Oh how I miss the days of class sets for textbooks. You, your trusty #361 biology textbook and those cute textbook covers you begged your mom to buy at Target were a happy and cheap package. Now you have a list of 3+ textbooks and 7+ books that you are responsible for the semester. But don't worry, I've got your back (textbook covers are optional).
Having fun isn't hard when you have a library card!
Confession time: I haven't checked out a physical book from the library in years. Libraries on major college campuses do have an expansive e-book collection. Your library should be the first place you check if you have classic works and novels. Occasionally there will be a few copies of major textbooks in the stacks as well. One of the greatest advantages of an e-book (besides the price - free) is the space you save in your dorm room. Need a chapter read on the go? Pull it up on your phone or print out the chapter you need!
Do you need to rent or buy?
There are several advantages and disadvantages to each option.
Renting: It can be cheaper but you need to keep it in good condition and turn it in on time. You can't annotate these books and that oil stain from your late night stack will cost you extra.
Buying: This book is all yours. Yours to write in. Yours to use a door stop. And yours to sell. Selling books can be a hassle. If newer editions are published or a professors discontinues the book, you are stuck with it. I still have my biology and organic chem books if anyone is looking...
So how do you choose? I rent as much as possible. As much as I love Texas, I won't reread my Texas Political History book. I did buy my freshmen biology book and I don't regret that choice at all. I referred to that text in upper division biology class and while I prepped for my MCAT.
Ask if older editions are acceptable.
The basic foundations of biology will not change from the 7th to the 8th editions, but there might be a few extra chapters included. Normally my professors have been gracious by including page numbers from a few editions. If you don't see that on the syllabus, just email your professor. If there aren't any major changes, buy the older book to save some money.
Shop around first.
Bargain hunting should be your number one tool for textbook shopping. Your school's bookstore can be a great resource and sometimes they will be the only one that carries a specific textbook, but they are normally the most expensive option. Amazon Prime treats college students well and my favorite place to buy books would be Better World Books! They collect and sell books online to donate books and money to literacy initiatives worldwide! BWB also have free shipping which brings me to ...
Shipping is the enemy.
If you are buying books online and they are not coming from the same seller, watch the price. I have made the mistake of spending way too much for shipping because I wasn't paying attention. Be vigilant!
What is your best money saving tip for textbook shopping?
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