Students: Save Money On Textbooks

Just because you're getting scholarships out the wazoo doesn't mean you should waste them at the on-campus bookstore. Save money on your books.

You might have fifteen billion dollars in financial aid waiting for you. You may be lucky to have two pennies sitting atop your desk. Either way, you can still save money on college textbooks - without too much hassle, wasted time, or effort.

First, realize that THE ON-CAMPUS BOOKSTORE IS NOT YOUR FRIEND. Sure, it's right up the street. Sure, you can get all sorts of great stuff with your school's logo splashed all over it. The prices, however, aren't worth paying unless it's absolutely necessary.

For example: some of your professors might have published a book or accompaniment-type booklet for your course. In these cases, you'll probably have to purchase it at the bookstore.

If, on the other hand, it's just a plain old textbook, you can get it cheaper elsewhere.

There are several places to look for texts: online, campus newspapers, bulletin boards, and off-campus bookstores. More often than not, these places will have the exact same thing, only cheaper - and if it's ordered online, you can expedite the shipping (to get it there in time for your first assignment) and STILL save money.

First, you need to find out EXACTLY what your professors intend to use for the upcoming semester. You usually get a syllabus the first day of classes, which includes information on the book. Once you've attended all your classes for the first time, and therefore have all the syllabi, you can go book-shopping.

In fact: DO NOT GO SHOPPING FOR A CLASS UNTIL YOU GET YOUR SYLLABUS OR OTHERWISE FIND OUT WHETHER THE PROFESSOR IS EVEN USING A BOOK OR NOT. If he or she doesn't even bother with a text, you can opt not to purchase it and save twenty, fifty, or even one hundred or more dollars.

Now you need to comparison shop to find the best price. Search the Web for online bookstores. There are several well-known, big-name sites that guarantee your satisfaction, and go out of their way to ship your order quickly.

The online option, however, works best if you're selling versus buying. This is because there really aren't any time constraints on selling: buying, however, means that you have to have it VERY SOON. It's often easier to just go into an off-campus bookstore or make a direct deal with the current owner.

Your campus newspaper (perhaps the online version, or maybe the print version) usually has a "Textbooks for Sale" section. Scour this for the best prices on books. As a buyer, you're eliminating the middle-man (bookstore). And as the seller, the other person is getting more money than he or she would have made if the middle-man had been involved. It works out best for both parties this way.

If you can't find your books that way, look on bulletin boards around the campus. There are usually a few fliers posted by students trying to unload perfectly good books.

If all else fails, there's nothing wrong with visiting the off-campus bookstores. They usually have pretty good prices, not to mention a fairly large selection. Check to see if they offer special sale days (such as the few days before classes start) so that you can save even more money.


Find a buddy who's taking the same classes and split the cost of books down the middle. This works especially well if you're both taking the same English class at the same time, but it also works out if you're both taking the same math class on different days of the week.

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