Heads Up!: How to Save on College Books

For parents, there are lots of financially painful moments during the freshman college drop-off experience. As a parent, when you are arranging to deliver your child to their new college or university, you may already have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from all of the checks your have written and all of the credit card receipts you’ve signed. I won’t even get into all of the things this generation of college student feels it “needs” for itd college educational experience. Suffice it to say, once you are waving your teary goodbye from the curb in front of the dorm, you are caught emotionally between the dread of leaving your almost-grown child and an acute desire to jump in the car and race away before you have to pay for a single other thing!

But you can’t fool yourself. Because as you race away to the airport or home, you have a nagging suspicion that your financial pain has only begun…and you are right!

One of the zingers that comes a-flying your direction shortly after drop off is the cost of books. Once your students register, they have to buy those costly textbooks. And that freshman year book buying experience can be especially painful because you and your student have not learned the ins and outs of the book buying process. Instead, your student runs directly to the beautiful campus bookstore (and those stores are always gorgeously inviting) and he or she buys every book on his or her list, without question or challenge. The resulting bill can be (will undoubtedly be) monstrous!

The good news is, there are ways to cut down substantially on the cost of college books. A new federal law limits the way publishers can hike prices by bundling books and requires upfront disclosure to schools about pricing. And colleges are now required to disclose class book-lists at registration. These kinds of advanced disclosures make it much easier to plan and to find alternatives to paying the hefty full-price for a book that has a miniscule resale value.

Tara Siegel Bernard, in her article, How to Find Cheaper College Textbooks, does a fabulous job of outlining ways to borrow, download or buy books cheaply. The options are extremely encouraging. According to Bernard, you can download some books for free from Google Books and ManyBooks.net. On some college campuses, you can borrow books. And there are websites where you can borrow books at reasonable prices. Of course, there are the online retailers who sell at a discount, some with free shipping and some with e-book options. And then there are alternative places to sell your books after you use them so that you are not held hostage by the college buy-back mafia.

Check out the full article HERE.  It may save you a bundle!



  1. This is really great – just in time for school book purchases!

  2. Something I wish we knew before sending my son off to college is to never buy books from the university bookstore. Our son spent almost $1000 on books his first semester. We have since started ording the books online after comparing prices across multiple online stores using websites like TextbookMonster.com It works really well and we often save 50-70% buying used or international editions of the same textbooks.

    Try it for Yourself

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