Page 2 of 3   <       >

Books: Colleges' Budget-Busters

Anyway, while various organizations and campaigns such as work on the policy front to lower the cost of textbooks, there are some things students can do now to reduce the capital they spend.

For instance, the California Public Interest Research Group recommends buying online at such sites as , which allows students to buy and sell used books directly from each other. The site is free, but registration is required.

Try these sites as well: , and . But when buying online, don't forget to consider shipping expenses.

Before you buy your book, double-check that you have the correct 10-digit International Standard Book Number, or ISBN. Look for it above the bar code on the textbook's back cover or title page. If you are checking your class syllabus online, it should contain the ISBN along with the book title, author and edition.

If you're really bold and struggling financially, there may be a way to use an old edition of a textbook. However, it'll take some work.

First, check with the professor to see if the new edition of the textbook being used for the course has substantial changes, CALPIRG recommends. If there aren't many changes, then look online (or ask the faculty member) for an old syllabus.


Because a new edition of the textbook often means new page numbers, and that in turn means the professor has to create a new syllabus. But if you can get your hands on an old syllabus with the old page numbers, you may be able to get away with using a previous edition of the book and save some money.

Used textbooks are typically priced at 75 percent of the retail price of the new book. Prices on used books are $10 to $80, with the average price about $40, according to the National Association of College Stores.

Also think international, says Steve Loyola, president and founder of Best Book Buys, an online price-comparison shopping site for college students.

"Often the publisher makes an international version that is identical to the U.S counterpart except it might be a paperback instead of a hardback and the content is supposed to be the same," Loyola said.

Buying international versions of textbooks could save in some cases up to 90 percent of the U.S. retail price. To find international textbooks, you can go to or .

<       2        >

© 2006 The Washington Post Company