Estimated Student Spending on Textbooks Declines

Jan 12, 2012, 10:00 ET from National Association of College Stores

Save even more money on textbooks by following these 10 steps

OBERLIN, Ohio, Jan. 12, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Students estimate they spend $655 annually on required course materials – that is down from $667 two years ago and from $702 four years ago, according to the latest Student Watch™ study conducted by OnCampus Research, a division of the National Association of College Stores (NACS).


"This is terrific news for students, who continue to be pressured by the higher cost of attending college. The steady decline indicates that the money-saving strategies college stores are implementing to keep required course materials as affordable as possible for their students are having a positive impact," said Julie Traylor, NACS' Chief of Planning and Research.

The number of college stores offering textbook rental over the past two years has skyrocketed, from approximately 300 in the fall of 2009 to more than 2,500 in fall of 2011. Such print-version rental programs can save a student between 45-66% off the price of a new print textbook. In addition, college stores continue to work hard to increase their stock of used textbooks (a 25% savings) and digital, which can save 40% off the new-text price.

Charles Schmidt, NACS director of public relations, offered the following additional suggestions to students seeking to save money on textbooks:

  1. Buy used books when possible. They can save you 25% off the cost of a new textbook.  College stores strive to provide as many used textbooks as possible, but they often sell out quickly. Shop the store early or buy directly from your college store's web site to take advantage of used book sales.
  2. Consider renting or purchasing electronic texts. More and more college stores are offering these options, and rentals can give cost-conscious students temporary access to course materials for about one-third to half the price of buying a new text.
  3. Find out if your campus bookstore is using social media; become a fan of their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter. Often the store will give advance notice of moneysaving specials to followers or fans.
  4. Be cautious of hackers, spammers and phishers when purchasing course materials online from outside/unknown sources. Items might not arrive on time, causing you to fall behind in class. Also, don't forget to consider shipping expenses in the total cost of the textbook. To avoid delays, check your college store's web site for ordering convenience and peace of mind. Your local college store guarantees the correct title and edition chosen by your instructor.
  5. Know your store's refund policy, especially deadlines. This way, you won't be disappointed if you drop a class.
  6. 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 what to do and how to apply for the credit, go to
  7. 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.
  8. If you have a choice between buying a textbook by itself, or packaged with a study guide or software, make sure you need both parts.
  9. When buying locally, consider paying cash or by check/debit card to avoid credit card fees and interest. But use a credit card when buying from online sellers in case disputes arise.
  10. If you have questions, ask! Your college store professional is the course material expert, dedicated to helping you obtain all of the educational tools you need for academic success in the format you desire – including electronic texts.

About NACS
Headquartered in Oberlin, Ohio, the National Association of College Stores (NACS) is the professional trade association representing the $10 billion collegiate retailing industry. NACS represents more than 3,100 collegiate retailers and approximately 1,000 associate members who supply books and other products to college stores. NACS member stores serve America's college students while supporting the academic missions of higher education institutions everywhere. Additional information on NACS can be found online at

About OnCampus Research
OnCampus Research is a consultative research group with one mission: to help companies better understand the college market. With more than 75 years of experience in the college industry, we offer full-service quantitative and qualitative research literally 'OnCampus,' through our online panel of over 18,000 students at 1,100 campuses nationwide. Specializing in online surveys, focus groups, omnibus surveys, syndicated studies, and in-depth interviews, OnCampus works with clients to create a strategy that best fits their needs and positions them as the brand of choice among college students.


SOURCE National Association of College Stores