For years and years and years, there has been one undeniable fact of college. Textbooks are heavy and more expensive than the homecoming king's coveted Camaro. But times may be a'changing.
There are more textbooks options available today than ever before. Students can go the traditional route and still buy the 15 pound tome on post-Victorian Europe, or they can consider the following:
Rent your textbooks. Many college bookstores now let students rent their textbooks for the semester. At this point in time, it's unclear whether or not you will come out ahead if you buy and sell back the books later or rent them. But you might be able to by-pass the annoying issue of trying to sell back your textbooks and find out they will not be used next semester so there is no market for them.
There are several sources available to students for renting books other than the campus bookstore. Online book renters include:
Go Digital. The eTextbook may be the biggest change students can take advantage of compared to when I went to college. The idea of being able to carry in your book-bag every book you need for the semester was impossible just 10 years ago. I remember one 4 volume reference work I purchased in grad school. All together, it weighed close to 50 pounds. Today, it is still the standard reference work for its field; but it now costs only 5% of the money I paid for it and weighs literally nothing. To check if the books you need are available electronically, check out the following sites:
But there is the one hidden benefit of buying the old used books that just isn't available from some of the newer solutions. Every college student quickly learns that used books can be work much more than new books simply due to the notes that another student has written in the margins. Think of it as user generated content for textbooks.