If a college student spends $100 per book per course and takes five
courses per semester, how much will the student spend over four
Way too much.
Soon, your student may get a break on those out-of-sight
textbook costs. As of July 1, colleges are required by law to post
required course materials, with retail prices and ISBN numbers, for
each class listed on their online course schedule. Publishers are
also required to sell textbooks and supplementary materials, such
as study guides and CDs, separately rather than in a package.
As a result, students will have more time to look for deals, and
they won't be forced to spring for nonessential materials simply
because they come with the textbook. They can also vote with their
feet if, say, one professor requires pricey new books and another
permits students to use older, cheaper editions.
Language in the new law says that colleges must post
course-material information "to the maximum extent possible," which
gives professors some leeway to make last-minute changes. And it is
likely too late to help your student this semester: Most
institutions posted their preregistration schedules months before
the law took effect. Still, colleges and universities should be
ready for the next preregistration go-round, says Richard Hershman,
of the National Association of College Stores. "Colleges have been
working for a year and a half to get into compliance."
Many college bookstores already provide pricing details at least
several weeks in advance and have launched their own cost-cutting
programs. The choice was once between new and used books, says
Hershman, but "now it's a choice of new, used, rental or e-book."
For students, that spells savings: A textbook that runs $100 new
might cost $75 used, $45 as a rental and $50 to $65 in digital
more ways to save on books
in all these formats.)