In getting ready for classes, we found that if we had paid full price for all of the books that he needed for college it would have been several hundred dollars, but instead we were able to find used books to purchase online for under $100 and I thought I would share some of the tools and tips that we used.
1. Decide if you want to buy or rent
If you can, flip through the book at the campus bookstore or library before making a decision and see if the book would be a good reference for future classes or in the field of study. If so, it would probably be a better deal to buy it.
If it is not something that will be used or referenced, renting might be the right direction, but be sure to compare costs; sometimes you can buy a used book in good condition for much cheaper than you can rent it.
If the book has several editions, check comments online and also check with the teacher to find out if a prior edition could be used. On the example, a new copy of the 5th edition was $180, a used copy $110+ and to rent around $75. The only difference between the 4th edition and the 5th is the cover page an few pages added to the 5th and his teacher approved using the 4th edition when asked. We purchased the 4th edition under $40 used, which includes expedited shipped saving us $140.
3. Check Finders Cheapers
Finders Cheapers is a site that not only pulls up the prices and compares prices of different text books (you can search by name, author or IBN #) it also pulls up current discounts and the shipping cost to rent or buy.
By using this tool we saved $32 on one book that was needed.
Although we didn't find cheaper options using these services, I would recommend checking out Half.com and Ebay.com as it might be possible to get a book cheaper off a student that no longer needs or wants the book. If you do, remember to be sure to check out the sellers feedback rating and how long it will take to ship.
If anyone else has any other suggestions, please feel free to post them in the comments section:)