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Every year students notice an increase in their tuition. Then they go to the bookstore and see an increase in their textbook prices as well. It can be very frustrating for students having to pay tons of money for a book they’ll likely use only for four months. But when the professor requires the textbook to complete class, what can you do?
Why are textbooks so expensive? There are a few factors that contribute to the rising cost. As you would expect, the people behind the creation of the book need to make some money. The publisher takes a significant portion of the profits. Since there is the demand for textbooks and not a very competitive publisher market, the publishers can get away with having higher prices.
You’ll also notice publishers releasing new editions of the same textbook. Updates need to happen, especially in fields like medicine, but that also allows the publisher to charge more money for the added cost of updating.
Maclean’s laid out the most expensive schools for books, and which programs have the most expensive books. Those are pretty high numbers for poor university students. So, what do you do?
Photo by: Gobba-1720
Try Renting Books
Unless you’re like me, that needs to buy them because you keep saying you’ll reread some of those interesting textbooks later on (even though we all know they’re only collecting dust), take a look at the rental market. Many university bookstores will offer a rental program to help reduce the cost. For a fraction of the price, you can use the textbook for the semester and return them once finals are over. If you have that option at your university, see how much you could save by renting.
Go For Second-Hand Books
There is nothing wrong with buying a second-hand book unless it’s so used you can’t read half of the book. Second-hand books won’t be nearly as expensive as a brand-new textbook. Sometimes, you can find ones that are half the price. See if your bookstore offers second-hand books and compare the prices between them and new ones.
There’s a bonus with second-hand textbooks. Many students like to jot notes in their books to reference later on. If you can find a second-hand book with notes, those will really come in handy.
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Check the New Edition Differences
Honestly, sometimes the difference between the new edition and the one from last year is a different cover. You’ll be paying way more money for a spiffy cover picture and nothing else. If that is the case, there usually isn’t an issue with buying last year’s edition at a cheaper price.
Be cautious though. Make sure there are no significant changes between editions. Take a look and see why they made the update. If it is for new chapters, changing facts or any information within the textbook, you’ll be using an inaccurate textbook that will be your semester quite difficult.
Buy Somewhere Else
No one says you have to buy your books from the bookstore. They offer you the convenience of having everything you need right there. However, once you know what books you need, search the web to see what you can find. You may find the exact textbook you need on Amazon for way less money. You can also ask friends you know took the class before if they still have their textbook you could use.
Check the Local Library
Before you purchase anything, try browsing through the local library. Many libraries will carry popular textbooks to rent or even photocopy the relevant chapters. If you have this option, you could avoid purchasing expensive textbooks and save a ton of money.
Photo by: Escapejaja
Sell Back Your Textbooks
So, after you checked for used books and rentals, there was nothing at the library, none of your friends took the same class, and you had to get the latest edition, what do you do with this expensive textbook after finals? Sell it to us! Textbook buyback companies, like yours truly (Second Bind – Sell Textbooks App), will give you money to send them your old textbooks. Although you won’t get a full refund, you will get some money that will be extremely helpful.
Kailey graduated with a degree in Journalism and Religious Studies from the University of Regina, Saskatchewan. Now she lives a double life in Manitoba – writer by day and dance teacher by night. When she’s not at her computer, you’ll find her curled up with a glass of red wine and knitting, or obsessively taking photos of her puppy.🐶🐾
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