Email the Professor – You may not need all the books on the class textbook list. Communicate with your professor about the textbook needs for the class. Inquire which are absolutely required and which are suggested. It also never hurts to ask if your professor has any copies available to lend for the semester. Many students wait till the first day of class to talk to the professor. The main point is to find what textbooks are essential and which are a waste of money.
Rent – Textbook prices are ridiculous. Rentals may be the biggest way to lower textbook costs. It also ties up the least cash up front compared to buying and reselling. Rental prices tend to be 20-25% of the cost to purchase. Make sure you review the T&C’s, especially the return date and any grace periods.
International Editions – In many cases textbook publishers offer lower cost editions in other countries. They may have a paper cover or black & white photos but the content is the same. You will be amazed at how low the prices are for International Editions of the same textbook.
Last Year’s Edition – If you absolutely cannot afford this year’s edition of a textbook consider buying the prior edition of the book. Many times the changes are minor and you will get the content for rock bottom prices. Search by title and not the ISBN to find other editions of your textbook.
Shop Around – You don’t know a good price unless you shop around. Don’t assume the major players always have the cheapest price. Supply and demand cause prices to shift quickly so today’s cheapest source may not be the cheapest source tomorrow. There are online tools that help you compare prices making you a smarter shopper and maximizes your savings potential.