Category Archives: Textbook Buying
For the second year in a row, college students spent less on textbooks and other course materials. The findings, from two new reports, link the spending drop to a rise in the use of rented materials and digital textbooks. The reports cite that digital materials can cost 15-70% less than new print textbooks.
The Student Watch Survey, conducted by the National Association of College Stores, reported a decline of $23 per student in spending; it dropped from $602 during the 2015-2016 academic year to $579 during 2016-2017. Student Monitor, an independent study of student spending issued twice a year, reported a decline of $64 in spending per student, dropping from $607 during the 2015-2016 year to $543 in the 2016-2017 academic year.
More students than ever—82% of the respondents in the Student Monitor survey—are using comparison shopping. Students, the reports said, are taking advantage of the competitive market for course material, where there is an increased variety of low-priced options.
The Student Watch survey reported that as many as 52% of students use digital course materials. According to this study, renting a textbook costs about $30 less than buying one. More than 33% of the respondents in the Student Watch survey said they had rented one or more textbooks; that figure marks a record high.
International Versions of textbooks, what are they and are they legal in the US?
Textbook publishers sell their books worldwide and often price them based on book prices and economic conditions of the destination countries. These textbooks sold abroad are referred to “International Editions” or “Low price editions”.
An International Edition textbook is simply the international counterpart to a US Edition. Most international editions have slightly different covers, many have different ISBNs on the outside covers (although some have the same ISBN as the US edition on the inside), but are still printed on high-quality paper. These books were originally created to be sold in different regions, like Europe. International Edition textbooks have the same pagination and contents as the US Edition. All units, page numbers, and problem sets are the same as the US version.
Most international editions may bear a label that says something to the effect of “Not for sale in the U.S. or Canada”. This is because the publisher has printed the books to be sold overseas. There is nothing illegal, however, in purchasing international edition books from sellers overseas. In fact, the 2013 Supreme Court decision of Kirtsaeng vs. John Wiley & Sons put this matter to rest, ruling that International Edition textbooks may be sold and purchased within the U.S. It also upheld the right of anyone to sell used international edition textbooks, which means that college students can resell their international edition textbooks when the semester is over!
Students are missing out on big savings by not investigating International Editions of textbooks. Website Cheap-Textbooks.com, whose textbook price service includes International Editions, recently ran a Twitter poll asking about International Edition usage and 100% of the respondents said they have not used a international Edition.
Renting vs Buying college textbooks is an option most college students have to consider. Many students simply pick the cheapest option but there are other considerations.
- Cheaper up front cost
- No risk of a new version coming out and devaluing a purchased textbook
- Buying used and reselling may be the cheapest method
- A better choice if the textbook will be used in another or advanced course
Deciding Which is Right for You
Now that we have listed the options and the pros of each, it’s up to you to decide! Just to recap, many students rent their college textbooks because it’s cheaper up front and they usually don’t use them after the class. The exception is textbooks that I’ll be using for multiple semesters. There’s really no right or wrong when it comes to buying or renting your textbooks, it just depends on you, your financial status, and your style of studying. Once you determine how you study and what you need in order to succeed, your textbook selection process will be a breeze.
What do other student recommend?
Textbook comparison website Cheap-Textbooks.com recently ran a Twitter poll for college students to vote on buying vs renting. The results were really right down the middle with 50% responding that they prefer to rent and 50% that prefer to buy.
When we think about the high cost of college, tuition is the first thing that comes to mind. But there’s a “not-so-hidden” cost that often gets a pass because it’s been rooted in college tradition. For years, this cost has been a burden to students, but we haven’t identified ways to cut it because it’s “the way things have always been.” I’m speaking of the cost of textbooks.
Back to school is right around the corner for all students including college kids and a major expense every semester is college textbooks.
So here are some options for you to save money on college textbooks.
Many professors forego the textbook and replace it with other materials.
If the books are required, you have options.
Check online with an Amazon Prime account. There, students can score better discounts.
If you buy your books on Amazon, you can trade your books back in when you are done with them for up to 80% of their value in an Amazon gift card.
Another popular money saving option is Chegg.com.
Finally, while “on campus” bookstores get a bad rap for being expensive you might still want to check with the store to see if they price match.
For example at University of Houston, the bookstore will price match some of Amazon’s prices.
You can also rent e-books.
However, consider an additional cost for the latest tablet.