These days, crazy threesome-ing college students can spend between $700 to $1500 a semester on textbooks. Seems like a lot of cash to spend on an Organic Chemistry book that (despite having an awesome picture of a skier or snowboarder on the cover) is the least fun thing in the world to read.

Here’s a few money saving suggestions that should provide a boost to that Smirnoff Ice fund of yours (you pussy):

1. eTextbooks – They are all the rave now, many times they are literally 50% cheaper than their Johannes Gutenberg-style counterparts. Check out websites like CourseSmart to find out if potential book list money drainers are available on the interwebs.

2. Used Book Price Comparisons – Unless your professor is an absolute tool who makes you buy the new edition of the class textbook (which he authored) each semester, then there is no reason to waste money on new mint condition books. There’s nothing better than finding a cheap and decrepit used book for 1/3rd the price online. BigWords, CheapestTextbooks and Booksprice are all decent sites to start searching.

3. Book Rentals – Farther down the cheap books ladder you will find that book rentals are the latest distribution method that costs almost a third as much as new editions. Just be sure you keep the book in the condition you got it, or you’ll be paying the full marked-up purchase price for a book you’d rather burn than keep on your shelf. BookRenter and Chegg are good sources here.

4. Open Source Textbooks – Similar to the eTextbook, there are some websites out there that will allow you to legally download the full text online. Your first course of action from now on should be to check Project Gutenberg before buying any paperback book, classic novel, or other pseudo-textbook reading material.

5. Sparknotes – Do you even need to read those books at all? Try Sparknotes and Schoolbytes for simple and accurate plot summaries. Works best for multiple choice tests and essay questions where you don’t need to use direct quotes from the story.

Go forth and prosper, you brilliant scholars of tomorrow!

Got any other helpful tips? Shout it out loud in the comments section.

Smart Money: 4 Ways To Save On College Textbooks, August 4, 2008