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Freshman Year

Textbooks for cheaper: Sites, Techniques, and Resources

With college textbook prices rising over 1,000 percent since 1977 -- more than three times the rate of inflation -- students are getting smarter about buying Them. Here are some of the options for paying less than full price:

TECHNIQUES

  • If assigned a more expensive "custom" version of a book, which will often have the name of the university emblazoned across the cover, check the copyright page and use the "ISBN" number to look up the source textbook. Experts say the custom version often has only cosmetic changes and the source textbook can often be purchased for less.
  • Buy international or instructor versions of books, which can be cheaper. Content can vary slightly between these editions, so compare first before buying.
  • Before buying, wait for a few classes to see whether the teacher is actually using all the books in the syllabus.
  • Check to see if your school library has a physical or digital copy of the book that you can check out or peruse on site.

SITES

Of course there's Amazon and eBay. But other sites proliferate. A selection:

  • SlugBooks.com
  • TextbookRush.com
  • Chegg.com
  • Packbackbooks.com
  • Boundless.com, which offers free and low-cost open source versions of popular textbooks.

RESOURCES

Get a $2,500 school textbook tax credit

Got one we missed? Email nbctips@gmail.com.