A lesson for textbook buyers

This is only my first semester, but I already had to buy seven books. I found a great way to save some money and still end up with all the books needed.

Which edition?
First step is to ask your professor, when they’re going over the syllabus is the best time, if the newest edition is necessary. Most professors, my mom included, don’t necessarily need or want you to have the newest, most expensive edition unless whatever changed is exactly what is needed for the class. Usually the new edition has a few grammatical fixes and a fancy new cover and that’s all.

Bookstore prices
Go to the official campus bookstore and go to the unofficial bookstore(s). My school is smaller, but still has both of these. My mom teaches at a larger university with 30,000 students and they have three off-campus bookstores. Go to each and check the prices on the books you need, make a nice comparison chart that will save your life.

Online prices
Now, go home and check Amazon, Ebay, Half.com, and do a Google search. Add these prices to your chart. Make sure you have the correct edition! I can’t stress that enough. Also, find out what shipping costs and when you will get the books. Find out if the company/person doesn’t ship for up to one week or whatever else their policy is. Find out the return policy, just in case.

Now that you have your nice chart comparing prices/shipping charges, do a little math see which deal is best. Do you actually need these books tomorrow or can you wait until Monday? If you need them now, see about applying for a free trial with Amazon Prime (I got one) or see if your aunt has an account. If it’s cheaper or necessary to get them in the bookstore, go for it. If it’s a better deal to get them online, do that.

This way you get the best deal you can no matter what. All it takes is a little work. It took me an hour total to track down seven books and start the process. Not so bad to save nearly $200. Five books were much cheaper online, one was about $20 less in the bookstore. One book I had to get at the store because it’s one of those ridiculous “customized textbooks” just for my school. What a scam.