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Buying Books Without Breaking the Bank

By Natalie Keshishian | Staff Writer
On September 16, 2009

Purchasing textbooks is a huge but unavoidable financial burden in the pursuit of a higher education. According to a report released by California state auditor Elaine Howle, the cost of textbooks was nearly 60 percent of a full-time student's total education cost in the 2007-2008 academic school years. The report also states that increases in textbook prices have significantly surpassed what the median household income is able to afford. allows you to search by title, author or ISBN number. Within seconds shoppers receive a list of sellers and pricing for the required book(s). or rents books for periods of fifty-five, eighty-five or one hundred and thirty days. According to, the student population saved $16 million in 2008 by renting books from The rental rates on books are often cheaper than used books, as student Raffi Berghoudian realized when a used book for a marketing class was still a whopping $130.00.

"I rented the book for $45 the whole semester. Even though I don't get to keep the book, it's much easier to rent it right now and send it back when I'm done," Berghoudian said.

EBooks allows customers the more economical and environmentally friendly option of downloading. Students can store the text within minutes onto a computer.

The ‘free' option is the books professors place on reserve in the school library each semester. Students can refer to the book for two hours at the library, but cannot check it out. Photocopying for 10-cents per page is also an option.

To recover some of that book money, don't rely solely on reselling to the bookstore. According to the audit, a used book at the school bookstore is typically marked 75 percent of the retail value.

"It's frustrating going to the school bookstore, having to check my bags at the door and then wait in a long line to purchase the books I need, then at the end of the semester I'm given less than half of what I paid for the book or no money at all because a new edition is being used for the following semester" said Hovan Hovanessian who attends Valley College.

You can also use the school to post us signs and sell books between each other, rather than using the bookstore or ‘middleman.' By paying a small commission, sellers can list textbooks for sale on Amazon or eBay. allows individuals to post items for sale free of charge.

Purchasing textbooks online or shopping around for other alternatives is a smart decision for students to make College is by no means cheap; however following the tips mentioned above can make paying for it a little easier.

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