Students are renting books more often, and purchasing less-expensive digital copies, a national survey shows.

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Good news on the college cost front: According to a national survey, the average amount students are spending on college textbooks and other course materials has gone down in recent years. In fact, it’s been dropping steadily for the last seven years, according to the National Association of College Stores.

Michael Osbun / Op Art
Michael Osbun / Op Art

The reason? Students have more choices than just purchasing a new or used textbook at the campus store; they can also rent them, for example, or purchase a less-expensive digital copy, NACS says. Campus bookstores have also put more effective buying practices in place, and professors are becoming more cost-conscious when assigning textbooks and other readings, the report says.

According to the survey, the average college student spent about $563 on course materials in 2014-15, down considerably from 2007-08, when the figure was $701. The number of books and other materials that students purchased isn’t changing — but the total amount spent is dropping because of the new options.

Although the study was done by a trade organization for college stores, it’s clear from the association’s own data that other companies are moving into what used to be a monopoly for the campus bookstore. The study shows that 66 percent of materials were purchased at the campus store, 42 percent from Amazon and 8 percent from the online textbook retailer Chegg. For rental books, 45 percent came from the campus store, 28 percent from Amazon and 19 percent from Chegg.