College textbooks are notorious for being (un) justifiably expensive, but what can be done about it? There is a number of factors at play continuously increasing the prices of college textbooks (one of which includes, surprisingly, used rental books: publishers are only able to maintain a consistent rate by selling new materials!).
In the last decade alone, the price of textbooks has risen by more than eighty percent. All a poor college student could do is complain, while paying through his teeth for his new textbooks, right? Not any more! It seems like some students don't mind breaking the law in order to get free textbooks. They are sharing copies of their textbooks – illegally – on torrent websites and other peer-to-peer websites.
This sort of behavior is becoming worryingly widespread. The average college student this year spent about $ 250 less on various college supplies, including textbooks, than just a few short years ago. Are there any legal alternatives to sharing copies of college textbooks illegally?
Yes, there are! Some computer sciences and math departments are creating libraries consisting of older editions of college textbooks, and some professors are even using materials freely available on the internet instead of the pricey textbooks for their classes. The others are producing e-textbooks similar to Wikipedia, supposed to supplant traditional texts. Open source textbooks would be free to use online, and cheap to download.
After all, the often prohibitive expense of class materials is what's driving up the cost of college. The rental market for college textbooks is burgeoning for the same reason. It is estimated that more than three thousand of colleges and universities has rental programs at the moment. This has pushed the prices down and forced publishers to sell the digital editions of their books for less.
Of course, renting is not for everybody: if you are in need of a book you are going to refer back to later, or if you are tough on books or likely to miss the due date – you may want to buy a book. The choice is still yours whether you want to buy it new or used. Is there an electronic edition of your book? If there is, it may be much cheaper.
Where you chose to buy your textbooks matters as well. Buying online is often cheaper than buying them at the campus bookstore. Keep in mind that stores tend to sell of used stock quickly.