Seeking Affordability and Accessibility, Some College Students Turn to Desperate Measures to Save Money on Textbooks; Websites Offer Tempting Variety of Options

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Rising textbook prices have attracted the attention of college sudents, their parents and lawmakers across the country. While students wait for college textbook affordabiility acts to be passed, some resort to desperate measures such as the illegal downloading of text materials. But many increasingly use online textbook comparison shopping services to save time and money and are finding a wide selection of alternatives to the campus bookstore. StudentMarket.com offers price comparisons on over 1.6 million new and used books, textbook rentals, eBooks, as well as textbook buybacks - the price bookstores are willing to pay to purchase a consumer's book.

We support these bills and requiring transparency on the part of publishers

With college students gearing up to go back to school next month, and textbook prices on the rise, students and their parents are doing their homework to find alternatives to high priced textbooks.

According to The College Board, which tracks college pricing trends, college students spend an average of $940 a year on textbooks and supplies.

Several options for cash-strapped college students, looking for inexpensive alternatives to the typically exorbitant textbook bill, have appeared in recent months. Some of the newer options include textbook rentals, eBooks, purchasing and downloading individual chapters, and most recently, the illegal downloading of textbooks.

The majority of college students still need to purchase textbooks and these students are increasingly using online textbook comparison shopping services to save time and money. StudentMarket.com offers price comparisons on over 1.6 million new and used books, textbook rentals, eBooks, as well as textbook buybacks; the price bookstores are willing to pay to purchase a consumer's book. The consumer types in the ISBN, title, or author and instantly can check price, availability and shipping costs at more than a dozen competing online retailers and marketplaces.

Oren Milgram, president of StudentMarket.com, offers the following tips for maximizing dollars spent on textbooks and supplies:

  •     Use online textbook price comparison services such as Textbooks.StudentMarket.com.
  •     Buy used textbooks. Although they can be found at the campus bookstore, you'll typically find a greater, more affordable selection through an online textbook price comparison service.
  •     Buy early for the best selection of used textbooks.
  •     Keep the textbooks in good shape so you can sell them online when the semester ends. Consider older editions if there are no significant updates to the newer versions.
  •     Look for a low price guarantee, especially on higher ticket items like dorm room furniture. Some retailers will match prices or give a better deal if a lower price is found.
  •     Look for free shipping and special promotions.

Rising textbook prices have attracted the attention of lawmakers across the country. Delaware, Florida, Arkansas, New York and Arizona are among the states considering legislation like the College Textbook Transparency Act that will take effect next month in Missouri. Publishers will be required to estimate how long a textbook will stay current, list differences between current and past editions, and fully disclose wholesale costs which will likely control mark-ups. A bill passed earlier this year by the House of Representatives reauthorized the Higher Education Act with an amendment regarding textbook affordability.

"We support these bills and requiring transparency on the part of publishers," said Milgram. "But you can't beat competition to control the prices of textbooks. Online comparison shopping services have changed the rules of business for how textbooks are bought and sold."

"Instead of the campus bookstore saying, 'Here's what we have to sell, who wants to buy it?' said Milgram. Students are now able to say, 'Here's what I want to buy, who wants to sell it to me at the lowest price?'"

"StudentMarket.com not only helps me find the best deal on my new and used textbooks and rentals," said Pace University senior Steven Samuels. "But they also help me get the most money back at the end of the semester by letting me compare retailers offering the best prices on textbook buybacks, something I haven't found elsewhere. I can go to one place to buy, rent, or sell textbooks without ever leaving my dorm room."

Founded in 1995, StudentMarket.com sells dorm room furniture and accessories, provides information for current and prospective college students on credit and higher education financing, as well as provides a textbook comparison shopping service. StudentMarket.com has served the needs of students at more than 1,800 colleges and universities nationwide. StudentMarket.com plans to reach more than 1,250,000 students over the next 12 months.

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