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A cheaper way to buy textbooks

August 25, 2005

By: Liz Crenshaw

Undated--You could call it a lesson in economics, back to school textbook shopping.

Book shopping usually leaves a deep dent in students or parents wallets. And many have given up on the notion of getting a bargain when it comes to books.

For years, the campus bookstore was the only place to pick up those necessary titles, and new was it. Now, bookstores offer secondhand books as a less expensive option popular with students.

If you're willing to buy used books on the internet, you can save even more. Web sites including Ebay's half.com, Barnes and Noble.com, and Amazon.com offer used titles for prices as much as 90% lower than the bookstore. We set out with book lists from the University of Maryland and American University. Then we went shopping in the bookstore and on the internet. We chose titles from entry level biology, physics, and English courses. Let's start with a University of Maryland biology book, $112 new or $84 used at the campus bookstore, was available for $29 on Amazon.com, a savings of more than 80 dollars off the new price.

Before you start reading for American University's literature 100 class, you might want to do a little arithmetic. We found the textbook for this course in the AU bookstore $48 new, $38 used, and at auction for $5 at half.com. A savings of $43 from the new price.

As for psychology, we found a University of Maryland psych 100 textbook at the bookstore new for $87 and used for $50. It was available at auction on half.com for 89 cents, a savings of more than 66 dollars.

Don't worry about buying the wrong title, every book has a universal id number, or ISBN, that allows you to make sure you're getting the book you need. One upperclassman says she's already learned when buying books, it pays to do her homework.

If you need to do some book buying, the best thing to do is comparison shop.

Keep in mind, new books or editions may not be available online.

Click here for potential savings.

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