What are the benefits of getting used textbooks?

Used textbooks are a great choice for students looking to save money on their path to graduation and finding a great job! Here are a few reasons why used textbooks are so great:cash-coins-money-259165

Cheaper option: Used books are almost always cheaper than new books! Aside from regular wear and tear from being used by other students, there are no content differences between a new book and a used book.

More books in the market: There are way more used books in the textbook market than new books, which makes finding a great deal on the book you need easier, faster, and cheaper.

Can help save time with studying: A pre-highlighted word here and a pre-underlined word there might just make the important information stand out easier!

Won’t affect your buyback price: If you plan on selling your book at the end of the semester, you might as well purchase a used book. Normally, bookstores will buy books at the same price, even if you bought it new. The only time the price may change is if there’s minor damage on the book and the bookstore isn’t willing to pay the full price.

Lower Negative Environmental Impact: Everyone loves the smell of new books; the paper, the ink – and maybe even the glue…but it’s no doubt that mass production of books and paper products require a lot of lost trees. When you purchase a used book, it’s just like reducing, reusing, and recycling!

3 Reasons Why College Textbooks Are So Expensive

We all know college textbooks are expensive, but why is that the case? Here are a few reasons for the growing textbook costs we see today:

Publishers only make money when new books are sold

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Publishers create the textbooks and make money based on how many new books are produced and sold. Because of this, they want to see more new books bought and fewer used books bought.

“Since the publishers don’t make any money off used-book sales, their business model is to make the old editions obsolete and force you to buy a new book.” (NY Post)

There are a few different tactics we have seen publishers use to try to sell more new books:

Marketing new editions of textbooks to professors. Marketing reps are trained to hook your professor into selecting a new edition of a textbook without really mentioning the price of the book. These new editions often contain only minor content changes. As soon as the new edition is selected by the professor, the old edition often is useless for their class.

Creating custom editions. Publishers will create university specific book editions (custom editions) with no named authors, which makes it hard for students to find cheaper alternatives. These editions also frequently are minor revisions, with some being a simple of a difference as a different title page in the book. It is basically impossible to tell the difference between a custom edition of a book and the edition of the book that it is based on without purchasing copies of both and comparing them.

Packaging books with access cards. Due to increased use of online homework programs that require access cards, there have been increased amounts of textbooks being bundled with the access card. This makes getting all the materials you need for your class very easy, but it often comes at a high price. These access cards can often be purchased individually from the publisher for a lower price than the package, but it is difficult to identify exactly what access card you need for your class. Because of the difficulty of this process, many students will choose to just buy the package and spend more than they should.

Textbooks are chosen by people who aren’t paying for them

The process of choosing what textbook is used for a class is part of what drives textbook prices up. Textbooks are typically chosen for a class by the professor who is teaching the class. These professors are visited by publishers who try to convince the professor to use their book. The professor evaluates their different options and selects a book that is best suited for their class.

So what is the problem with this? The textbook is selected by someone who won’t have to pay for it. When evaluating which textbook to choose, many professors do not consider the price of the book and what impact it will have on their students. Because they will not be paying for the book, there is little incentive for professors to include price in their ultimate textbook decision.

Lack of Competition

There’s just not that many publishers! The textbook market is dominated by five major players, and none of them are willing to make room for small publishers with better prices. These major publishing companies are able to hike up new textbook prices without fear of market competitors.

“According to the National Association of College Stores, more than 77 cents of every dollar spent on textbooks go to publishers. Of those 77 cents, the publishing company makes about 18 cents in pure profit, while spending 15 cents on marketing, and roughly 32 percent to cover costs (paper, printing, employee salaries, etc). At the same time, the author – the person who dedicated hundreds of hours of research to write the book – only gets about 12 cents on the dollar on average.” (Business Insider)


Which is better: renting my college textbooks or buying them?

While searching for your textbooks, you may be wondering whether you should rent or buy your textbooks. The short answer is it depends on the book! Here are a few tips to help decided if you want to rent or buy your textbook:

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  • Expect to save 50%-90% off the new price of a book.
  • Allows you to pay less money today than buying books.
  • Great for textbooks you’re not sure you’ll want to keep, especially classes outside your major or introductory classes.
  • Reduces stress and risk of selling your book at the end of the semester.

Buying:

  • Great for novels and books that you’ll want to keep, especially books in your field of focus.
  • Able to try to sell the book for cash at the end of the semester.
  • No risk of being charged a fee if the book gets lost or damaged.

Ultimately, the better option depends on your situation. If you are having trouble making a decision on whether to rent or buy, just ask us! We will be more than happy to help you make a good decision that fits your needs!

Check out an earlier blog post to see Four Tips For Getting Cheap Textbooks.

Four Tips For Getting Cheap Textbooks

Blog - Books

Looking for ideas on how to save money on your textbooks? Here are some helpful tips!

  • Buy or rent used books!
    • Buying a used book is assuredly cheaper than buying a new book. And aside from regular wear and tear from being used by other students, there are no content differences between a new book and a used book.
    • Renting a used book is even cheaper than buying a used book. When you rent a textbook, you pay a discounted price for the book you need for just the amount of time you need it. There’s nothing worse than buying a book at a high price then trying to sell it afterwards and it isn’t even worth a quarter of the purchasing price. Make sure you gather the right information.
  • Check with your professor if you can purchase or rent an older edition.
    • Sometimes newer editions are almost identical to is predecessor.
    • Almost always, older editions are cheaper than the newer one!
  • Avoid on-campus bookstores!
    • Universities usually contract large companies to set up an on campus bookstore (that pretty much only cares about making more and more profit). Because of this, used book options are usually limited since new books are more profitable.
    • Small independently owned bookstores are in the business to help college students find more affordable options. Independent textbook stores usually sell and rent out used books because it’s the cheapest option available for students.
  • See if you need the bundle or just the book.
    • Sometimes professors will list an ISBN on their syllabus that isn’t quite what you need, because it is for a bundle of materials like access codes or study guides.
    • Individual books have different ISBNs from packages. Do you really need the access code or lab manual? Check with your professor first before purchasing bundles that have unnecessary items.
    • Finding the correct ISBN is the easiest way to find a better deal on your books!