College Students: The Time to Buy Textbooks is Now

By Catherine Groux
Posted August 21, 2012 10:00 AM

Students can save money on textbooks by buying them soon.
Students can save money on textbooks by buying them soon.
Today, the average college student spends about $655 each year on required course materials like textbooks, a recent study by OnCampus Research states. While this is certainly a hefty price, there are a variety of ways students can keep their textbook costs low, including renting their texts, purchasing e-books and buying their materials sooner rather than later.

A new study by analyzed three years of August textbook sales data to find that the price of used books rises as much as 10% as the school year approaches. When summer slowly fades away, even the cost of rental textbooks can increase as much as 7%.

"It’s basic economic principles," said Jeff Cohen, chief executive officer of, in a statement. "Used books are the baseline of all pricing. As used books sell out and there are fewer of this desirable commodity, the price of the remaining used books begins to rise to reflect demand and scarcity. Rental prices are typically tied to the used-book market and increase too."

Cohen added that if they plan ahead, it can be relatively simple for students to save money on course materials. The key, he said, is to shop early, compare costs and secure savings before reduced-priced items sell out.

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