Textbook prices have skyrocketed in recent years, outpacing even the rising rates of college tuition and causing college students to seek alternative textbook sources in an effort to reduce overall education expenses. Fortunately, if you need to purchase textbooks for your college courses you have options, primarily:
• buy new textbooks
• buy used textbooks
• buy international textbooks
• buy ebook or “e-textbooks”
• rent textbooks
The following review examines each textbook buying option in detail, lists the pros and cons of each, and offers real-world comparisons so you can make an educated decision regarding your textbook purchases in 2014.
Buying new textbooks
Buying new textbooks is perhaps the most convenient option, given that campus bookstores are routinely stocked with the latest editions. However, new textbooks are also the most costly. In fact, new textbooks can easily cost twice as much as used textbooks, and that can add up when you consider the average college student will pay up to $5,000 or more for textbooks over the course of earning a four-year degree.
Pros: Convenient, because you can easily find new textbook titles in your campus bookstore.
Cons: Expensive. Not only do new textbooks cost a lot of money, they lose a lot of their value over the course of a single semester of use. You'll never be able to sell your textbook for anything close to what you paid.
Buying used textbooks
Not as convenient as a trip to the campus bookstore, used textbooks are still easy to come by when you use the Direct Textbook search engine. Direct Textbook searches dozens of different sources and instantly displays the best used textbook prices so you can save up to 50 to 90 percent off the cover price of new textbooks.
Once you find a good textbook deal, you can complete your purchase on the vendor's website and the seller will ship your textbook directly to your door. It's a good idea to purchase used textbooks directly from vendors rather than the private market, because vendors inspect each used textbook to ensure its content is intact. You don't want to purchase a textbook with missing pages, after all.
Pros: Cheap, allowing you to save up to 90 percent off the cover price; and convenient. Resell for similar value.
Cons: You'll have to wait several days to receive your textbooks in the mail, potential loss of value.
Buying international textbooks
International editions are those sold overseas. In many cases they're exact copies of the content contained in domestic editions, though they're often printed on lower-grade paper stock. International editions are sold at cheaper rates overseas, and can either be purchased through vendors who stock international editions or used through international students.
Pros: Cheap prices for identical content. Can resell for similar value.
Cons: Sometimes the content isn't identical (though it still likely retains most of the original content, edited for regional differences), and it can take several days to receive international editions in the mail.
Ebooks are often heralded as the next generation of textbooks. They're lightweight and portable, because they can be read on nearly any mobile device. Ebook textbooks, or “e-textbooks,” also cost less than new textbooks – at least in terms of initial investment. However, ebooks cannot be shared between students, all highlighting must be done electronically, and they cannot be resold at the end of the semester. Ebooks can also be rented for a period of time at a reduced price; once the rental period ends, students can no longer access rented ebooks.
Pros: Cheap, lightweight, and portable.
Cons: Cannot be shared or resold.
Renting textbooks is another way to gain access to required course material without the expense associated with purchasing new textbooks. Renting textbooks is cheaper than buying new, but they are unable to be resold because they have to be turned back in to the rental company. Moreover, any damage to rental textbooks is assessed as a fee that must be paid by college students when the textbooks are turned in.
Pros: Cheaper than buying new textbooks.
Cons: Cannot be resold, could incur damage fees.
The following table compares real-world prices for each textbook buying option for two popular textbooks: “Fundamentals of Anatomy and Physiology, 9th Edition” and “Physics, 9th Edition.”
“Fundamentals of Anatomy and Physiology”
$187/buy, $106 rental for 6 months
$113/buy, $90 rental for 6 months
As you can see, used textbooks and international editions are considerably cheaper than new textbooks. Ebooks tend to cost more than used and international editions. Rentals are often the cheapest options; however, they cannot be resold so used and international editions might prove to be better buys because you can recoup most or all of your cost when you sell your used textbooks.
Students can instantly compare the best deals for new, used, international, ebook, and rental textbooks on a single screen on DirectTextbook.com, which scours all major online bookstores, libraries, and other resources to find the cheapest textbook prices in the world.
Buying textbooks isn't as simple as it used to be, but the many options available make it possible for students to minimize their textbook fees and put more money toward savings or other college expenses. Having choices is important, and those who are savvy enough to study their choices can save thousands of dollars over the course of earning a four-year education and beyond.