Textbooks are one of the biggest out-of-pocket expenses for some students. Even if your housing and meals have been taken care of, you will still need to find the money to pay for textbooks, and they aren’t cheap. Students can spend upwards of $1,000 on textbooks and supplies per year, and this figure can go even higher for students in some majors. Here are a few tips for reducing the cost of your textbooks:
— Make sure you really need them!
Before buying any books, you might want to go to the class and make sure you’ll be keeping it. Also look at the syllabus and determine when you’ll need the text or exactly what use it will be put to. Some professors require more books than you’ll ever actually get to, so waiting it out to see if you get to the final books on the syllabus might be a good idea. This can be risky because you might not be able to find a book you need later in the semester.
— See if you can copy the information
If you’ll only be working out of the book for a few assignments, see if you can borrow a friend’s book or get it from the library and make copies. This won’t work for every textbook, but it will help reduce the amount you have to spend buying books just to read a few chapters.
— See if the book is available online
This won’t work for most textbooks, but you can use it for literature classes or other classes that rely on works in the popular domain. If your professor wants you to buy a specific edition for its foreword or notes, make copies of that material and read the rest of the book online.
— Buy used whenever possible!
Just choosing used books at the book store instead of new books will save you a fair amount of money. Even better, look for used books at nearby used book stores or online. Don’t forget to sell your books back at the end of the semester to make back some of your money.
All of these tips can help reduce the overall cost of textbooks, but they’re not always useful. Some classes rely heavily on the textbook, and you might also need to buy workbooks or other things. Here are a few tips on places to buy textbooks if you can’t avoid buying your books this year:
There is a paid textbook service on Amazon that makes it very attractive to sell them your used textbooks, so lots of students offer textbooks online. Be sure that you’re buying the right version by checking the IBN or confirming with a teacher. Also be aware that the books may take a few days or weeks to ship, so you might be without a textbook for the first few classes.
— Used Bookstores
Used bookstores in college towns tend to get a lot of textbooks, and you can buy them inexpensively there. Even better, you can use store credit from other books you trade in throughout the year to reduce the cost of used books at most bookstores.
Other students often sell their books on Craigslist, especially if they couldn’t get a good price for them at the student bookstore. You have to be careful not to buy an older edition that cannot be used for your class, though, and you may not be able to find what you need.
— Noticeboards at School
The student union building will usually have a noticeboard where people can post various ads. Check to see if anyone is selling textbooks or buying a book that you may have available to sell. You can also ask around among your friends to see if you can borrow or buy textbooks from their last year’s classes.
— Other Online Sites
Amazon isn’t the only site where you can buy cheap textbooks. There are several websites designed for precisely this purpose. Some favorites are Chegg, AbeBooks, Half.com and BigWords. You can also search online for other book sources, but check around to be sure that the site is legitimate. You can easily find reviews of these sites or talk around to other students.
Although textbooks can be very pricey, you can save money on them in several ways. By employing these strategies, you can reduce the cost of your textbook bill. The money you save can be used toward buying other school supplies or to cover other expenses.