Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Secrets of Buying Textbooks in College

{whoever's tumblr this is actually has college life down decently well}
 May I just preface this by saying that buying textbooks for college is probably the worst part of the entire four years?

Okay, maybe that's a tad exaggerated.

Still, the prices of these itsy, bitsy books are so exorbitant, it's ridiculous!

So here's my possibly helpful hints on how to get those books without paying that price.

{No, that wasn't a veiled hint to steal the things; who do you think I am?}


1. Amazon. No, they are not paying me for this, but yes, this usually is my first stop when I go textbook hunting. If it's reasonably priced online, I'll probably buy it just so that it saves me the trouble of doing the following...

2. Ask friends. If you've got a decently common major or you're taking a GE course, asking around first will most likely save you the trouble of having to buy the books online where there's shipping and handling and sales tax and a long wait. Chances are high that someone you know has taken Sociology 1 and has a textbook they dearly wish to be rid of.

Me, for example.

I've also got the books for Earth & Space Science 9, Physics 10, Psych 10, Spanish 1-3 {it's one book}, Philosophy 8, Life Science 15, and History 4, if you need them.

No, sadly, I am not kidding.

On the upside, I've saved hundreds of dollars simply by asking friends if I could borrow their book for such-and-such class. And because they know I'll take care of it and I'll return it {that's kind of a major part of this whole thing}, they're willing to lend the book out.

So try this. Unless you're a freshman. Because then all your friends don't have the books either.

3. For course readers and for certain super expensive textbooks, it's easier and better to just use the school library. I learned how to utilize this to its fullest this past year because I couldn't see myself paying $80 for a course reader that was about 20 pages. I mean, seriously? No.

Just go onto your school's library webpage, find the 'Course Reserves' button, and click that. Tell the search thing what class you're in and it'll give you a list of books that you may be looking for. Choose your book, then look towards the bottom of the page. It should have a call number that you need to write down, so that you can have it with you when you go up to the Circulation Desk and ask for it.

You can check out the book for two hours at a time and you'd be surprised how productive you can be when you know you can't take the book home with you. Winter quarter, I got my Physics homework done in about an hour when it probably would have taken me forever back in the dorms. It's harder to get distracted in Powell Library when you aren't surrounded by your stuff and you don't have a computer.

This 'Two-Hour Reserves' service is mainly for those who can't afford to buy the textbook full price, but if the book's available and you don't mind doing your reading and homework in a hard wooden chair for two hours, it can work for you, too.


That wasn't a lot of tips, but it has taken me awhile to figure all that out, so I thought I'd share and save you the time and wasted money.

Here are some other things I've learned along the way.

1. Never, ever, ever buy the book from the university textbook store, unless absolutely, absolutely necessary. They're very expensive and usually, you don't need all the extra stuff they stick in there to boost the price {pamphlets, CDs, dictionaries, whatever}. Try to find it elsewhere before resorting to this.

2. I just tried Bookrenter this past week and while I may try it again in the future, I was very disappointed in the fact that if you buy something that's a "Bookrenter Basement" book {a little bit more used, a whole lot cheaper}, they charge you massive shipping and handling fees. So much so that an order for Bookrenter Basement books comes out to about the same price as an order of Bookrenter's new books {no s&h for those}. And what's the point of that? I ended up going with Amazon for my books this quarter.

So there's my take on college textbooks. I'll probably be posting a bit more about back-to-school stuff since it's getting nearer and nearer...


Not. Ready.

1 comment:

  1. Try looking up your textbooks on Google Books, too. It's very rare, but some textbooks are available to read (in their entirety!) on Google Books, while some only have previews. This way you can avoid buying textbooks or avoid working at the library, especially if all you need are problem sets for an assignment. The reading format is hard on the eyes, though.