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The College Textbook Shock Effect

Updated on August 11, 2012

College is bad enough. Students that go off have their parents pay for the tuition and room and board. Then, there are the incidentals and worse, textbooks. The average student in college spends about $1300 a year just on books, which are always overpriced because the student is a captured audience. Some of the books are authored by their professors, so, they earn royalties from self promotion.

The only way around the exorbitant prices, for example, many medical major books run $160, is to be one of the lucky ones to buy a used book for maybe $80. Used books are always first come and serve and many college bookstores only have a few of them for the many. Another method is buying an e-book from Apple or Barnes and Noble, assuming they have it. Many books are not e-books. Still, another new method is renting the book or e-book. If you buy the book as an e-book, beware that many online access codes are one time use only. You have one shot to download and save it . Should something happen, you might have to buy it again! Renting a book still can be expensive depending on the retail cost for a printed version. Usually, the rented e-book is 50% less. Another annoying feature of e-books is many downloaded books will not allow you to print pages from them or restrict how many pages you can print. The benefit of buying a printed version is that you can photocopy it in full and still resale it to the bookstore. Should you rent a textbook, you are charged additional costs if you fail to return the book on time or lose it.


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