HOUSTON - Nationally, college students are expected to spend up to $1,100 on textbooks, but there are ways to get significant savings.
At the University of Houston's Barnes and Noble, you can save up to 80 percent when you rent a used textbook instead of purchasing it brand new.
"We rent up to 85 percent of our titles. We've been renting since 2006, so we're saving students a lot of money off the cost of a new book," said Barnes and Noble general manager Felix Robinson.
If you choose to rent, make sure to be very careful not to damage the book or they won't take it back.
Another cost-cutting option is to download digital books to your iPad or Nook for an average savings of 40 percent. If used copies of the textbook are available at the bookstore, you can save about 25 percent. It's best to head to the bookstore early for used books because there is a limited supply and they go fast!
There are some books that you can buy in loose leaf pages to fit in a binder instead of bound in a textbook. That option is inexpensive, but students say the pages can rip easily.
At the University of Houston, you can download the bookstore app to save an additional 25 percent off your first purchase and to find other savings throughout the year.
Seasoned students recommend taking the required textbook list and scouring the Internet first. Amazon and eBay are popular textbook retailers, and there is a new website called The University Network Textbook Save Engine that makes searching easier by comparing prices.
We found an algebra book used at the University of Houston bookstore to compare prices. You can rent it used for $62 or buy a used copy for $103. A new rental costs $110 or you can purchase a new copy for $138. When we searched the same book on The University Network, we found a new copy for only $19, which is over a $100 savings. However, the rental cost online was $5 more than at the school's bookstore.
As with anything, you need to be careful when shopping online. Many books have several editions, so you want to use the ISBN number to make sure you are looking at the right book.
One advantage to purchasing the book from the school's bookstore is that you can easily return a book if you drop a class or no longer need the book.
The end of the semester is best time to sell back your books because that is when the bookstore is buying for the next semester. You can sell back books you purchased at the bookstore or online, but they only purchase what they need for the next semester, so it can be hit or miss.
In addition to savings on college textbooks, The University Network shows students where to find discounts on daily spending. Just by showing your college ID, you can get 10-15 percent off at restaurants, clothing stores, and even with some airlines. Also, check your college's website to find the best local deals.
These are some of the sites we found to be the most helpful:
- The University Network
- Brad's Deals Student Discounts
- Offers College Student Discounts
- University of Houston Student Savings Club
- Rice University Hedgehopper Student Savings Program
- The Simple Dollar Student Discounts