If you haven’t ordered your books yet, wait no longer as the cheap used books are the first to go! The longer you wait, the less you save. And hey, don’t forget to save your receipts from your textbook and supply purchases so you can get some money back come tax time!
At CampusBooks.com, we don’t sell or buy textbooks; our business is that of providing the information and resources that students can use to make the best choices possible when it comes to saving money in their pursuits of higher education. We believe that students have options and that presented with all available information, they will make choices that are personally and globally responsible and savvy.
In this installment of the blog, we’re taking time out to make sure that you’re up to speed on the important and beneficial changes to the Hope and Lifetime Learning Credits portion of the 2009 and 2010 tax code. This information could mean up to $2,500 in tax credits for college students and their families. We urge you to do a few easy things to make sure that you are not only saving the most money now but getting the most money back come tax time.
- Visit TextbookAid.org to find out the full details of the American Opportunity Tax Credit. If your parents or anyone else is involved in paying for your education, share this information with them (and anyone else who could claim you as a dependent come tax time).
- Understand that textbook purchases now qualify as expenses under the program, but to get credit for them, you must save your receipts and keep a record of your qualified spending. The IRS has expanded the definition of qualified spending to include “expenditures for ‘course materials.’ For this purpose, the term ‘course materials’ means books, supplies, and equipment needed for a course of study whether or not the materials are purchased from the educational institution as a condition of enrollment or attendance.”
- If you haven’t already started buying your books, do so now (and file your receipts in an organized fashion). The sooner you do, the greater your chances of getting cheaper used books and first dibs on rentals. Yes, a credit come tax time is great, but savings now is imperative.
The tax-code changes are great news and we hope that you and your families will take advantage of this wonderful way in which the government is alleviating some of the high costs of furthering one’s education.
If you haven’t noticed (or you’re trying really hard not to), August is right around the corner, and with August comes the end of summer break and time to get into serious mode. With back-to-school on the horizon and the economy still in a rough patch, no one can afford to pass up the chance for some financial aid or a stimulus package. That said, CampusBooks.com and our friends at Beans for Books have teamed up for the Being Green Scholarship wherein we’re giving away a semester’s worth of textbooks as well as other textbook scholarships and a Kindle Digital Reader!
Now, you may have heard us mention all of this before. But, well, maybe that was when we kicked off the scholarship on Earth Day way back in April, and you thought, “Hey, I have plenty of time to enter, no hurry.” And then maybe you heard us mention it again but thought, “Cool, I really gotta get around to that, but I’m on summer break and I’ve got until the end of July to enter.” Right, makes sense, but now it is the end of July and there are just a few more days left to enter. So wait no longer lest you pass up this opportunity.
Applying for the Being Green Textbook Scholarship is low stress with a potential for high payoff. The bottom line is simple: Students have a chance to save some big green on textbooks by expressing (via essay or video) what being green means to them. The grand-prize winner will receive a semester’s worth of textbooks (up to $500) and three runners-up will each receive $100 worth of textbooks. One random entrant will win a Kindle Digital Reader. But as I said, time is running out and entries must be received by midnight PST on July 31, 2009 (yeah, that’s Friday, this Friday).
Winners will be selected by our friends at Beans for Books by 09/30/09 and notified by 10/15/09. All books for the winners will be acquired by Beans for Books and an emphasis will be placed on acquiring money-saving environmentally responsible used textbooks and eBooks whenever available. Entering is totally east and completely worth it. I mean, who couldn’t use some green to help pay for their books for an upcoming term? Exactly. So that said, enter now before it’s too late.
In the midst of summer (but mindful of the new fall term quickly approaching), the last thing we want is for anyone to be tethered to a computer and spending more time on indoor errands than outside enjoying the sun and friends and family. To help you get the info you need and keep you on the go and free to enjoy the weather and the good times, we’ve cranked out some technology to help you get real-time textbook price quotes on the fly.
In addition to our regular site-based search right here at CampusBooks.com, we’ve rolled out an iGoogle Gadget and Real-Time Price Tweetbacks. Check ’em out, load ’em up, and get acquainted so that you can get real-time price quotes without being shackled to a desk. And remember that the earlier you get your ISBN information and order your books, the more cash you’ll save and the more eco-friendly used books you’ll get. That said, make your price checks and orders quick, easy, and mobile by adding these two convenient apps:
For your laptop or smartphone with browser, add the CampusBooks.com iGoogle Gadget. Cool, now you’re always just a click away from the latest info on the best textbook deals.
For Tweeps who prefer information via text/SMS (standard carrier rates apply), you can set up Price Tweetbacks in a few easy steps:
- Follow CampusBooks on Twitter and send a text message to Twitter at 40404 w/the following: “Follow CampusBooks” (a one-time setup).
- Once confirmed and activated, send CampusBooks a direct message via the Web or text Twitter (40404) with the following: “D CampusBooks ISBN” (both ISBN-10 and ISBN-13 are supported).
- CampusBooks.com will respond with the lowest price and a link to purchase the book then and there.
The Deal in a Nutshell: GreenStudentU understands that the environment is the social cause of greatest importance to today’s college students. That’s why they’ve created a great-looking site that informs and educates students of all interest and knowledge levels. From dorm recycler to off-campus composter to young policy wonk championing change, GreenStudentU has something for you.
About: “Green Student University offers valuable green information and stays up to date with the latest green topics to teach college students about sustainable living practices and worldwide green events. College students are an important audience because the habits and world views that they establish today will provide them with the tools they need for their futures. By informing students of up-to-date ecological concerns and providing the advice they need to tackle these concerns, GreenStudentU will help advance the green movement for both current and future generations.”
What You’ll Find on the Site: A comprehensive green guide on a wide variety of environmental topics that include:
Why We Dig It: Being green is of tremendous importance to everyone at CampusBooks.com and we’re always on the lookout for cool sites that offer resources all wrapped up in a sweet user experience. GreenStudentU does just that. We learn something every time we visit the site because of the great updated content and we admire the look and feel in terms of the site’s form. And hey, it’s all in the name of a cause that we care about and are involved with. Speaking of, if you haven’t already done so, check out our Being Green Scholarship where you could win a semester’s worth of textbooks.
Bonus Bit o’ Cool: Need to take a break and switch gears from physics to something that uses your brain in a different way? Pop over to GreenStudentU and work your vocabulary muscles and help feed the hungry by making a rice donation for every correct answer. A nice diversion that keeps students sharp and helps feed those in need.
With the term and finals over and June here, we’ve officially moved into summer mode at CampusBooks.com. And sure, we’re working, but we’re also making some time for fun and keeping it light during the off-season. There’s a ton on our radars right now, all sorts of stuff we’re digging and looking forward to as the summer progresses. Here’s a quick roundup of what our staff’s going to be up to, feel free to chime in with the doings that have you stoked.
Lena, Marketing Manager, Baltimore, MD:
1) Hiking with my new dog: I just adopted a pup from the SPCA and she’s a bundle of energy and crazy athletic. I can’t wait to get her out on the Appalachian Trail for some hikes (and to tucker her out).
2) The release of Public Enemies: Crime drama, 1930s period piece, spectacle sets and costumes, Johnny Depp and Christian Bale, enough said.
3) Lollapalooza 2009: I love Chicago and this year’s lineup is great. Lots of top big names as well as some of my favorite new and lesser-known bands. I’m really looking forward to The Beasties, Decemberists, Neko Case, TV on the Radio, Kaiser Chiefs, Animal Collective, Gomez, and Fleet Foxes.
4) My first full summer back in Baltimore: Oppressive heat and humidity, crab feasts and beer, snowballs not snow-cones, Orioles games at beautiful Camden Yards, working in my garden. All good — well, maybe not the heat and humidity, but still.
5) World Football Challenge: Not football-football, the football played in the rest of the world: soccer! The World Football Challenge consists of six exhibition games between some of the world’s biggest teams. I’ll be attending the AC Milan vs. Chelsea FC match in Baltimore and I’m freaking out with excitement!
Alex, Founder and Owner of CampusBooks.com, San Diego, CA:
1) I’m an east-coast guy who lives in California, and summer in CA means spectacular weather and the ocean warming up. I’ll take surfing in board-shorts over surfing in my wet-suit any day.
2) I love being outside, not just hitting the waves, but enjoying the sand in addition to the surf. There’s not much that beats relaxing and camping on the beach and winding down with friends and a bonfire.
3) One of my passions is world travel and learning about the people and places and customs that make this earth so diverse and beautiful. My big trip this summer involves going to Indonesia!
4) Laughter is essential to keeping life on track and matters in perspective. Even the worst of days can be made better with a little silliness, so needless to say, I am really looking forward to my man Sacha Baron Cohen in the Bruno movie.
5) For #5, I’m going out on a limb, but summer’s all about optimism, so here goes: I am really looking forward to the Padres winning a game. There, I said it, let’s hope it’s not a jinx.
Brandon, Programming Guru, Athens, GA:
1) We’ve recently moved into a new house and added a new baby to our family. I can’t wait for our friends and family to check out the new digs and meet our new guy.
2) In addition to hosting friends and family, I’ll be hitting the road and staying with friends and family at their places. The big family event this summer is my brother’s wedding, which should be great!
3) Even with work and the family and the new house, I am really keeping up with my running. I’ve already started planning a couple of half-marathons at the end of the summer as well as some fall races and the big Thanksgiving Day Atlanta Marathon. In order to be fit and make good time, I’ve set a goal of running at least 100 miles each month this summer in preparation.
4) We’re having a blast in the garden so far and feel like we’ve mastered the early stuff like peas, lettuce, and spinach. Now we’re focused on some equally good tomatoes, onions, peppers, carrots, and even corn throughout the rest of the summer.
5) This is a given because no American summer would be complete without lots of them: outdoor barbecues with lots of friends (adults and kids) in the backyard. Good times for everyone.
Jeff, VP Business Development, Milwaukee, WI (soon to be Chicago, IL):
1) We’re moving to Chicago, and while I can’t really say that I’m looking forward to the moving part itself, I am definitely looking forward to the settling in and enjoying the new house and the city.
2) It gets pretty hot in Chicago and I have two energetic young kids. I can’t wait for some time in the pool with them!
3) I have a lot of friends and family in Chicago and it’s where my wife grew up. It’s going to be great to be close to so many loved ones and enjoy getting together at the new house and getting back into all the city has to offer.
4) Did I mention the move and my two energetic little kids? Right. So let’s just say that sometimes the best way for me to relax is to do some work. I have some new ideas for CampusBooks.com, cool stuff that helps students save even more money, more thoughts on scholarships and free textbooks, and Lena and Alex and I are working hard to take CampusBooks.com to an even higher green standard. It’s exciting stuff and it’s all in the works and coming your way soon.
5) Amidst all of this activity and planning, I gotta be honest: I am really looking forward to getting in some sweet summer naps.
Yesterday I was chatting with my friend Zack, one of the co-founders of College Finance 101. This being buyback season, the conversation jumped to the topic of textbooks and the seemingly weird world of book-buyback.
During our chat, Zack told me that he’d finished an exam earlier in the day and when he went to sell back the main textbook used for the course, the campus bookstore wasn’t buying it. While this was a disappointment, the part that added insult to injury was that a friend of Zack’s who had taken the same class and used the same book, was able to sell hers (for a tidy sum of $75 no less) just a few days ago. When Zack mentioned this to the bookstore employee, Zack was told that a new edition of the textbook was expected soon and that his friend had been able to sell her book back because hers wasn’t considered an old edition at the time. What a difference a few days makes!
In addition to this story being all too true, it’s all too common. That said, let’s look at what’s at work here and why it often seems so confusing and frustrating. As we discussed in our most recent blog entry, “Selling Back Books: A Few Simple Rules,” the textbook market behaves as all markets do, namely with sensitivity to supply and demand. Those factors are in constant flux and subject to external forces (kinda like the news of the new edition that popped up in between the time that Zack went to sell his book back and got denied and the time when his friend sold hers for $75). It’s pretty hard to tell what really happened to Zack. Sure, new editions do crop up and render older editions obsolete or less valuable, but chances are also good that the bookstore maxed out on demand and didn’t need Zack’s copy. And honestly, the confusing reasons don’t much matter when Zack’s still left with a book he doesn’t need and his friend has cash instead.
So what do you need to know to improve your chances for being able to sell your books back and get the best prices for them? It’s crazy-simple actually: sell your books ASAP because the longer you wait, the greater the chances of demand being met and/or a new edition appearing, both of which will put the kibosh on your opportunity to turn books into bucks. Also remember that you have options beyond the campus bookstore; in fact, using the CampusBooks.com Selling Tools, there’s a whole marketplace at your fingertips, a marketplace with an entirely different supply-and-demand spectrum not to mention buyers who are willing to make due with an edition that’s not the very latest.
And hey, I almost forgot! While we’re talking about buyback, we want to hear more from you! Got a buyback tale to tell? A horror story? An awesome experience? Words of wisdom for your fellow students? Let us know and if we feature your story, we’ll throw a $25 gift card your way.
Buyback time has arrived and to help you get the most for your unwanted books, we’re taking a moment to loop you in on a few rules that will help you sell books quickly and for the best rates going. As buyback is time sensitive, let’s keep this short and to the point.
RULE #1: MOVE FAST
Sell your books as early as possible, preferably before everyone else in your class does. Why? Simple supply and demand. If 75 copies of a book are needed for next term, and you’re the 76th person to try to sell that book back, you’ll get much less (if anything) because demand has already been reached and there’s no need for any more supply. It pays to hustle.
RULE #2: THINK BEYOND THE CAMPUS BOOKSTORE
Just as many students buy their books from sources other than the bookstore, so do many students sell their books elsewhere. In fact, there’s an entire virtual marketplace at your fingertips using the CampusBooks.com Buyback Comparison Tool. For each ISBN you enter, you’ll see a list of buyers currently seeking your book, how much they’re willing to pay, and the terms of the sale. If you can’t find demand for your book there, try selling it on a site like Facebook or Craig’s List. This takes a little more effort and patience, but in doing it, you might be able to keep the deal local and bypass any packing and shipping. It’s also a win-win opportunity for both buyer and seller because there’s no middleman taking a cut.
RULE #3: YOU HAVE A COMMODITY; BE INFORMED BUT NOT GREEDY
Say you’ve entered an ISBN into the CampusBooks.com Buyback Comparison Tool. There’s a buyer who’ll pay $26 for it, but you think you should get at least $32 for the book. Know that if you hold out, you could lose the chance to sell it entirely, plus the longer you wait, the longer you go without the sure cash in hand. Is losing that chance (and not having cash now) really worth $6? Know your thresholds in advance but also be flexible. Don’t blow a deal over small change. And keep in mind RULE #1, which says that the longer you hold, the less you’ll get.
RULE #4: KEEP IT REAL
The reality is that no matter how in demand and how good of condition your book is in, the buyback value is never going to be more than half of the price that the book sold for as brand new. That said, a book with a shelf price of $100 is going to max out — best-case scenario — for a buyback of $50. Max. Now this isn’t too shabby by any means, and it’s actually pretty sweet if you happened to buy the book used for $75, but remember that the half-rule by no means applies to every book. So when we say keep it real, we’re talking about your expectations and not freaking out when that same book that cost $100 at the beginning of the term fetches a value of $20 (or maybe even less given the demand) at buyback. Also remember that when you agree to sell your book, it’s on you to make that happen per your agreement with the buyer, so don’t forget to factor in shipping costs and a trip to the post office.
RULE #5: SEE RULE #1 AND GET TO IT WITH A QUICKNESS!
Being Green: What Does It Mean?
Your Answer Could Win You a FREE Semester’s Worth of Textbooks
If you haven’t already heard, CampusBooks.com celebrated Earth Day by announcing our Being Green Textbook Scholarship. Students have a chance to save some big green on textbooks by expressing (via essay or video) what being green means to them. The grand-prize winner will receive a semester’s worth of textbooks (up to $500) and three runners-up will each receive $100 worth of textbooks. One random entrant will win a Kindle2 Digital Reader.
The Being Green 2009 Scholarship runs from Earth Day, April 22, 2009 through July 31, 2009. Winners will be selected by our friends at Beans for Books by 09/30/09 and notified by 10/15/09. All books for the winners will be acquired by Beans for Books and an emphasis will be placed on acquiring money-saving environmentally responsible used textbooks and eBooks whenever available.
Entering is totally east and completely worth it. I mean, who couldn’t use some green to help pay for their books next term? Exactly. So that said, get your spring on and enter now.
CollegeClickTV: Millions of Students. Thousands of Interviews. Hundreds of Schools. One of a Kind.
The Deal in a Nutshell: CollegeClickTV offers key stats to over 2,000 colleges, videos from over 200 campuses, and over 20,000 interviews from students, professors, staff, faculty, and local merchants. It’s the scoop that you won’t get from any official college sites or a guidebooks.
About: “A student can come to CollegeClickTV and search for anything — from aspects of nightlife to campus activities to Greek life and much more. The site, in essence, picks up where the college-sponsored website leaves off. Although we do also provide school stats and other basic info, we are not competition for those other sites–we act as a complement. We’re like the gravy to their mashed potatoes. CollegeClickTV is absolutely the only website, of this magnitude and scope, to offer peer review video content on this subject matter.”
What You’ll Find on the Site:
- A comparison tool where you can examine key stats for up to 4 colleges at once
- A sweet collection of Top 5 lists ranking the serious and fun aspects of college
- Tips on admission, financial aid, balancing your studies and your personal life, and careers and grad-school options for life after college
- Downloadable images that are great for your desktop
- A killer blog feed that pulls stories from the best and brightest all over the Web
Why We Dig It: CollegeClickTV gets our attention for three reasons:
- The site emphasizes video footage, and not just any old uploads or footage that looks a lot like the cinematography from The Blair Witch Project; we’re talking about professionally shot footage.
- The breadth of coverage is pretty massive. This one site is a veritable goldmine in terms of the amount, diversity, and quality of information presented here.
- The inside scoop is awesome. We love that CollegeClickTV keeps it real in terms of tackling stuff we wouldn’t find in official college publications or guides.
Bonus Bit o’ Cool: In addition to already providing a ton of great content for both current college students and high-school students looking to select a college, CollegeClickTV is still growing, still looking to deliver more, and they’ll pay for contributions. We love this sort of ambition and win-win proposition for college students.