Cheap Textbook Tip

Posted by T | 11:32 AM | | 3 comments »

For the past week, I have been shopping for textbooks for my new online courses in English Composition II, Ethics and Communications. I scored some great deals for three of the books I needed. I purchased them on for about five dollars each, saving about $60 per textbook.

Another textbook I needed for my English Composition II course proved to be a little more difficult. It's a newer book, and even the used books on ranged in price from $75 to $120 or more. I thought I would be stuck ponying up the full retail price, or perhaps renting the textbooks from on of the online rental services. Then, I remembered the International Edition.

Believe it or not, students in foreign countries pay much less for textbooks than students here in the U.S. Textbook publishers in the U.S. print a higher-priced, hardcover edition of the textbooks for students where in the states, and they also print a cheaper, paperback edition with a different cover and perhaps fewer pictures for students overseas. It's the same textbook...just a different cover.

I checked out in the United Kingdom and found the ISBN for the international edition of the textbook I need. Sure enough, the textbook was cheaper...about $23 British Pounds, or approximately $41 U.S. Dollars. With air mail shipping to the U.S., my textbook cost $55...still $20 cheaper than any price I could find in the U.S.

On the one hand, I'm glad I found a great deal on my textbook, even if I had to search across the Atlantic for it. On the other hand, why must U.S. students pay such a higher price for textbooks? Shame on the textbook publishers for gouging students in their own backyard. If they can print cheaper textbooks for students in Great Britain (where the currency is stonger), then why can't they do the same for U.S. students?

Savvy Frugality tip: The International Editions of textbooks are usually cheaper than the U.S. version. While international editions can't be sold in the U.S., there is nothing preventing students from purchasing international editions from foreign companies. Other good options are eBay, or renting textbooks from a service such as


  1. Christine // September 16, 2008 at 3:59 PM  

    When I was in graduate school I NEVER bought a book. I used the university's interlibrary loan. While one or two texts may have been an edition behind, it really didn't affect the assignments. With one renewal, I could keep the book the whole semester. It's worth checking out- using the library saved me thousands :)

  2. SavvyFrugality // September 17, 2008 at 8:42 PM  

    That's a great tip. I looked, but could not find my textbooks at my local public library. I did buy "The Prince" by Machiavelli for 75 cents off of, but I suppose I could have just checked it out from the library.

    The price I paid for the 5 books I needed this semester come to about what I would have paid to buy just one of them new!

  3. Anonymous // September 27, 2008 at 10:47 AM  

    I found an international version of a regression stats book for $34 once on one of those used book sites when the "real" (U.S.) cost was over $100. Insane, and a very good tip indeed.

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