Before I start things off, I’d like to ask this. Why are some of the toilet seats in the girls’ bathroom chipped? I mean, it’s bad enough that I have to check for piss on the seats, but I’ve also got to wonder just how the damn toilet seats get chipped? Whatever. Moving on. Just wanted to bring that to everyone’s attention.

Anyway, what’s the deal with book prices?! Yeah yeah, we all know how much of a crap deal it is to buy books you’ll hardly use. It’s said so often it’s become a cliché. I’ve recently read a study that shows, no surprises here, that the price of textbooks for school has risen astronomically because… they can.

You pay upwards of fifty dollars for a new edition that rearranges two sentences and a couple annotations, enough to where all the page numbers are screwed up. Not that that’s news to anyone. Lord knows I’ve paid enough for books thanks to language courses. I have to pay for an online supplement! I have to pay for access to do my homework. (I am SO happy that this is my last semester of paying for books).

college-textbooksEven though that’s all true, that same study shows that students are paying the same price or even lower. What witchcraft is this? It’s because they’re going through different avenues to get that book.

Outside the school bookstore, popular sites like Amazon, Skyo and Chegg offer steeply discounted books, either from renting or buying used. Students simply aren’t playing the game of buying from their school bookstore or selling books back to them. More power to them.

I wish I started renting textbooks earlier than what I did. I could have saved quite a bit of cash. See, if you’re not majoring in the subject, there really is zero need for you to own the book. I mean, come on, are you really going to crack open that book after the class is over? The answer is no.

If you’re not majoring in poli sci and you’re just taking the class for a requirement, rent your books. Ask a friend if they’ve taken the class and still have it. The editions aren’t going to change that much if it’s been a year. Even if you are majoring in it and have a feeling that you won’t need the book past the class because it’s a really specific field, then rent it. All sites I’ve used offer an option to buy the book after the rental period is over. That, however, has never been the case for me.

If you can’t avoid it, try to buy the book as used. Then utilize sites that offer free shipping to sell the book back. There are plenty of price comparison sites where you just punch in the ISBN and see where your best deal is. You might even be surprised at what you can get for them.

So if you’re a publisher, what can you do to cover your costs? It turns out that the primary reason for huge price bumps for new editions is this practice with students to find the cheapest route possible. The irony does not allude me. Surprisingly enough, it’s those cheap ebooks that publishers love. Why? Because it saves on making physical copies and students can’t sell those back. I don’t buy ebooks due to personal preference of having an actual book in front of me, so I haven’t had to deal with that. Lucky me.

I guess I’ll plug in some of my favorite services for finding books and selling them once the semester is done. Old regulars like and Amazon are great for finding used books for a penny. Use Amazon Student for free shipping and save a bundle. Shipping is where they get you because that penny used book is suddenly five bucks. Nevertheless, it’s a good site for finding what you need and a decent gauge for how much a book is going to cost you.

I’ve found Chegg is decent for renting books because they give you a free box to ship it back in, and a bunch of freebies when they ship it to you. Always a lot of fun. Other good sites that offer free shipping both ways are Skyo, which I’ve recently found. Good selling sites include TextbookRush and ecampus. I wish I was getting paid for all this promotion. But whatever.

Book buying and selling are inevitabilities of student life. Might as well try to save some money.

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