The University Network

The Invisible Hand of the Textbook Industry: The Best and Worst Times to Buy Textbooks

There are good and bad times to buy textbooks.

If you paid attention in your economics class, you’d know that in any market, the supply and the demand dictate the price. Well, the textbook industry is no exception (except that the price starts out VERY HIGH).


At the start of each school semester, textbook prices are ridiculously high. That’s because everyone‘s trying to get their textbooks (demand > supply).

But a few weeks into the semester, prices actually come down a bit, as the dropped class books come back into the available inventory. But this lasts only for a while— around midterms and then again during finals week, textbook prices surge again, as the students who thought they could get by without textbooks come to the sober realization that they do in fact need the textbooks to pass their classes. And by this time, they’re willing to pay almost anything for their textbooks. 

So before you reach that point, hurry and get your textbooks when they are at their lowest prices!

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Textbook prices are fickle and so are the vendors. Seriously, they change all the time

The only way to ensure that you get the best deal is to keep up with them, which can be kind of annoying, or impossible altogether. 

Solution? Let TUN do the work for you– instantly compare prices from thousands of sellers to get the cheapest new, used, rental or e-books!

P.S. – Many students feel justified downloading illegal copies of textbooks because they feel that they are not getting a fair value for the prices (and I do not blame you). But not only is this criminal, it defies common sense given the many ways to find cheap textbooks. Why not, instead of paying $5.95 for an illegal copy, rent a legal copy for $10.95 or buy a used textbook for $12.99? Is it really worth committing a Class D felony to save a few dollars? Besides, buying a used textbook (which you can sell back) might cost you less money (net worth) than buying an illegal copy.

RELATED: The Secret to Making a Profit Selling Back Your Textbooks (Seriously!)