Why are textbooks so expensive?Before we can look at anything else here, it is important to talk about why books are so expensive so you can find the right way to beat around the scheme. Coming straight out of high school, where you only had a small (in comparison) book rental fee each year, it can be quite shocking to see your textbook bill come to a total of $500 in many cases. The reason for this is quite simple. College is at a higher level, books are not provided by the school like your high school did, and book companies know the demand is high for textbooks. Therefore, simple economics will tell us what the price is high because demand is high (and supply is limited).
Enough with the economics lesson. You want to have something to learn from your ECON 101 textbook.
Do you need the book? My short answer is: yes. You need the book because it is required. You are already paying a lot to go to school, you should take full advantage of your educational opportunities and get the book because you can.
Just like you should take advantage of the extras your tuition money pays for, you should also buy the book and take advantage of the added academic benefit as well.
Now you’re probably starting at the price tag and hoping the long answer has a better answer for you. Luckily for you, it does.
Long answer: You probably don’t need all the books, and if you do, there are ways to cut the cost.
Share the book
This is a common practice and recommended by nearly every college professional in existence. If you can split the cost of the book with someone else in your same class (like a roommate), you will clearly save money. You need to work out a schedule so you each have equal and adequate study time with the book, but that shouldn’t be too hard to work out. You’ll both likely be fully willing to give the other person the book – just maybe not during finals week.
Don’t buy from the school bookstore
Buying used books instead of new can save you a lot of money.
That $500 price tag I keep mentioning is probably there because you are on the university’s bookstore. That store is good for one thing and one thing only: getting your book list. And that’s assuming your school is like mine and send you there to see what books you need for class. Otherwise, you don’t need that bookstore at all.
Instead, you have many options. A quick Google search for something like “cheap college textbooks” reveals many sites that will likely be cheaper than your school’s prices. My personal favorite is Amazon and is my go-to site when it is book buying season.
My total cost at the university bookstore is right at $500, and that’s for just 4 textbooks. My total cost at Amazon is under $100 – $98 to be exact.
That’s an incredible deal, one that is too good to pass up.
Look for an access codeIf your book comes with an access code, you need to make sure you get it. You can spot an access code easily because there is usually an extra fee for the code in the price or it will say “w/ code” in the book title. Unfortunately, these codes are single use and that means you will likely have to buy from the bookstore on this one.
So what can you do in this situation? Wait. Wait till you get to class and see what your professor says.
They will probably tell you what book you need, what you’ll use it for, etc. on the first day and then you can decide if you need the code and the book, just the book, or nothing at all for that class.
It wouldn’t be a terrible idea to wait for all of your classes.That way, you can find out what your professor expects (will there be regular reading, reading quizzes, heavy reading questions on exams, etc.) in addition to finding out about an access code and you can even have an opportunity to find someone to share the book with (which can be hard to do before you even go to class).
Of course, this means you actually have to go to class on the first day.
But you planned on doing that anyways, right?
Yes, you probably need most of the books on your list. But there are ways to lessen your cost and you may not need all of them. Play it smart and you can save money while still acing the class. If you’re lucky, all the material will be online and there won’t even be an assigned book for your class at all!