Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Big Savings for Back to School - Finding the Best Text Book Deals & Bargains for Your Family


With August midway through, for those of us with kids still living at home that often means back to school is already here, or will be very soon.   Families on a budget like us want to save money because as in years past, our children are going to be needing (and wanting) all kinds of stuff this fall --  uniforms or new clothes, school supplies, and books.

Just part of the stack of second-hand text books we've bought for this school year...

In fact that last item on the list can be the most pricey of all.  According to consumer and money-saving expert Andrea Woroch, textbooks are expensive and prices tend to rise at four times the rate of inflation and the going rate now is $900 annually and climbing.  

With my triplets going into a private high school this fall, I'm learning that those astronomical costs aren't necessarily only for college kids, either.  Woroch's strategy, which I've already put to the test myself shopping for my own family, is simple and logical.  The key is to avoid buying new books at retail stores and, in the case of university students, use the college bookstore only as a last resort.

Here are some ideas for thinking creatively to save hundreds of dollars on books this fall

1. Wait Until You've Seen the Syllabus
You may not even need all those books that are on the teacher's class list.  So,  why not wait until the student's first day of class to decide on what's really necessary.

2. Rent Books From a Service
Examples include: Chegg.com, BookRenter.com and CampusBookRentals.com  Go this route and you'll pay roughly half the purchase price, often with free shipping included.

3. Don't buy New, Purchase Used Textbooks Instead
Over the years, buying used, rather than new has grown increasingly popular.  This trend has its roots, at least in part,  in the current movement toward greater eco responsibility.  Remember to shop eBay as well as Amazon, of course.  But also check out the growing number of used online textbook companies -- such as Half.com, Textbooks.com and eCampus.com  Don't overlook visiting the many traditional retail book stores (both chains and mom and pop shops) that also sell previously owned texts alongside new books, either.

5. Download Free Textbooks
Few classes require students to read every page of a textbook, so why not download only the
necessary portion from such websites as CourseSmart.com and MIT Open Courseware?  You can also tap into Project Gutenberg which has scanned in hundreds of free-domain books for use on e-readers such as Kindle, Android, iPhone, iPad, and other portable devices.

6. Don't Purchase the Whole Package
Federal regulations no longer allow publishers to combine textbooks with add-ons, such as CD-ROMs and workbooks.  Before you buy an entire bundle, check with your professor or instructor.

7. Shop Online
When you buy online often this means you'll find reduced book prices and low or free shipping.  You'll save even more if you download a coupon code from a site like CouponSherpa.com and then purchase at new textbook sellers such as  Amazon.com, BarnesAndNoble.com, AbeBooks.com, and various others.

8. Other Thinking Out-of-the-Box Ways to Save 
Another buy cheaper option is to purchase an earlier textbook edition  Except for subjects where there are major advances in their respective fields -- these books probably won't be that different from the edition that's just off the presses.  You might also shop at swap meets, thrift stores and garage sales for great book bargains.

Woroch concludes by reminding parents who will be shopping for their kids and college students who will be buying on their own to always compare prices and shop around for textbooks.

"Websites such as CampusBooks.com, BigWords.com and AllBookstores.com make the process much easier," she says.

Looking forward to your comments about this. Definitely feel free to add your own additional tips to saving money on books in the comment section below. 

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