7 On Your Side: Ways to get college books for cheap

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As college students hitting the books this fall, they are finding out just how hard the books can hit their wallets. Students will spend an average of $1,200 this year on books alone. However, there are ways to cut those costs drastically, so 7 On Your Side takes a look at how you can do that.

Students tell me they go to the first day of class and pray the professor won't assign too many books. Each one can easily run $100, $200, $300 or more. However, with all the new marketplaces popping up online these days, we've found you no longer have to pay full price for your text books.

For millions of college students, tuition, room and board are enough to deplete an entire budget. Then, on top of that, add on the books.

"I remember just looking at it and going, '$200? That's crazy!'" Van Diest said.

ABC7 intern Ingrid Van Diest is a student at the University of San Francisco. She has to buy five books this semester and a communications book alone costs $184 at the college bookstore, or $138 for a used one. She said, "I have to pay for food and rent and tuition, so to find that kind of money just to pay for a book is kind of ridiculous."

And the book "Milton to McLuhan" sells for $123 at the bookstore -- way over her budget.

"I kind of made a chart and I go to five different websites," Van Diest said.

So she goes online in search of a deal and finds a huge range in prices.

"One website will say this book is $100, whereas another will say this book is $89.99," Van Diest said.

She finds the book "From Milton to McLuhan" on Amazon wants a heart-stopping $598 for it. However, another seller offers a used one for just $13.

Another website, Chegg.com, offers a used version for $24, but then Ingrid finds a steal.

A seller on the website Half.com is offering the same book for just 75 cents. Ingrid snaps it up, saving almost $100. And as for that $184 communications book, she saves money another way.

"Usually, I end up renting books because for me it's a lot cheaper," Van Diest said.

She finds it for rent on both Amazon.com and Chegg.com for about $27 and on Half.com for just $19.99.

Adding it up, she would have spent nearly $500 buying her books new at the college store, by shopping around, she spent nowhere near that.

"I only spent $74.23," Van Diest said.

Many students are saving a lot of money by renting books. The downside, you have to return them of course, and you can't mark up a rented book.

Here are links to several online marketplaces:
Efollett.com (directs to your campus bookstore)
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