In the earlier post on this topic, we concluded that I could have saved around 30 percent of what I paid for my two least expensive textbooks had I rented one of them online. I actually got a fairly decent price on a used copy of the second text from the student bookstore at my school, so I don’t need an alternative for that book. Thus, looking at only the two cheapest books, I have already overpaid by nearly 150 percent. A rather inauspicious — and non-frugal! — start to my Spring term.
In this post, we’ll see if I can do better on the remaining four — painfully expensive — textbooks, one of which is a custom-created monstrosity that my professor (at a public community college!) and his colleagues seem to believe is worth $150. As always, I’ll do a little bit of research, but if you, my frugal readers, have any better ideas, please let me know. I have until January 18 to find alternatives and return my still-shrinkwrapped books for full price.
Okay, let’s start with my marketing text, oh so playfully titled, MKTG. For the sixth edition of this text, authored by Lamb, et al., I was charged more than $15 per letter in the title: $64.95. As of this writing, Textbooks.com is currently sold out of both new and used copies of the book. Am I lucky just to have one? After further investigation, it seems that the site has moved all its stock into its book rental program because it is happy to rent me a copy at $24.99 for the entire spring semester. The site’s “Marketplace” had a copy of the book as low as $43, but they wanted to hit me with another $4 in shipping. Still, even at $47, I have overpaid by almost a third. Amazon, on the other hand, wanted nearly $45 just to rent the book. Judging my textbook by its plastic-sealed cover, I can’t see anything that screams out to me that I must have this tome for always and ever. So, if I can save $40 (or around 60%!) of the cost by renting the book, why not? Textbooks.com wins, slightly edging out BookRenter, which is a dollar less but wants the book back three weeks sooner.
Moving up the price ladder, Ingram’s Sell (3rd ed.) comes in at a wallet-gouging $79.95. BookRenter is out of the 3rd edition but will rent me the 2nd edition for $10.99. Amazon, however, will sell me a NEW copy for $52.49 and is currently offering free shipping on orders over $25. I can by a used one from an Amazon Marketplace seller for as little as $30 plus shipping for a total of $34. Chegg.com is the only renter that I could find with the book in stock, and wants $26 for the rental. In this case, it may be worth just buying the book from Amazon ($4 price difference) and save the return hassle. In doing so, I still save (including shipping) $45 off what I paid at the school bookstore, or a whopping 60% discount.
Now, we get to the serious big dogs. Vaughn’s Doing Ethics set me back the price of an iPhone with a contract: $93.50. The REALLY horrible thing about buying this book is that, not only did they charge me (less than two weeks ago) almost $100 for this text, a new edition comes out on January 2, which will of course make my 2nd edition basically worthless. This seems like an immediate-return scenario so that I can capitalize on the woes of other students in my situation. I’ll do some initial research now, but it may be worth waiting a few days before I pull the trigger on this particular purchase/rental. Amazon is selling the text new for $80, but it’s already going for a deflated $27 in the Marketplace. Rentals from both BookRenter and Textbooks.com come in around $24 (Chegg.com is $29). Again, I fall in the have something to show for my money camp and favor springing for the extra $3 and buying the used book.
So, before we move on to the custom text, let’s recap. For Mktg., Sell and Doing Ethics, I paid a total of $238.40. If I rent Mktg. from Textbooks.com and buy the other two used from Amazon Marketplace, I will pay a total of around $86 (including shipping) for the three books. A savings of more than $150… almost 60% of what I paid.
After some casting about on the Web, I have been unable to find a copy of the custom materials for sale. I’ll see if there’s anything posted at the school itself, but it looks like I may just have to grit my teeth and take the $150 that I was charged for this one. The final grand total of all my books, once more frugally purchased/rented will be $261, which is more than $160 (nearly 40%) less than I paid at the school. You all enjoy your post-holiday returns at the mall… I’m going to the campus bookstore!