Last updated: August 30. 2013 6:38PM - 1128 Views

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Students heading to college can expect to spend about $662 a year on textbooks and other course materials, according to The National Association of College Stores.

But more and more college bookstores are offering alternatives through textbook rental programs, the trade group said.

The number of association member stores offering rentals has jumped to nearly 3,000 from just 300 in the fall of 2009, said Charles Schmidt, a spokesman for the group.

“Such print-version rental programs can save a student between 45 percent (and) 66 percent off the price of a new print textbook, and is often less expensive than digital formats,” Schmidt said in a statement.

Textbook rentals from college stores saved students about $450 million during the 2012-13 school year, the association said.

Schmidt said the stores offer other options as well. All sell used books, while some offer free shipping and guaranteed buybacks.

More than three-quarters of students still prefer print versions of their textbooks to digital, the trade group said.

Textbooks savings tips

The National Association of College Stores offers the following tips on how students can save on textbook purchases while purchasing from the campus store.

• Become a fan of your campus store’s Facebook page and follow it on Twitter. Stores often give advance notice of money-saving specials to followers or fans.

• Be cautious of hackers, spammers and phishers when purchasing course materials online from outside/unknown sources. Items might not arrive on time, be incorrect, or not include required access codes. Don’t forget to consider shipping expenses in the total cost of the textbook, and check refund policies. Your local campus store guarantees the correct title and edition chosen by your instructor.

• Consider renting print or electronic textbooks.

• If multiple books are listed on a syllabus, check with the store to see if there are customized options that the professor, store and publisher have created that is less-expensive and contains only the content the professor requires.

• Look into buying used textbooks. College stores strive to provide as many used textbooks as possible, but they can sell out quickly. Shop the store early or buy directly from your college store’s web site to take advantage of used-book sales.

• Know your store’s refund policy, especially deadlines. This way, you won’t be disappointed if you drop a class.

• Keep receipts. Most stores require them for returns. Also, textbook receipts are helpful during tax season when filing for the American Opportunity Tax Credit. For details on how to apply for the credit, go to www.textbookaid.org .

• Don’t write in or unwrap books until you’re certain you’ll be keeping them. Most sellers won’t offer full credit for books that have been marked or bundles that have been opened.

• When buying locally, consider paying cash or by debit card to avoid credit card fees and interest. But use a credit card when buying from online sellers in case disputes arise.

• If you have questions, as. Your college store professional is the course material expert on campus.

Check out other information from NACS at www.nacs.org.

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