The first few days of a new semester in college is a whirlwind of syllabuses, new faces, and expectations. In almost all of those new classes, a textbook is required. Textbooks can pile up on the to-do list at the beginning of the semester, and so some students end up getting them last minute at very expensive prices.
However, if you take time to look at your options, buying textbooks can be much more affordable. So, here are some tips and tricks to buying college textbooks:
Check the Syllabus
First off, you need to check the class syllabus for whatever textbook you are buying. Often times professors put vital information about the textbook, such as the proper edition to purchase, where specifically to buy the book, what supplemental materials you'll need to go along with the book, etc. Some professors even refer you to cheaper options themselves.
Whatever the case, you always need to check the syllabus before you buy. The last thing you want to do is walk into class with the incorrect textbook.
Learn About the Class
In some courses, the textbook is rarely used in class. In others, it is used every day. Before purchasing, try to find out how often you will use the book from people who have taken the course before. If it is used frequently, then go ahead and buy your own copy. If the book is rarely used, but still needed, then consider sharing with another person in your class. Some people even buy textbooks together, and share throughout the semester.
Once you have found a textbook, whether online or in the store, don't buy it immediately. Search for alternatives and determine which is the cheapest option. Be careful when choosing the cheaper option online, though. Make sure the textbook will be shipped to you within a week, or else you might fall behind in classwork while you wait for your book to arrive. Here are some websites that I have personally used (and found to be reliable):
Chegg is an online book rental site that is student friendly. They ship fast and they are many times the cheapest option. When the semester ends, you simply send the book back to Chegg (they give you instructions on how to ship it). On top of all that, Chegg also sends little snacks with the textbooks. So, bonus I guess?
If you have Amazon Prime, many times they will have the textbook you're looking for. Amazon ships really fast, and does free shipping on most orders. However, they do not always have the right edition, and sometimes their books are most expensive option.
Every university has a bookstore, but sometimes their books can be expensive. From my expereince, prices depend on the book and subject material. At the Mississippi College Bookstore, I was able to rent all of my English textbooks for very little. Some don't have as much luck in other areas of study. You should definitely check the bookstore first, and then compare them to online options.
Rent, If You Can
As I said, I rented the majority of my textbooks from the MC Bookstore. It's cheaper than buying, and you can always purchase the textbooks at the end of the semester if you end up wanting to keep them. Sometimes there is no rent option, so take advantage of it whenever you can.
Some people prefer not to rent simply because they don't like used books that might already have notes or writing in them. That's totally fine, but expect to pay a little extra for the new textbooks.
eTextbooks are not for everyone, but they are useful for those who can use them. For one, there is no physical copy to lose, and no missing the due date for returns. The eTextbook will simply expire after a certain date. You only need to make sure that the date is after your class ends.
Some courses use online components in addition to class, such as reading quizzes. For this reason, eTextbooks can be helpful to use alongside the online components.
Buying textbooks seems overwhelming at first. But if you follow some of these tips, finding the right book can be simple, as well as easier on your wallet.
Evan, Thanks for the Ramen noodles, Chegg