Addressing Textbook Pain (1 of 3)
How to address the ever rising costs of textbooks? Getting your textbook purchases wrong can severely punish your bottom line, but how do we get it right in this era of multi-digit prices? Today let’s look at three of the more typical sources of textbook procurement. In the next two posts we will then explore some more creative ways to get it done.
On Campus Bookstore
So you got your syllabus. On it are a list of books your professor wants you to read. The tempting thing to do would be to stroll over to your campus bookstore where you can be assured said textbooks can be found. However, while convenient, I would highly encourage you to not simply grab your book lists and stroll over to the campus bookstore to pay whatever the price tag says.
In fact, if at all possible, I’d recommend avoiding the campus bookstore altogether. Treat it not as your first resort but your last. There, with rare exception, you will find the best chances for finding the books you need but at the highest prices going. Fortunately, this is a feat more and more possible as other avenues become available through the Internet. Let’s explore a few of these options available to you before you put even more money into your college’s coffers.
Off Campus Bookstore
Situated around many of the bigger schools you will also find a number of third party bookstores more attuned to the needs of the student than the school. With such stores in place you can comparison shop their prices versus your school’s rates. The off-campus shop typically costs less because among other things they offer a better selection of older edition and used books. Furthermore, many of the private booksellers will rent you their texts allowing for substantial savings on a book you have no intention of carrying with you beyond the semester.
Shop the Internet
The advent of the internet has significantly revolutionized the book buying process for all readers, not least of which are college students in search of cheaper texts. The big go-to retailers like Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble have huge inventories which often include college textbooks, cheat sheets and other helpful items. The Internet also hosts several specialized textbook dealers such as ecampus.com, Follett and Nebraska Book Company. It’s also worth spending some time on non-specialty sales sites like your campus classifieds and the local Craigslist. Some of these sources have limited supplies so you may need to spring on a bargain when you see it.
If you’ve received a certain reading assignment, you can pretty well bet that other students have, too. Just like you, they have a stack or two of old books from former classes they have no intention of reading anytime soon they might consider letting loose. Getting your books directly from other students certainly has its advantages. For one, the various bookstores around town tend to offer individual book resellers a fraction of what they intend to sell it for. You can usually meet or beat this offer and achieve significant savings over bookstore markups. Secondly, they are fairly likely to rent their books to you at decent rates. Students often want to keep a book for long-term reference but don’t mind letting you use it in the meantime. Lastly, friends will quite often be willing to simply give or loan books out to each other.
Finding other students with the textbooks you need is as easy as searching posts on classifieds sites, asking people in the campus bookstore’s buyback line what they have in their hands, and noting who has taken certain classes ahead of you. Peruse a few bookshelves while visiting other students’ rooms while you’re at it, too, and take note of what you see.
Again, these are fairly typical ways to get your books. Stay tuned for more off-the-beaten-path tips in following weeks.