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Saving Money on Your Textbooks

There are some college expenses you can’t do much about. You can’t really haggle down dorm fees or course costs. But your textbooks don’t necessarily have to cost an arm and a leg, either. Sure, you might have to buy brand new lab books once in a while because you can’t use somebody’s written-in books; but you also don’t have to use the campus bookstore all of the time, either, which doesn’t necessarily have the best bargains to begin with.

Here are a few ways you can save big bucks on books.

Borrow. If a friend or family member has the book, just see if you can borrow it for free. Just be sure to take care of it. You may even be able to borrow it from the library (especially if it’s a novel for a literature course), or even your hometown library, if you don’t need it for the whole semester or if it’s a half-semester course.

See if it’s online. You can find many works printed online nowadays, especially classical works. It might make it harder to read, but if you’ve been given a set number of pages you’re able to print on campus for free (or included in tuition, rather), you may want to even print out shorter works or poems you’re studying.

Buy used. Yes, you can do this at the campus bookstore, but check and see if there’s a cheaper version at Amazon.com, eCampus or your favorite used book seller’s site. Chances are you can get it for much cheaper. Just make sure that it’s the correct edition; your instructor may have a specific version in mind for study. Plus, newer editions typically have different page numbers than older editions, which can cause confusion during daily classroom use.

Rent your books. This option is particularly good if you know you’re not going to use the book again—say, you’re a math major and it’s a huge literary tome. Don’t fork over dinero when you’re not playing for keeps here, right?

Share books. If you and a friend are in the same course together—but with different dates and times—see if you can share the cost of the book. You may have to establish a schedule for using it—especially during test weeks or when you’re writing a paper—but it may be worth it. As a bonus, you could use it as an excuse to study together, and even share notes, which could also help you retain the material.