We all know that textbooks aren’t getting any cheaper. Textbook prices have historically risen at over twice the rate of inflation and last year the average student spent over $1,000 annually on textbooks. Luckily, the Internet has unleashed a torrent of products and services to help you cut your textbook bill. From textbook rentals, to online price comparisons, to international editions, to textbook sharing, there have never been more options for you to save on textbooks.

Now, the latest technological marvel at your disposal will not only help you save on textbooks, but it can even be used to get your books for free. In fact, it’s even possible to make money on your textbooks! The reason has to do with simple economics: the law of supply and demand, and the nature of the textbook industry. In the financial world, this type of move is called arbitrage. Arbitrage is the simultaneous purchase and sale of something to profit from a price difference, and it exists due to market inefficiencies. In the textbook business, if you can time the purchase and sale of your textbooks correctly, you can take advantage of the big swings in price for both buying and selling books.

The tool that allows you to arbitrage your textbooks is the patent-pending CampusBooks Buy Vs Rent (BvR) SuperBot. Our tool takes into account historical pricing patterns for not only your particular book, but the industry as a whole, and uses that data to predict future sale prices of your book in both rush and buyback seasons. To use the BvR tool, simply search for your book on CampusBooks and the BvR tool will automatically present you with the suggested buy or rent option, based on the total cost of ownership of the book. The BvR tool also gives you customizable options based on your unique circumstances to give you a more accurate recommendation.

In order to maximize the BvR tool and get free textbooks, or even make money on your books, you need to be flexible in when you buy and sell your books. The best strategy is to buy and sell your textbooks off season due to the fact that there are tremendous seasonal price differences. For example, the traditional back-to-school months of August, September, and January are when most students purchase their books and prices are the highest. If you are able to purchase your books in the off season, especially in December and May, you can usually find significant discounts. On the flip side, if you can sell your used books during a rush month such as August or September, you can usually make much more money on your used textbooks than if you sold during a traditional buyback month of May or December.

Of course, this is all easier said than done. The secret is to find out beforehand what books you need and to buy early. If you know what class you are going to take, and you can contact your professor ahead of class to get your book over the summer, then you will be ahead of the game. If you then sell your book in January, chances are you will have spent very little on that book. Now, if you are unable to time your book buying and selling perfectly, you can still lower your costs by hanging on to your books until the next rush month and selling then, instead of selling during the end-of-semester buyback period when buyback prices are lowest. Of course, no matter when you sell your books, you always want to keep them in as good condition as possible, since buyback companies not only pay more for better condition books, but most won’t even purchase books in poor condition.

The caveat to the textbook arbitrage strategy is future editions of your book. If a new edition comes out, your book value will take a big hit so if you should sell your book as quickly as possible if you discover a new edition is being released. You could also use this knowledge to your advantage, and purchase a cheap older edition book. Most times the content of the textbook changes very little from one edition to the next, the main difference is that an older edition book won’t have the textbook access codes so if you need the access codes, an arbitrage strategy is your best bet.

We hope this blog post saves you some money on your books and you can take full advantage of the technology available to you on CampusBooks.com.

By now, you’ve probably noticed that every purchase you make these days comes with a pitch for an upgrade or some add-on that the seller swears that you need but that makes you wonder if it’s at all legit. Whether it’s the rust-proofing on a new car (H/T Seinfeld) or an extended tech-support subscription, nothing is just a product anymore; there are always extras and they always have fees… and publishers know this so they perpetuate the highly profitable model when it comes to college textbooks.

With academic publishing being a for-profit endeavor and textbook publishers being clever producers well versed in creating demand, you need to be a smart shopper and just as savvy when it comes to buying textbooks as you are when it comes to buying the latest smartphone. What used to be a simple choice between expensive new books and cheaper used books now involves factoring in whether it’s better to buy or rent textbooks, whether eBooks are worth a try, whether or not you can get by sharing textbooks (or not using the textbook at all), and of course, whether or not you need the mysterious access code.

So what’s the deal with textbook access codes and do you really need them? And if you really do need an access code, do you absolutely have to buy a brand-new book so as to guarantee that the code is still valid and you can get the material that is beyond the book?

In a nutshell: access codes are complicated and whether you need them or not is really on a case-by-case basis. So knowing that you need to evaluate your own particular needs (with regard to the text, the syllabus, your professor, etc.), there are still some general rules that will help you decide whether or not you need to pay extra to get a book that has a brand-new active access code.

First, Check Yourself and Ask “Do I Even Need the Textbook with the Access Code?”

  1. Look at your syllabus. If on your syllabus you see no indication of using the supplement or online components such as readings and quizzes or problem sets, you might not need that pricey little code and you might be able to get a much cheaper used book without the extras. Note: If you need to complete graded assignments online, you’re going to need a unique access code (more on those in a minute).
  2. Talk with your professor. Even if you don’t see supplemental stuff on the syllabus, talk with your professor and make sure that you will not need the online access components and that the in-textbook readings themselves will suffice. This is also a great way to meet your prof and indicate that you are on board and into doing all you need to do for the course.

If You Really Do Need a Textbook with an Access Code…

So you’ve checked and asked, and yeah, you do need the access code. What now? Are you condemned to buying a brand-new copy of the book and paying that crazy price that includes the access code? Maybe but maybe not.

It used to be that the answer was always yes and there was no way around that. If you needed access codes for textbooks, you had to buy what is called the bundle or the package. This included a new print textbook and the supplement that could only be used once. And publishers loved this monster that they had created because it meant that they eliminated the used textbook market and the textbook rentals options for entire books and even courses. Mo’ money for them, mo’ problems for students.

In short, it got messy. A lot of third-party sellers took used editions where the access codes were no longer valid and they sold those books not caring whether or not students needed the codes. Some sketchy third-party sellers even started sites where they promised that students could download textbook access codes (for free or at serious discounts). But those downloads were useless and they contained things like malware or they required that the user enter private data, which compromised the user’s identity, and scammers profited. Beware offers on YouTube and eBay for access codes!

Things are a little better now. Students voted with their wallets by simply not buying new books with expensive access codes or buying used copies and doing without the codes. And because money talks, publishers realized that they had alienated a lot of college students by creating these massively expensive bundles of textbooks plus access codes. Publishers got wise and came up with a compromise, one that we recommend for you if you really do need textbook access codes: Legal and legitimate downloads of just the access code and supplemental material directly (and safely and securely) from the publisher thus freeing you to buy or rent a money-saving used textbook. This sort of a la carte option isn’t available for all textbooks with supplements but leading publishers like Pearson, WebAsssign, McGraw-Hill, and MyMathLab are making it increasingly so.

Bottom line: Only get the access code if you absolutely must have it and you have verified that on your syllabus and from your professor. If you do have to purchase a textbook access code, do not immediately buy the new bundle but instead consider buying just the code from the publisher or portal as well as a copy of the used textbook or even renting it.

Is it better to buy or rent textbooks? If we had a nickel for every time we get asked that question . . . well, we’d have a lot more money than the college bookstore is offering to buy back that $200 math textbook you bought last semester.

In truth, the answer to “Should I buy or rent textbooks?” is complicated because there’s no single right answer that applies to all textbooks for all students (or even most books for most students). But that doesn’t mean that the question doesn’t have an answer, it just means that arriving at that answer happens on a textbook-by-textbook basis and it relies on a lot of data and knowledge.

After nearly twenty years saving college students money on textbooks and going through all of the changes and innovations with rental textbooks and eBooks and access codes and custom editions, CampusBooks.com has the answers and now we can tell you if it’s better to buy or rent textbooks. And we’re not talking generally, we’re talking specifically about you (you, the individual student) and whether or not it makes more sense to buy or rent the exact textbooks that you need.

Behold the Buy Vs. Rent SuperBot and never wonder if you’re paying too much for textbooks!

CampusBooks BvRIt’s so easy and so helpful and it takes the guesswork out of getting textbooks without getting ripped off. Just do what you already do: go to www.CampusBooks.com and enter the ISBN for the textbook you need.

When you get your price-comparison results and you see all of your options, look for the Buy Vs. Rent tool in the left column just under the book’s cover image. There you’ll see our recommendation for your best option. We literally do all sorts of complicated math behind the scenes in order to tell you (based on tons of data) whether it’s better to buy or rent a textbook.Buy Vs. Rent Details

And if you want more info or to customize the recommendation based on things like how well you take care of your books, hit the Find Out Why button. You can personalize your recommendation and even see trends about the textbook and its historic and estimated buyback values. And then you can make the best decision as to whether it’s better to buy textbooks or to rent them.

Enjoy the savings and the peace of mind.

By now, you already know that paying list price for books or buying them on campus is crazy and that you can save up to 90% on textbooks using CampusBooks.com. But here’s a little hint to help you save more: When you search for your books and run your textbook price comparison, look for the little blue cash icon in the Coupons column.

Textbook CouponsSee it? Sweet. Now mouse over that icon (or see the details below the listing if you’re using our app) and you’ll see exactly how much more you can save with textbook coupons.

All year we’ve got money-saving extras like free shipping and bonus buyback cash so that you get the most for your textbook bucks. But just in time for back-to-school 2016, we’ve loaded up CampusBooks.com with more (and better) textbook coupons than we’ve ever had before.

These coupons cover buying textbooks and renting textbooks and many of our coupons are CampusBooks exclusives, which means that you can’t find these add-on savings anywhere else. Seriously, an extra 10 seconds of your time could save you an extra 10% (or more) on your textbooks this fall. Save on, smart shoppers, save on.

Headed to college? Your dorm room is going to be your humble abode for the foreseeable future so you should strive to make it as comfortable, functional, and cool as possible. What are some essential items that will make your room go from just a place to stay to a place where you can really live?

Closet Organization Tools

It’s a brutal truth that dorm rooms are tiny, and the closets are often pathetically cramped. To make the most out of the space that’s available to you, buy some tools to help get your wardrobe in order. A hanging shoe rack can keep your footwear from creating chaos, while some stackable shelves or some cheap plastic drawers are the perfect place to keep items you don’t want to hang like underwear and socks. One idea to create extra space is to use the tabs from soda cans to offset hangers.


Before you buy sheets, be sure to find out if your bed is a regular twin or a twin extra long (XL). If it’s extra long, you may have a harder time finding sheets. Shop online for sheets that fit your personality and can add some style to an otherwise dull dorm room. Buy a matching comforter and pillows so your bed becomes the decorative centerpiece of your space.

Extra tip: You should invest in at least two sets of sheets. If you spill something on your bed, you don’t want to have to make any late night runs to the laundry room.

A College-Style Kitchen

Alright. You can’t exactly buy a kitchen to go in your dorm room, but you can buy a few items that will save you from spending all your money on takeout.

  • A mini-fridge. This is the perfect place to store your drinks and your leftovers. Maybe you and your roommate can split the cost and share a small fridge.
  • A microwave. You might be surprised by how many delicious things you can make in a microwave.
  • Dishes and cutlery that won’t break. Some sturdy, plastic food storage containers are always handy, but you also want some items that are microwave-safe.

Before you buy your food supplies, check the dorm’s rules. Safety regulations might limit what you can have in the way of microwaves, hot plates, etc.

Study Materials

Of course, your textbooks are going to be your primary study tool, but you can complement your textbooks to make the experience of studying in your dorm room as easy as possible.

A lap desk and a small clip-on light will be great for those late nights when you want to sit on your bed and study with minimal disruption to your roommate. Also buy a variety of different colored pens, highlighters, sticky notes, and index cards so you can keep all your materials organized. You’re totally going to ace that exam!

Shower Supplies

Shared showers can be on the gross side, so bring shower shoes to protect your feet from fungus and other forms of ickiness. A caddy to carry all your shower supplies in will also come in handy. Don’t forget a bathrobe so you can stay covered while you’re journeying from your dorm to the shower.

Outfit your dorm with all the essentials so that it’s both functional and comfortable.

With summer well underway, you might not want to think about hitting the books again in the fall. However, if you take the right steps now, you could prepare yourself for peak productivity when you return to class. It’s easy to daydream about staying organized, planning for the future, and meeting all of your obligations, but none of those dreams will come to fruition unless you start strategizing.

Create Good Habits — and Stick to Them

When you want to create new habits, don’t postpone them until the first day of school. Instead, use the summer to hone your productivity skills, whether you’re working a part-time job, starting a new hobby, or leaning a foreign language. Set achievable goals for yourself, and celebrate each time you hit a milestone.

You might think that some people are just born with a natural ability to organize and stay productive, but you can learn those skills. As you practice, it will become second nature. If you struggle at first, keep a journal to help hold yourself accountable to your failures and your successes.

Leverage Smartphone Apps

That little device that never leaves the palm of your hand can do more than keep you connected to your college pals. Numerous productivity apps exist, so download and test a few on your smartphone. Use these apps to track your to-do list, keep up with your assignments, and manage your calendar.

Some students find that their productivity slips when they stress out. Fortunately, apps can also help you balance your budget and save money. For instance, you can use the CampusBooks app to find the best prices on textbooks in the fall.

Establish Boundaries

Unfortunately, most students don’t leave peer pressure behind when they walk across the stage at high school graduation and head to the hallowed halls of their chosen universities. When your friends want to stay up all night and party, you might find yourself tempted to join them.

To combat this pressure, set boundaries for yourself this summer. For instance, maybe you’ll reserve Saturdays and Sundays for recreation and socialization, but keep your weekday nights free for studying. If you’re clear about your boundaries, you can enforce them more effectively.

Go Analog

For some people, technology doesn’t enhance technology — it gets in the way. When using your smartphone or computer for its apps tempts you into conducting endless internet searches or checking your friends’ social media statuses, consider investing in a paper planner. If you’re on a budget, pick up a 50-cent notebook at the supermarket and turn it into a bullet journal.

Along those same lines, set limits for yourself when it comes to technology and media. For instance, you could check social media only once per day and turn off your phone’s text and email alerts.

Productivity isn’t an inborn talent that you can leverage from birth. Some people struggle for it, but you’ll thank yourself when you get your assignments turned in on time and never miss class because of poor planning. If you get in the habit this summer, you’ll nail productivity in the fall.

Have second thoughts about your liberal-arts degree begun to haunt you? It’s a common problem for students who declare a liberal-arts major and then hear rumors about poor employability and depressing income potential. To put your fears at bay, let’s look at some of the facts about liberal-arts degrees.

You’re in Good Company

Writing for Time magazine, Jack Linshi lists 10 successful CEOs of major U.S. corporations who started their professional lives with liberal-arts degrees. The list includes luminaries like Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki.

Wojcicki, for instance, graduated from Harvard in 1990 with a BA in history and literature. History, in particular, has often received criticism as a degree with no future, but you can score plenty of well-paying jobs if you’ve discovered a passion for the past. Whether you teach history or become a corporate historian for a major company, you can easily earn a comfortable living. Of course, you could always become the next CEO of a major media company.

Creativity Has Become Currency

Regardless of your future career, creativity will serve you well. Maybe you’re a journalism or English major, for instance, and spend your holiday breaks reading everything you can find. You likely have a vivid imagination and a strong focus on small details. These creativity skills might make you more appealing to prospective employers — not less.

In fact, Fast Company reports that today’s top tech CEOs want to hire liberal-arts grads. They’re looking for professionals with liberal-arts training because the arts nurture creativity and encourage critical thinking. Liberal-arts degree holders often know how to develop new solutions for businesses and can wear multiple hats at their companies.

The World Has Gotten Smaller

The Internet and other technologies have made it easier to socialize and do business with people from different cultures. However, language barriers still exist, and people who can speak multiple languages hold tremendous value in business. Whether you want to teach English to children in a foreign country, communicate with non–English-speakers in a law office, or travel abroad as an interpreter, you have many options.

Furthermore, Rebecca Callahan, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction at the University of Texas, reports that bilingual people often demonstrate “higher test scores, better problem solving skills, sharper mental acuity, and greater empathy.” These benefits can serve you well as you hunt for a job after graduation and negotiate for a raise in the middle of your career.

Passion Matters

Did you know that happy people enjoy higher income potential? Don’t pursue a STEM career just because you’re worried about employability. Forcing yourself to work in an unattractive field will simply depress you, and it could reduce your salary potential.

If you love the liberal arts, you’ll find a way to make your degree profitable. Since you’re pursuing your passion, you’ll find yourself happier, more contented, and less stressed.

Don’t panic about your liberal-arts degree. Instead, embrace your future in a field you love, and start making good things happen.

Credit cards can be useful financial tools, but they can also lure you into financial disaster. Too many young borrowers make mistakes that cost them dearly for years into the future. Apply the following tips to learn healthy credit card habits from the start.

Don’t Accept a Bad Deal

All credit card companies want to make profits, of course, but some do it in ways that seems tantamount to robbery. If you don’t have a credit history, you might be tempted to apply for credit cards all over the place — even if those cards come with outrageously high interest rates or annual fees. Apply only for cards you will actually use. Before you submit any applications, make sure you understand the card’s interest rate and whether it charges an annual fee. And don’t apply for a lot of cards. All of those applications go on your credit history as negative indicators, making it harder for you to borrow.

Don’t Overspend for the Sake of Getting Rewards

Rewards credit cards can provide you with cash back, fun gifts, and even vacations. However, you should never overspend just because you want to earn rewards. For example, if your monthly budget is $2,000, but have to spend $3,000 within a month to get a prize from your credit card, you’ll end up having to slowly chip away at that deficit — and pay interest on it. Your goal should be to pay the entire balance on your card each month. If you go into debt, make sure that it isn’t for frivolous reasons.

Check Your Credit Card Statements

Some stores don’t even require your signature for credit purchases if you spend under a certain amount, and how often do cashiers ask to see your ID? These practices are an open door for identity thieves. Learn about how to protect your sensitive credit card information.

No matter how diligent you are about safeguarding your credit card, however, it’s still possible that fraudulent charges will show up on your statements. Save your receipts and compare those receipts with your credit-card statement every month. Many credit and banking companies will monitor your card for suspicious charges, but don’t rely solely on their system.

If you have concerns about anything you see on your statement, contact the company immediately so they can put a freeze on your account.

Watch Out for Fees

Penalties for late payments are notoriously steep, so it is important that you pay your bill on time each month. You might even be able to set up automatic payments.

There are other credit-card fees you should watch out for, too. For example, there might be a charge if you want a card with a fancy design on it. There might also be fees for increases to your credit line, cash advances, balance transfers, foreign transactions, and going over your credit limit.

Don’t let the little piece of plastic in your wallet go from being a useful tool to a nuisance. Use your first credit card wisely, and you’ll set yourself up for a lifetime of good credit.

If you have a lot of debt to pay off, you’re far from alone. According to a report from late 2014, 40 million Americans have student-loan debt. Even though you’re still in school, there is no time like the present to start tackling your student loan debt — along with any other debt you might have. But how should you go about paying off your debts?

Know Your Debt

If you just make minimum payments on all your debts, you’ll end up paying far more than you have to on interest and it will take you decades to be debt-free. Take an honest look at all your bills. How much do you owe on each account? What are the interest rates? Are there penalties for prepayment? Having this information in hand can equip you to put together a smart plan for getting out of the red.

Choose Which Debt to Pay Off First

You should focus on paying off one debt at a time. This will ultimately save you money on interest and keep you focused on your financial goals.

You can choose to pay off your smallest debt first. Pour as much money as you can into the debt each month while you make minimum payments on all your other debts. After your smallest debt is paid off, roll the money you were using on it into the next debt. This will give you a sense of accomplishment as you quickly see some of your monthly payments disappear.

Alternatively, you can pay off your most expensive debt first. By focusing on the debt with the highest APR, you could save hundreds or thousands of dollars on interest.

As you slog your way through your debts one at a time, you might also put a little extra into the debts that aren’t your main focus. For example, if you use a credit card for a small purchase, you could promise yourself to pay off that small purchase immediately — and add a few extra dollars onto the bill. This will keep you accountable for your spending and make an impact on your overall debt.

Consider Consolidation

Student loans generally have low interest rates, so debt consolidation should only be an option for you if you have other, high-interest, unsecured debts. The consolidation will allow you to combine all of your monthly credit card payments into one. Your budget will be simpler, and you’ll save money on interest.

Choose a Career Path With Student Loan Forgiveness

If you’re still early in your college career, it might not be too late to choose a major that will lead to a career that offers student loan forgiveness. If you go into public service after you graduate — for example, if you work for the government or a nonprofit organization — you may eventually qualify to have your student loans forgiven.

Debt is a worrisome thing for most college students, but the sooner you put together a plan to pay it off, the less stress you’ll have later on. Choose a debt payment method that works with your situation and your budget.

When you’re living on ramen packets and you don’t know if you’ll be able to afford your next tank of gas, a payday loan can seem like a tempting way to get the cash you need right away. All you have to do is pay it back when you get your check, right? Stop right there. Payday loans are extremely dangerous.

Preying on Students

College students are often desperate for money, and payday loan companies prey on that vulnerability. An article in The Guardian states, “adverts for payday loans weed out the people they’re not interested in, until all they’re left with are the incredibly desperate or the young and unreasonably optimistic.” College students are a special target because of their unique circumstances. Of course you’re not dumb, but your circumstances may trick you into thinking that taking out a payday loan won’t have dire consequences. In truth, though, these loans are nothing but traps.

Shocking Interest Rates

According to PayDayLoanInfo.org, the average payday loan comes with an annual percentage rate (APR) of around 400 percent. Sometimes, the APR can be close to 800 percent. Your jaw is probably already on the floor, but to drive the point home, think about interest rates for credit cards, which usually have an APR between 10 and 30 percent. Credit cards seem like a bargain compared to payday loans!

Usually, you are expected to repay a payday loan with your next paycheck, as the name of the loan implies. However, you may be given the option of simply paying a finance charge and rolling over the loan into your next pay period. The more you do this, the more money you end up paying for nothing. This can turn into a debt spiral that will cost you hundreds or thousands of extra dollars over time.

Avoid Payday Loans

The best way to avoid getting trapped in a payday loan scam is to create a budget and stick to it. Anticipate the hard times, and set aside a rainy day fund for when you can’t work as much or when you have added expenses.

But what if you simply don’t have the means to set aside money ahead of time? You might think that if the choices come down to getting a payday loan or not eating, a payday loan is the lesser of two evils. However, you may have other alternatives.

Hit Craig’s List and sell some stuff you don’t need anymore. You’ll get cash, reduce clutter, and hook someone else up with something they do need.

Ask your employer about a pay advance. Many employers are flexible, and they want to please their loyal employees, so it can’t hurt to ask for a bit of an advance on your next check. Just don’t make a habit of doing this.

Another option is to take something valuable to a pawn shop and use it as collateral for a loan. It’s a quick way to get some cash, and you’ll be able to get your valuables back when you repay the loan.

Payday loans are scary — scarier than that horror flick that gave you nightmares when you were a kid — so avoid them by being smart about your budget and taking advantage of payday loan alternatives.