Buying Bargain Textbooks

Textbook Bargains – Saving Money on Your Books

Buying textbooks and other reading materials for classes can be a costly venture.  There are, however, a number of ways to save some money.

Buy Used Textbooks

Your school bookstore will usually sell several used copies of books required for your course, especially if they are popular books used in different classes.  The problem with buying used textbooks is they are often marked up by previous students.

Try to get to the bookstore early in the semester so you can rummage through the pile of books and choose one that is relatively clean.  Should you purchase a book that has notes or highlighted sections, try to ignore them as you read.  Just because some other student felt the sections were relevant doesn’t mean they will be to you.

Check Used Bookstores

If your school bookstore doesn’t have any used copies of books you need, try checking local bookstores that specialize in used books.  These shops occasionally carry used textbooks, but you are more likely to find other sources, such as novels, plays and biographies.

Again, go in early in the semester, as other students might have the same idea.

Borrowing Books From Friends

Many people take the same or similar courses.  Ask around to see if anyone owns the books you need and then try to borrow or even purchase the books from them.  There is a chance, though, that your friend has an older edition of the book; just be aware of this as you read it.

If possible, consult a current edition and note any changes.  You can skim the current edition in a bookstore or ask someone in your class if you can borrow theirs.

Sharing Books

Some students who are friends and enrolled in the same class consider chipping in for the books and sharing them.  This does save money but is not recommended, since sharing can cause more problems than it’s worth.

Because you both need access to the books, each person has less time available to read and study them.  This is particularly a problem before major exams, when you both will want to consult the book for an extended period of time.

However, if you are really trying to save money, this is an option – you’ll just need to organize a tight schedule that will allow you enough access to the books.

The Library

The school library will probably carry many of the sources that your teacher requires for you class.  If you can use a library book, you will obviously save a great deal of money.  However, there are certain drawbacks to depending on library books.

You may need a certain book throughout the semester, but you will only be able to take it out of the library for a few weeks.

Moreover, other students, even those who are not in your class, will also want those books and because the library will have a limited number of copies, there’s no guarantee you’ll get the books when you need them.  If a required book for your class is going to be used repeatedly, then you should probably not rely on using the library copy.

However, if it is a book that will only be used for a week or two (such as a novel you are reading for an English class), then you might consider trying to get the book out from the library.

If the book is located in the reference section of the library, as many textbooks are, you don’t have to worry about finding it because they can’t be taken out.  You just need to be willing to sit with the book in the library and take notes.

Many professors also put the books required for their courses on reserve in the library, which means the books cannot leave the library and students are given a limited amount of time to read them.  If books are on reserve, you know you’ll be able to get hold of them at some point, if they are not, try suggesting that to the professor that she place them there for everyone.

Selling Back Books

At most school bookstores, you can sell your books back at the end of the semester an receive a partial refund.  Keep in mind, however, that the cleaner your copy is, the more money you will get back.  If the book is heavily marked up, the bookstore may refuse to buy it back at all.

If you are planning to sell your books, avoid using highlighters or taking notes in the book.  That shouldn’t be a problem, if you follow a note-taking strategy that does not require highlighting or writing in the book.  If for some reason you do want to write in the book, do it lightly and in pencil so it can be erased.

Textbook Bargains – Saving Money on Your Books




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