G.L. of Dix Hills, NY (via the University at Albany), writes:

Just came back from the campus bookstore. Shocked to see the prices for textbooks, even the used ones. Any advice on saving us impoverished students some bucks?

The College Whisperer responds:

Ahhh. The joys of spending too much for the obligatory texts (often written by the professors and read by only a select few).

The College Whisperer still has vivid memories of his eldest daughter's days as an undergrad. She'd pre-order textbooks from the college bookstore, pay off-the-wall prices (in many instances, even for used books), and, come the end of the semester, mom and dad would find the books still hermetically (great SAT word) sealed in their plastic wrap.

But I digress.

Indeed, the cost of textbooks -- often in the neighborhood of $1000 per semester, particularly for Freshman with full introductory course loads -- can set one back a bit.

The trend, for many years, has been to buy used. This saves a considerable sum, though still expensive. Of course, the used textbook is not always available, and there's no escaping that prof who wants you to buy the latest edition of his textbook. [We won't even touch upon the used textbooks with the dreaded red highlights covering 90% of the words. LOL]

But why buy, new or used, when you can rent?

Yes, The College Whisperer said RENT!

Face it. After the semester, how many times will you open that History of New Caledonia, 1805-1902 textbook again? Likely, assuming you can't sell it back or pawn it off as a "must read" to an unsuspecting lower classman, it's use will be relegated to service as a TV stand or over-sized paperweight.

Renting textbooks has become all the rage on campus, and it is something every student should look into.

Look where, you ask?

Start at your college bookstore. Many on-campus vendors are now renting books, though they may not be overt in their advertising of same.

Bookstore doesn't rent books? Try that new-fangled wireless thing called the Internet. [Thanks, Al Gore. You've come through for us again!]

There are a good number of reputable online textbook outfitters out there, including Chegg.com, bookrenter.com, and the ever-present ecampus.com.

Even the big boys, like Barnes & Nobles (which has many a campus bookstore concession), has gotten into the rental (and, believe it or not, download) of college text books game. Will wonders never cease?

Yes, why own when you can rent! Sounds counterintuitive (SAT word), but it's true.

Do a little comparison shopping -- in-store and online -- to find the best buys, or rents, as the case may well be.

Save yourself a considerable chunk of dough (which you will no doubt use to download books to your Kindle ;-), and happy reading!

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of The College Whisperer.
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