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USMC-120131-M-MM918-002 cropped

How much do you think college students spend on textbooks each year?




Four-year-college students spent an average $1,200 for textbooks last year, or 18 percent of their average tuition, according to the College Board.

One reason is that the textbook market has been dominated by three publishers: London-based Pearson, New York City-based McGraw-Hill Education, and Boston-based Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. That monopoly has not brought competitive pricing to textbooks, said Henry Farrell,  George Washington University professor to the Washington Post.

Another reason is that professors assign textbooks, and that gives students little choice or alternatives.

But there are textbook hacks, or ways to get around the high cost of coursebooks.

Avoid the Campus Bookstore

Books at your campus bookstore are usually more expensive. You pay for the convenience of getting books on the spot and the costs of running the bookstore -- salaries, utilities, taxes, etc.

For example, according to Priceconomics, ?'Introductory Algebra, 4th Edition,' which retails new for $195.49 direct from the publisher typically costs $232.68 on the shelf. Try online stores that offer free shipping and discounts.

Get Used Ones!


A decade ago, the average price of a new textbook was $57. In 2010, that same textbook cost $65, and in 2014, it was $82, according to the National Association of College Stores. Also, the gap between new and used book prices has increased, too, rising from $49 to $59 over a decade.

Unless your professor requires to bring the newest edition, get a used one. You can find it at Amazon (, Barnes & Noble (, (, or (

Rent books

Most of us almost never read our textbooks again after we finish the semester. Therefore, renting a book might be better than buying it. Here are the websites that we rent a book. Check it out!

Use Libraries

Most college libraries keep textbooks on their shelves for students to borrow or use in the library. (Sometimes city and county libraries have the books, as well.) The ones for use only in the library are called reference books and you can get them at the reference desk from the reference librarian. Check to make sure the library has the book that you need.

Try eBooks


Books online are accessible, convenient and cheap. Taking English Lit? Read free classic works of literature on Or find ebooks from many sources, including

Compare Cost of Books Carefully

When you buy a new computer or a car, you compare the costs very carefully, right? Why not for books, too? These websites will help you compare the costs of books.

Make sure you have enough time before getting your book shipped. Normally, your online book order should arrive in a week, but depending on the cost of shipping, it could be more or less. Procrastinators, take note.