Little Known Tips to Pay Less at College Bookstores



 Little Known Tips to Pay Less at College Bookstores

Learn the Hidden Bookstore Hacks That Help You Pay Less for Textbooks

WESTCHESTER, IL, [August 26, 2015] – College students are always looking for opportunities to save money in a sea of rising costs. Even though the prices of tuition, room, and board are going up, there’s one place students are actually paying less – the campus bookstore. But you have to know the tricks of the trade ahead of time, according to Follett’s higher education division, which has been selling books for more than 140 years and manages more than 1,200 college bookstores.

Did you know many bookstores offer to pay students the difference between buying a book online and buying it at the bookstore? If you buy a book and then find it elsewhere at a lower price, you can ask the bookstore manager if there is a low-price guarantee or price-match program that offers compensation for the difference in price between a new, used, or rented book found at another source.  Also, many students and their families are completely unaware that financial aid money can be used to buy books and supplies. Students often don’t read the fine print of grants, which means book money is left on the table.

And don’t forget to check the school library for the book you need. Copies are not always available, but you can’t beat free if you can get it. Even beyond that, the sheer number of options for obtaining textbooks is growing rapidly, with new opportunities for even greater discounts (up to 70 percent off the price of new books) through collaboration between faculty, campuses, publishers and the campus store to bundle course materials as part of tuition or fees.

The best way to acquire textbooks and course materials this fall is to weigh the pros and cons of all your options, according to John C. Hoffman, vice president of Business Intelligence at Follett’s Higher Education Group. Check out this chart illustrating the average potential savings a student can realize when in the market for a $100 textbook, and learn more details about each available option below.


1. Buying new textbooks: If you have the money and want to keep a book forever, then buying it new is your best bet. Generally this applies to primary textbooks within your major that you’ll reference repeatedly, mark up with notes, and keep even after college. But because new books carry the highest cost, be sure you actually want to keep them. If it’s a first edition, used copies will be hard to find. If the content of the book is likely to change over time, you may want to consider other options.

2. Buying used textbooks:  For those who want to avoid paying full price for a new book, used textbooks sell for roughly 25 percent less, and you can choose to keep them when you’re done or sell them again to recoup some of the cost for an even greater savings. The downside: while used textbooks are cheaper, they may come complete with notes and highlights from the previous owners. Also, not all used books come with supplemental materials required by professors, such as an online application passcode, DVD or worksheets.

3. Renting textbooks:  Students who are even more cost-conscious can rent textbooks from 35 percent to 50 percent off the retail price. This is great for people on a budget, but it also has drawbacks. First of all, rental isn’t for every student and every situation. While it represents major savings, students have to return the book on or before a set date – which is usually tied to finals week. Also, some companies don’t allow you to highlight or make notes in a rented book, and late fees could apply if it is not returned on time.  In some cases, you’ll have the option to buy that rented book, but your total out-of-pocket cost may be higher than if you had initially purchased it used.

4. Buying the license for digital books:  Many students are opting for digital course materials. Accessing your textbooks online can save anywhere between 40 and 60 percent compared to buying a new book. This is truly the best of all worlds, allowing you to save money and access the content anywhere, anytime, without having to carry a heavy book.  Digital readers like BryteWave from Follett have rolled textbooks and study tools into one product, giving students the ability to highlight, take notes, and organize notes using your existing laptop, tablet, or phone.  So if you’re mobile, always studying on-the-go, and accessing your education from multiple locations, the digital option might be best.

5. Exploring Custom Programs:  Ask your dean, admissions officer or local campus store manager what custom programs your institution may have in place for even deeper savings.  Today, more and more schools are offering the option of including the cost of required materials directly in tuition and fees.  This puts materials in the hands of students for the first day of class, and most times, at deeper discounts than what’s available online.

6. Building a Professional Library: Don’t immediately default to the lowest cost – in the end, it may cost you more.  Mix types and formats of textbooks to match class requirements to your immediate and longer term plans for the book, as well as your budget and career goals.  If that economics textbook is core to your studies as a business major, buy it new and keep it for years and reference it later. But because that English class is not likely to be core to future economists, save money by renting that big book of poetry and give it back at winter break. Remember most digital content licenses expire—and no doubt so will your computer—so if you really want a book as a reference, go for the hard copy.

Information on Follett’s book-buying options can be found at

For more information about the Follett Higher Education Group,
go to

For more than 140 years, Follett has been a trusted partner to pre-K and K-12 schools, districts, and college campuses, taking care of the critical details that make it easier for schools to run, teachers to teach and students to learn. Every day, Follett serves over half of the students in the United States, and works with 70,000 schools as a leading provider of education technology, services and print and digital content. Follett is higher education’s largest campus retailer and a hub for school spirit and community, operating more than 1,200 local campus stores and 1,600 virtual stores across the continent. Headquartered in Westchester, Illinois, Follett is a $2.6 billion privately held company. For more information on Follett, visit


Media Contact:
Lauren Mucci