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August 8, 2010

Saving on College Textbooks

It's hard to believe, but two weeks from today we'll bring our daughter back to school and she'll begin life as a sophomore in College.

Amy is a pretty organized and responsible kid, so it didn't surprise me when she whipped out her notebook yesterday, and went over the list of things she needs to do in the next two week to get ready to go back.  The list included the obvious things, like shopping for dorm stuff and clothes -- but she impressed me when she thought of things like replenishing prescriptions and getting her banking in order.  [excuse me while I enjoy a proud mama moment].  The biggest shocker was that she even remembered that she needed to buy her books for next semester! 

Last year, she got very lucky in terms of books. Unlike her friends who shared horror stories of single books costing $150 - $200, her total for the whole year was probably less than $200.  I'm not sure what this year will bring, but while she was at work this morning, I thought I would do a little leg work to see what resources were out there to save on textbooks.  I was so astounded by what I found, that I wanted to share this with my blog friends, in case you have children who are getting ready to go back to college too.  Hopefully this will help you (or your children) keep your hard earned cash in your pockets where it belongs!!


I just did a quick comparison of four different online textbook resources to see what kind of savings we could come up with.   In each instance, I compared the same book - Calculus (Stewart's 6th Edition), hardcover ISBN10:0495011606.  List price:  $224.95

Here's what I found:

                                     New             Used            Rent             e-version
Amazon.com                 $162.56        varied           --                  $143.96
Barnes & Noble            $200.43                            $139.18        $  99.25
Textbooks.com             $191.48        $143.61       $  64.49
Bookbytes.com             $161.80        $114.45

I'm pretty amazed by the potential savings at Bookbytes.com -- but I have to tell you, I'm equally curious about the e-version available through B&N.  Having recently received a Nook, I have fallen in love with the idea of being able to carry your library around with you.  Apparently though, the Barnes & Noble e-version does NOT need a Nook.  There is a free application called NookStudy, that you download to your Mac or PC -- then when you purchase your e-books, they're accessible through your computer -- and you're able to highlight, tag and organize content in a way that makes sense for you.

It's been a long time since I had to study from a textbook, but it sounds to me like it would be a God send for organizing your studies.  And with textbooks available at a fraction of the cost, it could really be a great way to save money and work smarter!  If anyone has used NookStudy for school, I'd love to hear what you think.

Since I started my research this morning, Amy has since gotten home from work.  So when I told her about the textbook savings deals that I found, she informed me that last year she purchased the majority of her books at half.com and also saved a boat load of bucks. The one caveat there was that the books she purchased there were definitely used.

Out of curiosity, I visited half.com to do a 5th comparison, using the same Calc book as my point of reference.  They advertised a "best price" of $120.65 -- but it looks like it's more of an auction environment where individual sellers determine the asking price and name the condition.  The prices I saw ranged from $120 - $160.

It's pretty curious really -- with all of these great deals available through the Internet, I wonder how it is affecting college bookstores?  I can't imagine why anyone would shop there anymore.

Would love to know what your experience has been with any of these sites.  Happy shopping!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

ebooks would never appeal to me for textbooks. I get headaches even just reading my blogs! :)

but I love half.com

Lauren said...

Thanks Anon. I hear ya on the uncertainty about an e-reader. I"m not sure if I would like having to read on a computer screen -- but I know my high school aged kids have some of their text books online...

Computer would definitely be different than a traditional e-reader though. I wasn't sure how I would like it, but I have to tell you, I LOVE my Nook. It is nothing like looking at a computer screen...there's no glare or illumination like a computer screen -- it's just like reading a off of paper. I guess the big test will be next week when I'm reading on the beach -- but I think it's going to be great. No glare, etc.

I have tried using the e-reader on my iPod touch, and that felt more like reading a computer screen.

Thanks for the comment -- and hope you'll come back and visit again!

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