So school has started and you already have to make big decisions like: money for books or food for the entire year?!

The cost of books has definitely spiked over the past 8 years, but thanks to technology- specifically online retailers, auctions sites and classifieds- the cost of any one book can range drastically.  If money is tight, skip the school bookstore line and check out some of the sites below.

Book Rentals:  There are a slew of new sites that will loan you a college textbook for the semester and charge you about 1/3 of what it would cost to purchase (not counting the space it would take being stored under your bed for the next 10 years).  Here are some good ones:

CampusBookRentals.com- My personal favorite.  They offer longer rental times for the cheapest price.  A book that costs about $170 new can be rented for four months for about $50.  Be sure to search for coupon codes to get a few extra off.  Here’s one for $6 off: julysurvey.  Lastly a company of the proceeds for your book rental will go directly to Operation Smile helping fund surgeries for children in impoverished countries.

Bookrenter.com- Founded by a student from Santa Clara University, this site offers some pretty good discounts (up to 80% off).  Be careful to check when the book is “due back by” because if you’ve selected 90 or 120 days you may find an earlier due date than that exact number. 

Collegebookrenter.com- This is a site where you can rent books but also buy and sell them if you want to weigh your options.  Again, be careful to check when the book is “due back by” because it’s not always aligned with the time you selected and it would be a shame to owe the book back a week before finals. 

If you’d like to purchase the book (new or used) but still don’t think the bookstore has the best deal, here are some tried and true sites that will normally shave a few bucks off:

Newegg.com

Amazon.com

Textbooks.com

eBay.com

SuperBookDeals.com

Tips: “This book normally $200, but on this site it’s only $15!!”  Be very careful you’re not buying “Test Booklets”, “Study Manuals”, or other supplementary materials by accident when you think you’re getting the actual book.  This is when it’s handy to find the ISBN code to make sure you’re purchasing the real deal.