It is the first day of your freshman year of college. As you sit through one class introduction after another, your mind begins making a mental list of all the textbooks that will be required this semester. For each class you may need only one or two books. However, some professors love to have a variety of reading material, requiring each student to purchase five or even more textbooks. With most textbooks costing anywhere from $20 for a thin paper-back English novel to $180 for the hard-back biology manual, you had better save all your tips from bussing tables all summer.
Most students choose to wait until after the first few days of class to learn exactly what textbooks will be required. Although the professor may have sent them a syllabi with the required textbooks listed, some students hold out, hoping for a professor to change his/her mind. The students that choose to wait until the first week of classes will be the ones who end up having the largest bill at the bookstore.
However, there are six fool-proof tips for getting the best deal on your textbooks.
1. Purchase Early
By early, I mean about 3-4 weeks before classes begin. Most teachers have already posted the required readings onto the college’s bookstore web-site, Blackboard, or the good ones have even sent e-mails to their students. If not, it never hurts to shoot the professor an e-mail and find out the required textbooks. It only takes a minute for the professor to reply and you are well onto your way of saving money.
2. Visit the College’s Bookstore Website
Make a list of all the prices that each new textbook is going for. If they have any used copies available (which is often a big IF), note that price too.
3. Search Amazon, eBay & Half.com
By having the list of required textbooks several weeks in advance, the student can begin the online search for the cheapest price. Sites such as Amazon, E-bay, and Half often have used copies of the textbooks for at least 50% off of the bookstore price. Be sure to incorporate shipping costs into the final price. We’ve got a cool price comparison tool below which will automatically do the comparison shopping for you.
4. Compare the online prices with the campus bookstore
If they are significantly lower, purchase your textbooks online. Remember, you can shop around and purchase from several different sites to get the best prices. Be sure to read any special notes the seller may have concerning the condition of the used textbook. Most are barely used, with only a few markings, highlighting, or tears. Sometimes the previous user’s highlighting comes in handy for note taking.
5. If you are considering purchasing online, purchase early.
Other prepared students are also researching the same books you are. Also, by purchasing several weeks before class, you are ensuring that the book will arrive in time for the semester start. You will even look more prepared if you arrive to your first class with your textbook in hand.
6. If your bookstore is actually cheaper on some textbooks, purchase them there.
However, this is something that should also be done early. Sometimes the bookstore will have used copies. Your chances of getting one at probably 50% lower than a new textbook is a lot higher if you purchase early. Many people make the mistake of hitting up the bookstore the first week of classes. It is usually overcrowded, confusing, and disorganized. Many college bookstores have the option to visit their web-site, create your list, purchase the books, and have a store employee prepare the order for you. You simply go to a designated area, show proof of identification, and get a box of textbooks without wasting time looking at bookshelf after bookshelf.
So if you want to arrive to your first college class (on time) and impress the professor with the required textbooks in hand, do your research and purchase early. It just doesn’t pay to hold off. The word required means REQUIRED. You are going to need it whether you purchase a month in advance or wait until the first week and pay perhaps double the cost.
Try Our BookWatch Price Comparison Tool
Try the College Connecting BookWatch tool to compare prices from Amazon.com, Barnes & Nobles, Half.com and Textbooks.com. Find the best deals on new, used or rental textbooks. Give our BookWatch tool a spin and see what you think!
Textbook Prices by CampusBooks.com