.

Book exchanges across the country form a network to buy and sell used books. They can buy back more books and access more used copies of the titles you need because of their connections with other sellers.

As with any used book, you’ll pay a discounted price – and the exchange makes it that much more likely you can resell the book at the end of the semester.

The internet also has a variety of opportunities to find the lowest prices available on textbooks…

Online Discount Booksellers:

Some online booksellers offer college books at a heavy discount as well. Always remember to research any online vendor before buying, but also keep in mind that most reputable sites will provide easy access to inexpensive textbooks.

Two examples are the web sites alibris.com, which has been in business since 1998 and has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and abebooks.com – in business since 1995 and now a subsidiary of Amazon.com.

Like the book exchange, online booksellers can work with many sources to pair buyers and sellers on an even larger scale. The savings can be significant… sometimes up to 80-90% off list prices.

But some students are fed up with the uncertainty of buying and selling back their books. Increasingly students are turning to a recent trend…

Textbook Rental:

Many students are using book rental services that charge about half off the list price per book. They save some money up front and don’t even have to worry about selling their books back at the end of the semester.

Just pack them up and ship them out.

You can find textbook rentals in some stand alone stores near campuses, and also online at sites like chegg.com. Again, research sites before you use their services, but many students are finding book rental to be a less expensive option without the risk.


With the rise of tablet PCs and e-readers, the market for electronic textbooks is on the rise. Besides cutting down on the weight of your book bag, e-books can lighten your book cost burden as well.

Not every textbook is available in e-book form, but when they are the savings can be huge. Some online retailers sell e-books at a 30-50% discount over the listed price.

I hope you can see that with a bit of research, buying your books doesn’t have to break the bank.

To your college funding & admissions success,

Scott Weingold

Co-Founder, College Planning Network LLC

Publisher, CollegeMadeSimple.com – The free educational resource of College Planning Network

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Editor's Note: Scott Weingold has been ranked the #1 “College Financial Aid Expert Worth Knowing About” in the entire country by CollegeStats.org.  He has co-authored the book, “The Real Secret To Paying For College. The Insider’s Guide To Sending Your Child To College – Without Spending Your Life’s Savings.” Scott also publishes a popular free online newsletter, “College Funding Made Simple" which reveals insider’s tips, methods, and strategies for beating the high cost of college.

Scott is the co-founder and a principal of the widely renown College Planning Network, LLC – the nation’s largest and most reputable college admissions and financial aid planning firm. CPN is a proud member of the Better Business Bureau, the National Association of College Funding Advisors, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Scott, along with his college funding advisory team, helps thousands of families throughout the country with their college planning needs and offers a series of free educational webinars and workshops on “How To Pay For College Without Going Broke In The Process!” He's been featured or mentioned in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Yahoo News, TheStreet.com, Voice America with Ron Adams, Crains Cleveland Business, and on Cleveland Connection with James McIntyre.  Scott has published numerous articles and is a professional speaker who has addressed thousands of audiences online and offline throughout the United States.  His actionable insights and candid, open approach have earned him & his team numerous media interviews, citations, and speaking opportunities, and his free online video workshop is one of the Internet’s most widely viewed pieces in the college funding space.