Image: Chegg.com website
Chegg.com
At the end of the semester when you're done with your rental textbook, print out a shipping label from your account and send it back to Chegg.com free of charge.
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updated 7/23/2012 10:19:52 AM ET 2012-07-23T14:19:52

Depending on your child’s major, one book for one college class could be up to $400. Times that by five classes, and you’re reaching into the thousands. And that’s just one semester. For example, "Introduction to Psychology: Gateways to Mind and Behavior with Concept Maps and Reviews" by Dennis Coon and John O. Mitterer is listed at $227.95. Fortunately, there are many ways to cut costs for textbooks.

Renting
Renting is a low-cost alternative that colleges are starting to implement. For certain books, you can go into your school’s bookstore and rent your textbook for a fraction of the price. At the end of the semester, you return the book to the bookstore and never have to worry about it again. Because most college textbooks will not be used after a student has finished their class, rental is gaining popularity.

If the book isn’t available at the college bookstore, Chegg.com offers rentals, often at a fraction of the price of purchase. "Introduction to Psychology" can be rented for $63.49, about 72 percent off the cover price. At the end of the semester, print out a shipping label from your account and send it back to Chegg free of charge. You can even sell them your old books that you don’t want anymore.

Buying
Easily my favorite site to buy discounted books is Amazon.com. If Amazon’s price isn’t low enough for me, I turn to the Amazon Marketplace, where I can buy a gently used book for almost half the cost. Introduction to Psychology can be bought new from Amazon at $183.84, only 19 percent off. Buy used and it drops as low as $120.76 (47 percent off).

Students can also sign up for Amazon Prime for half price, only $39. Called Amazon Student, this program offers special Prime pricing, e-book borrowing and free two-day shipping. Kindle owners can also rent textbooks directly from Amazon.

Sponsored by eBay, Half.com is very similar to the Amazon Marketplace, and "Introduction to Psychology" can be bought for $120.76 from the same seller that’s in the Amazon Marketplace. Even though you are buying from a seller, not Half.com, sellers never see your credit card number. Just like Chegg, Half.com also has a very active rental section, where you can find "Introduction to Psychology" for $75.22 (67 percent off), with free return shipping.

If you are truly a poor college kid, Thriftbooks.com is for you. Thriftbooks only sells used books, and books are offered at rock bottom prices, but there’s a catch — many of the textbooks are older editions. "Introduction to Psychology" wasn’t available in its current 13th edition. If the professor doesn’t mind back editions, you’re golden — the 11th edition of "Introduction to Psychology is only $5.12," with free shipping.

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