APU students are no strangers to the obscene prices of textbooks. The 50-pound stack of literature can cause about as much damage to your wallet as it does to your back, but with newly emerging online resources, it may not have to be that way anymore.
According to a study done by Bigwords.com, buying used textbooks at the beginning of the semester and selling them back at the end of the semester can actually be substantially cheaper than renting textbooks.
Bigwords.com is a trade comparison site for college textbooks founded in 2001 by Jeff Sherwood. The site operates similarly to a travel website such as kayak.com. It compares textbooks from all over the Internet to offer students the cheapest possible prices on the books they need.
To students, it can seem like the textbook sales world is determined to rip them off. They can spend up to $300 or $500 on textbooks each semester then sell them back to the bookstore for a grand total of about $20. Either that, or they go through the hassle of trying to pawn them off on Amazon, highlights and doodles included, to some poor soul for the next semester. The only other option is to rent books, which appears to cost much less, but according to Sherwood’s research, renting could essentially cost more in the end. Do not despair students of APU, for your oppressive days of textbook tyranny may be coming to an end.
Bigwords has recently added a new feature called consider-buyback-value. This handy tool not only finds the cheapest sites for students to buy textbooks, but also shows them the sites that will offer the most money to sell their books back at the end of the semester. In a study done by Bigwords on the effectiveness of the consider-buyback-value feature, researchers found students saved an average of $1,000 per year on textbooks. The study offered the following as an example of the potential savings:
“Campbell Biology, 9th Ed., Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th Ed., and Understanding Business, 9th Ed., three of the most popular textbooks used by students nationwide, retail for a combined $434. At the time of this writing, a Bigwords.com search for the cheapest places to rent these books returned a total price for all three books of $55, including shipping — that’s an 87 percent savings. But when the consider-buyback-value feature was turned on, the savings jumped to 99 percent — or a total cost of just $3.58!”
Sherwood explained buyback prices for books have gone up drastically in recent years because of the increased competition for reasonably priced textbooks. He claimed that 95 percent of the time, it is cheaper for students to buy and sell online than to rent, but the most effective way to save money with this strategy is to use a price comparison site such as his own.
“Our entire business is based on figuring out the best way for students to buy and sell textbooks,” Sherwood said. “Our business relies on students’ ability to rely on us.”
According to the College Board, the price of textbooks has risen 22 percent over the last five years. Sherwood’s research estimates the typical student spends around $1,137 on books in one year, and he claims that Bigwords’ consider-buyback-value tool lowers that number to about $137 on average. Bigwords.com also has applications available for the iPhone and iPad, as well as Android phones and various brands of tablets, making it even more convenient for students to buy and sell their textbooks on the go.
Many find the current cost of textbooks to be ridiculous. It might seem silly that a poor college student living off Ramen noodles and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches should have to pay $500 each semester for textbooks. Until now, there has not been much of a choice. Getting ripped off for textbooks has been an unchangeable fact of college life for several years now, but recent research shows it might not have to stay this way.