For this upcoming school year, college students will have a pleasant surprise. The Higher Education Opportunity Act now requires colleges to release the book lists at the time of class registration. This means that now you will have ample time to find the best deals on textbooks rather than be forced to buy from the over-priced campus bookstore the day before classes begin.
We learned of a great site that saves you time from comparing used book prices from every online retailer. A website called Bigwords does for textbooks what BillShrink does for cell phone plans. All you need to do is provide the site with the title, author or ISBN number and Bigwords searches the web to find you the cheapest price for your book. Once you have found all your books for the semester, it will combine shipping costs for books from the same vendor (often offering you free shipping promo codes or other discounts).
One of my favorite features is the ability to filter out “rental” books, which you borrow for a semester. I know there has been a big push to rent books as a way to save money, but it never made much sense to me. Often I found it was more expensive to rent than to buy used. Even if you do pay a bit more to buy the book, you can sell your books back via Bigwords and they promise to get you up to 75% of your money back.
Throughout college I knew way too many people who paid hundreds and hundreds of dollars for their books every semester and justified it by claiming it was too much of a hassle to buy online. On average, I saved at least $200 a semester by spending 5 minutes online. Sometimes I even splurged for next-day shipping if I needed the book quickly for an assignment.
I also just discovered that they can find you the cheapest DVDs, music and games too! BillShrink gives Bigwords an A+ for helping us shrink our bills.