College textbooks can reach astronomical prices. Up to hundreds of dollars for one book. Learn how you can cut costs here, and you’ll have more cash to stock up on ping pong balls, decks of cards, and other perfectly normal college necessities. Maybe even enough to splurge on bologna instead of ramen noodles.
1) Check your college bookstore as soon as possible for used copies, because they sell fast. Who cares if there are some highlighted/creased pages if it costs half as much, right? If possible, contact your professors to confirm the requirement of a given book. Sometimes they will list a book that you wind up not reading.
2) Once you know what you actually need to buy, hit the web. Sites like Amazon.com, Chegg.com, Half.com, and others will have used copies that are most likely cheaper than at your bookstore. ISBN.nu is also a good site for price comparing.
3) If these options still put too big of a dent in your budget, then use the library. Any required book will be at the school library. However, they won’t have enough copies for everyone, so there’s a chance you won’t be able to get your hands on one when you need it.
4) Another trick is to look for earlier editions of the same book. Textbooks are updated frequently, but it’s usually very minor changes. The publishers do this so they can make more money off of universities buying essentially the same book. This means that a 4th edition may have all the same information as a 5th edition, and it will cost significantly less. Again, you can ask your professor for advice on a particular book.
*(Bonus) When the semester ends and you no longer need the books, it’s time to recoup some of that expense. Your bookstore will probably offer to buy the books back (for considerably less than you paid for it). That’s where they get all the used books. They buy them back cheap, then mark them up for resale. If you don’t like their offer, then try selling directly to the next flock of students. Post an ad on a bulletin board or on craigslist, and sell it for the same price that the bookstore would. It’s like cutting out the middle man and keeping the profit.