So, if you have a kid on the way to college, or you're en route to those ivied precincts yourself, what can you do to protect your checkbook?
- First things first: As soon as the bookstore puts the next semester's texts on the shelves, pay the place a visit. Note all the required texts, and write down their ISBNs. The ISBN is a number that appears on the copyright page, usually on the reverse side of the title page. It's unique to each specific edition of a book. Knowing this number will ensure that you get the correct edition.
- Next, the path of least resistance is to check Amazon.com or a similar site. Enter an ISBN in the search function and it will bring up the correct textbook. Buy used. It's much cheaper. As we've seen, even though new prices are less than you'll pay in the bookstore, even at Amazon they're out of reason.
- If you don't want to own these objects (and really, why shoulda freshman comp text collect dust on your bookshelf from now until you die?), do a search for "textbook rental." The book in question can be borrowed for a semester from Chegg.com for less than $30.
- Bing: Textbook rental
- Speaking of borrowing, check the campus library. Often faculty members put textbooks on reserve. Even though you can't take it home, few textbook reading assignments require more than an hour or two.
If you bought the book, resell it at the end of the semester. Check online for resale opportunities that will return more than the campus bookstore will pay you.
Remember that you can resell the book on Amazon, possibly for more than you could get on campus. Enter the ISBN, check the amounts people are getting, and compare with the figure the bookstore is offering. Don't stop at Amazon; textbook renters often buy used books, as do other marketers. Search for "buy textbooks" to bring up a variety of sites. Sell to the highest bidder.
- Bing: Buy textbooks
Oh, I'm getting all worked up over this. It makes me so angry! The textbook business, which ought to be an altruistic endeavor, has turned into industrial exploitation of a captive audience, made even more inexcusable by the buyers' youth and financial naïveté.
If you're a kid, don't put up with it.
If you're the parent of a new college student, teach your student where to find textbooks at reasonable prices, and help them find ways to get supplies from sellers that don't steal from them.