As a college student, you are always days or weeks away from dishing out hundreds of dollars for books you’ll sell back for mere nickels and dimes. It’s evil, really. If you haven’t lost your faith in humanity before coming to college, you will surely lose it during textbook season.
Well, I’m here to offer hope. Here are five ways to save on textbooks.
1.) Don’t buy them
Aside from the unethical practices of stealing or photocopying, there are a few ways to avoid the purchase of textbooks while still pulling off the grade.
The first way is sharing. Find another student who has already purchased the book and occasionally borrow that copy, or share the price of the book with him or her. This is risky, though, especially if you’re borrowing from a significant other and decide to call it quits mid-semester.
“It can work if you trust the other person not to run away with your textbook and can reach him or her when you need to study,” says Grigory Lukin, author of “Go to college without going broke.”
An even more risky way to avoid buying textbooks is to depend on online resources. Lukin says this can work in certain circumstances but is not a good substitute for a textbook.
“SparkNotes are like candy bars: you can survive on a candy bar diet, but it’s not a good long-term strategy,” Lukin says.
Lastly, and by far the least risky of the options, is to rent. You can rent digital textbooks on Amazon or physical textbooks at a library. Your due date may be before the class ends, though, but who’s to stop you from renting it again?
2.) Buy old and used editions
Most of the time, the newest edition of a textbook doesn’t have anything terribly essential in it. Maybe a few extra pages of commentary or a new design. So why pay the extra money?
“Email your professor before you buy an older edition and make sure he or she is fine with that,” Lukin says. “You can save hundreds of dollars by buying older textbooks.”
And of course, buying used is always cheaper than buying new. Don’t just check your school’s bookstore for used books, but browse the web for deals as well. Seek out someone who has the same major as you but is further along in his studies. You can offer to take those used books off of his hands for the same amount of cash he’d get selling them back to the bookstore, but without the hassle of waiting in line.
“Used textbooks are a lot cheaper, and they usually contain useful highlighting, notes and underlining,” Lukin says. “In other words, you’re getting more content for less money.”
3.) Go digital
As of now, buying digital is usually a little cheaper but not always. It really depends on the book and the device you’re using. It’s not usually cheaper than buying used, though. Most schools are allowing or using digital textbooks now, so why not check just in case?
Keep in mind, though, that you’re kind of stuck with a digital book. This is partially while Lukin doesn’t prefer this option.
“In my opinion, digital textbooks are the worst thing that’s ever happened to college students,” Lukin says. “You can’t buy them used and you can’t resell them at the end of the semester.”
But, depending on how often you use your Kindle or iPad, it can be better for the environment. If that concerns you, this is one of the greenest ways to absorb class materials.
4.) Download your little heart out
There’s a lovely online resource called Project Gutenberg, which offers over 38,000 free e-books. if your textbook isn’t among the vast list, there are plenty of other websites where you can find it. Make sure they’re legal, though (if that’s of concern to you).
Why pay for something that’s free and one click away? You’re a college student. You’re probably already scrapping for money to eat a burrito that you hope will sustain you until your next tiny paycheck arrives. Downloading for free can score you more burrito money.
5.) Make the right friends
If you start an unconditional friendship with someone in the textbook industry or at your school bookstore, you may be able to save money on textbooks. Can you say “friends and family discount?” Also, ask your business major friends if they still have that textbook you now need for your management course or whatever the class may be. You may be able to score a freebie.
While the masses continue to flood the campus bookstore at the beginning of every semester to pay way too much money for books, buck the trend and save some money in the process.
Jon Fortenbury is a Reno-based freelance writer. He’s written for many publications, including Las Vegas Review Journal, Nevada Magazine, and Reno News & Review. His interests include education, religious debates, and lemon cookie ice cream.
Powered by Facebook Comments