I have a high school senior and freshman and a middle schooler who attend schools that require parents to purchase their textbooks.
This is all new to me because I went to public schools for most of my life. The only time I had to purchase textbooks was when I was in college years ago. when I had to buy books and things were different back then. Thankfully, there are a bunch of new options.
One. Rent Books
My husband and I were faced with the quandary of having to shell out something like $160 for some books, $85 for others. The costs were adding up plus we’ve got three kids! It was getting cost-prohibitive but fortunately, you can rent textbooks now and have a host of cost-saving options that were not previously available when we were growing up.
Two. Purchase the Looseleaf Version of the Textbook
Another option, I just learned about this year is loose leaf purchases. I would think it would be a violation of US and international copyright laws to copy a book and sell the pages but not so.
Over the past few years, publishers realized they need to be flexible with their market and so have contracted with third party resellers to permit them to sell the loose leaf version of books. Hooray!
You simply purchase a binder and insert the pages and you can save over $100 dollars on a text book.
We got a Government and Politics textbook that cost $70 new for just $22 from Barnes & Noble!
THREE. BUY USED BOOKS
A lot of the rental books platforms also sell used books have standards and require the books to meet a minimum quality.
They describe what it means for a book to be in Fair, Good, Very Good and Excellent condition. HOWEVER, be very careful to get the correct edition. Some sites are not explicit in disclosing that it’s an old edition, the teacher’s edition or the workbook versus the text. IF the price is too low, be aware and make sure there isn’t a reason for a too ridiculously discount price. We got burned this way.
Also, if you get used books from third party re-sellers, be aware that a lot of them ship ground and therefore it could take up to three weeks for your books to arrive depending on where they’re being shipped from.
If you have the option to select among several re-sellers, pick one located closer to where you live to shorten the delivery time.
Finally, some of these outlets have few copies so it is possible that there may be overlap and the book may not be available then canceled. I mention all of this to let you know to be mindful of these factors when you go this route.
Here are a few of the sources we have used:
Four. Attend Book Swaps
Our sons’ school offers a book swap where students moving on to the next grade can sell their books at heavily discounted prices to underclassmen.
They then get to go around to the other cars parked in the lot and purchase books they may need from older students.
A lot of schools offer this cost-saving option. You can also haggle and bargain. One mom was selling two novels for $5 each but I convinced her to give them to me for $7. It was the end of the swap so she was running out of options anyway.
Even if your school doesn’t offer one, check out nearby schools and attend theirs but make sure you are getting the correct textbook and edition. This can be tricky.
Five. Buy Digital TextBooks
Finally, a lot of teachers and professors allow students to consume the digital version of textbooks on a Nook or Kindle or another digital device.
Once a person owns a digital copy, he/he is usually licensed to download and print out pages needed for a class. Amazon’s Kindle has an entire website to e-textbooks. Enter the ISBN of the text, Title or Author and hit search!There are so many wonderful ways to save money on textbooks these days that you really have no excuse to pay full price…well unless you can afford it and your kid prefers a shiny brand new, unblemished text in the most ideal form, then go for it!
No judgment! If you got it, make it work.
Good luck, parents!