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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The students have moved in, the classes are chosen and now it's time to find the cheapest way to pay for the textbooks that are going to be needed.

You've probably heard the cost of tuition has gone up, well, it wasn't very difficult to find a new book priced at more than $200. That said, school bookstores offer all sorts of cheaper alternatives.

"We have a large assortment of rentable books," explained Debbie Morrison. "And one of our promotions is to rent fearlessly."

Morrison is the store manager at Highlander, The Shop at Macalester, where you can rent a book at half the cost of something new. It's termed "rent fearlessly," because you can write in it, highlight in it, and essentially use it as if you own it, as long as you return it at the end of the semester.

The University of Minnesota has a similar push, if you rent, you can save.

The U of M also has electronic books available at a cheaper rate, but still $77 for an e-book, is asking quite a lot.

If only college textbooks could be free.

"We've been trying to get faculty to understand that open textbooks exist, and they're out there and they can be freely distributed and they're quality textbooks just like the text books they already use," explained Dr. Dave Ernst, U of M College of Education and Human Development.

Part of Ernst's work at the U of Ms to help faculty find books that are free and what's termed, "open" as in open license that contains a relatively open copyright.

Ernst helped create a website that serves as a sort of go to for professors and students.
It's a catalog of about 140 books.

"And these textbooks tend to be high enrollment courses, where the impact would be huge, introductory courses that freshman take that thousands of students here at the university take," explained Ernst.

Additionally, 100 more textbooks will soon be added to the list thanks to California and Canada's British Columbia. Both areas recently passed types of legislation which will create more open textbooks, which will eventually mean more savings for students everywhere.

That is, as long as college professors are aware of the open books as options.

"It's a little bit different and change is hard, and we're just trying to find solutions to those barriers and help faculty overcome them," said Ernst.

For a list of the open books click here.

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