One of the biggest complaints I hear every semester is the rising cost of textbooks. Not only are they ridiculously overpriced, but the buyback rate is a pittance in comparison to what you originally paid. Multiply that by four or five classes and you are looking at a serious depletion to your bank account. What’s a girl to do? Follow these five steps to save big on your books.
The first step to successful saving is to research your query BEFORE the buying frenzy of the fall or winter semesters begin. Universities usually give you the teachers name and email address the moment you register for the class or as soon as it becomes available. Take that opportunity to drop them a line, asking which books will be required for the class and what the ISBN numbers are. Newer editions of textbooks come out every couple of years so ask your teacher if an older edition is acceptable. If it is, you can usually get these at a much cheaper rate since older editions have no buyback value. than the newer ones since older editions have a buyback value of almost nothing.
Textbooks are one of two things; an investment purchase or an impulse buy, and you should consider what yours are going to be for you personally before you buy. If the textbooks are for your major field of study they count as an investment purchase and you should consider buying these new. Assuming that you don’t switch majors tomorrow, they are going to be with you for the remainder of your career, and as such you are going to want them to last much longer. If the textbook is for a single gen ed. course, they count as an impulse buy. Since you aren’t going to need it past the end of that semester, and should get this used. Keep in mind that the more worn in the book is (i.e. highlighting, worn edges, etc.) the cheaper it is for you. Do pencil marks in a book you are never going to use past the final exam really matter anyway?
One thing I absolutely hate is when I buy a textbook for a class and it sits on my shelf the entire semester. It gives me that feeling that I have been duped, since I bought a book (usually over 100.00) and I didn’t need to. This is where making friends comes in. A lot of websites like rate myprofessor.com allow students to comment on their personal classroom experience. While this may seem like a teacher bash fest for jaded students, it can actually be useful since some students will say whether the book was necessary for the class or not, saving you time and money.
With any big money purchase, like an iPod or a car, you should always shop around. Why should textbooks be any different? While textbooks will NEVER go on sale that doesn’t mean you cant get them at a sale price. Visit your campus bookstore and price both new and used copies of your textbooks. Then take those prices and compare them on websites likes Half.com, or Amazon. A lot of times you can find those same books much cheaper than you would at a campus bookstore. I once bought a brand new copy of a political philosophy textbook and even with the shipping and handling costs it was 50 dollars cheaper than the used copy on my campuses bookstore.
Are all your books above your budget this year? Consider renting them from websites like Chegg.com in lieu of buying. Put your face book page to good use and join or make a book trade group for your university. Invite all the people in your Mafia War to join. This allows you to connect with other students on the local level and consider trading that Nutritional Health book you used last semester, for that Art History book you need this semester. Are you and a friend taking the same class? Split the cost of the book and arrange specific times where you can both have access to it. You get the book for cheap AND a default study buddy! Get at job AT your campus bookstore! Most universities hire students to handle the rush in the fall and winter semesters, and although the employee discount might not be much, it is still better than paying full price.
No matter what classes you are taking this semester, or whether you need one book or twenty, follow these five fool proof tips, and you are sure to get the most book for your buck. Do you have any other tips to share on getting your textbooks on the cheap? Please share!
Top Photo Credit: laurenlemon
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