Hidden bonus: Buying secondhand books is not only cheaper, but also environmentally friendly. It's the next best thing to hugging a tree. Sort of.
Listen up parents: If you want to save on college books, then kick your son or daughter out of the door or onto a computer. Now is the time to get textbook deals, not only at the bookstore, but also online.
Students spend about $500 on average for textbooks. But these days, college students and their parents are looking for cheap, cheap, cheap and the most popular way is hitting the bookstores early and buying used.
“If you wait too late you can't get used books cause they're already all gone,” SDSU student Kayla Weinheimer said.
San Diego State's student bookstore starts with nearly $200,000 used books every year, books that are generally about 25 percent cheaper than used. But the bookstore also offers cheaper alternatives.
“We have some rental books and we have some digital books as well,” SDSU Bookstore spokesperson Todd Summer said. “They can view that book on an iPhone or an iPod touch.”
You can rent a textbook for about half price or buy a digital version for your computer at nearly 70 percent off. But the strategy for some students to save money is to go to the bookstore to shop, but go online to buy.
“I buy the books here and then I get the titles and go online, like Amazon… and see if they have them cheaper and they usually do,” SDSU Student Ellse Cormona said, who then returns the books she bought at the store.
Phillip Patague takes pictures of the textbooks on his list. It helps him match the books online and if that doesn’t work, he tries another tactic.
“Most of the time I ask the teachers if I can use an old edition. You can get them for like $10, the older editions,” Patague said.
Here is a word of warning about buying your books online: Every year we hear from college students who get ripped off from buying textbooks over the Internet. There are some deals but there are also some crooks who will take your money and not deliver or send you outdated textbooks or send them so late that you've gone through a third of the class without the book.
Make sure you buy from reputable sites and can get your money back if you're not satisfied.