As if college tuition isn’t high enough, those “evil” professors make you buy textbooks. These textbooks usually cost a hundred bucks or more, so for full-time students who are talking 5 classes, books cost more than $500.
The most effective way to save money on textbooks, according to my ex-classmates, was not buying them at all. Amazingly, they somehow passed the classes and got more than D’s for them. Since I have always been a nerd, I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t want to pay several hundred bucks for books either, so I found other ways to save.
There are literally thousands of stores who sell used textbooks online. Used or new, they sell books for much cheaper than what you would pay for them at your college book store. Before buying a book for class, I was doing tons of research to make sure I was getting the best deal. I was probably spending more time searching for deals than it was worth, but I couldn’t help myself. Getting the best deal is my serious addiction.
For four years that I’ve been buying and searching books, the best deals were always found on Amazon and Half.eBay.com. If you don’t have accounts with either of these, I strongly recommend you get them, because this will allow you not only to buy books from students who are desperate to get them out of their hands. This will also allow you to sell your books to not any less desperate students who want to save more money for beer.
Selling and buying textbooks on Amazon and Half.eBay.com is very easy. You don’t need to upload your book’s picture, or even write its title. When you enter your book’s ISBN, Amazon or Half.ebay.com will do it for you!
My other tip to save money on textbooks is to buy previous editions. Book publishers are giving birth to new textbook editions every year. They would take a paragraph or two out of a chapter, change one picture, split another chapter in two and voila – new edition is ready. I never understood why colleges go along with book publishers and make students buy newer editions of textbooks. Neither of them is certainly thinking about saving forests or students’ money.
As soon as the new edition of the textbook pops up, prices for previous editions drop dramatically. For example, for my Sociology class I bought the 9th edition of a book on Amazon for $2.89 (yes, two bucks!!!); the 10th used edition was around $80 and the brand new 10th was $135. See the difference?
If in doubt, you can always contact the professor prior to class and ask him or her if it is OK if you use a previous edition of the book. Most professors are very understanding and they will know if the editions differ greatly. If not, they will probably just tell you to go ahead and buy the previous one. It is better to buy something than not to buy anything at all.
This advice may not work for technical subjects like Chemistry or Statistics where specific examples and assignments are used on different pages, so switching editions may be a pain. Use your judgment and talk to your professor.
If you live in a dorm and there are people you know who are taking the same class, you can always buy one book and share it. From my observations on how much students study (or rather don’t study), you wouldn’t fight for the book too much. Unless, of course, it is the night before the mid-term.
Many students in my college (those who bought books) sold or lent them to other students on campus. We had a board with advertisements about buying/selling and exchanging textbooks.
Imagine how much you could save on textbooks if you bought a previous edition, shared it with your room-mate and then resold it.
I hope these tips, or at least some of them, will work for you. My heart breaks every time I see someone paying full-price.
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