To all my freshman babies who are panicking right now about how much your college textbooks cost: Yeah, you’re right, that’s some highway robbery. No, you don’t have to lie down and take it. You have options. Follow my advice and fly on your own debt free wings.
1. Forgoe the bookstore entirely. Sometimes you can get a good deal on something, usually a rental, but it’s usually going to be considerably more expensive to go through official channels. Outsmart them, babies.
2. Does your syllabus call for edition eight? Get edition seven. Old editions are considered worthless in the buyback trades, so they sell for dirt cheap, no matter how new they are. It’s a gamble, sure; there might be something in edition eight you desperately need, but that never happened to me. However, I’ve only ever pulled this stunt for literature/mass comm/religious studies books, so I don’t know it would work in the sciences.
3. Thriftbooks.com, especially for nonfiction and fiction. Books are usually four or five dollars unless they’re really new, and shipping is 99 cents unless you buy over 10$ in books, in which case shipping is free.
4. Bigwords.com. It will scan every textbook seller on the internet for the lowest price available, and will do the same to find the highest price when you try to sell your books back at the end of term. Timesaver, lifesaver.
5. In all probability, your library offers a service called interlibrary loan which is included in your tuition. This means if your library doesn’t carry a book you can order it for free from any library nationwide in your library’s network and it will be shipped to you in a number of days. Ask a librarian to show you how to search for materials at your library as well as though interlibrary loan; you’ll need to master this skill soon anyway. If you get lucky you can just have your required reading shipped to you a week before you need to start reading, then renew vigorously until you no longer need to item. I’m saving over 100$ on a History of Islam class this way.
You professors might side-eye you for bringing an old edition or a library copy, but you just smile right back honey, because you can pay your rent and go clubbing this month. You came here to win. So go forth and slay.
Can I add to this?
6. Find PDFs of your book to store on your computer. I managed to find an up-to-date edition of my textbook for sociology by doing this, and other books for other classes. It may be risky to have to look high and low for them, but it’s a godsend trust me
don’t even think about pulling number 1 for math classes. they change problems and examples between editions.
get your butt to Amazon the SECOND you know what book you need. the earlier the better. put in the ISBN number and you’ll get the right edition. buy it used. you don’t need that damn CD. buy it used. I used to get two hundred dollar math books for twenty bucks.
for the record I would recommend a lot of caution with math/science/psych books, the editions generally have a lot of changes to them (also email your professors; I had one explicitly tell us to buy an older edition bc the publisher made a new one every year regardless of if there were any changes. and they understand books cost a lot so they’re generally on board with you saving money; another professor actually had a student who managed to get a free pdf of the textbook share it with the whole class)
one time i tried to get a previous edition for a humanities class and there were like 10+ stories that weren’t included that the teacher referenced often so make sure that there’s not a huge discrepancy in content
also if your uni uses ~custom textbooks~ like mine does for entry level courses then you my friend are fucked