Buying textbooks can become very expensive! Luckily, there are some easy tips you can implement to save some money!
Check that you need the textbook
The very first thing you need to do before considering the cheapest way to buy your textbooks is to check that you’ll need them. I’ve found that checking the syllabus and reading list or guide for the semester the most effective way to see how often I’ll use a book to be the most effective but that’s only an option if you can get your hands on the syllabus.
Another easy way to check if you’ll need a book is to ask students who have already done the subject. Personally, my school has a student-run Facebook group that’s used primarily to discuss student issues and you’ll often find questions about classes and the use of textbooks.
And if you’re desperate to get in early and buy your books but none of those work for you, email you professor/lecturer and ask them. Most of the time you’ll find they’ll tell you if it’s best to buy the book or borrow a copy from the library.
Textbooks are always cheaper online than they are from your school’s bookstore. It’s basic knowledge to avoid your school’s bookstore if you’re attempting to get a bargain. Obviously, this won’t work for everyone, especially if you’re taking a class that requires a book that your professor has written themselves and is only available at your school bookstore (so annoying!) but if you can, buy your textbooks online.
My absolute favourite place to buy textbooks (and novels, for that matter!) is The Book Depository! They have an amazing selection of books, their customer service is amazing and their prices are always much better than my school’s bookstore.
Other sites to buy books online include:
Always try using second-hand books.
Okay, so for a while there (I’m talking the entirety of my first year at university!) I was a bit of a book snob and refused to buy second hand. Oh my goodness, did I waste so much money! But I have seen the error of my ways, and this semester, all the books I’ve had to buy, I’ve bought second-hand.
Obviously, there are heaps of benefits to this, notably, saving money but there are also a few pitfalls. My first tip for buying second hand is if your school bookstore sells secondhand books, get in early. The cheapest books always go fast, so by waiting you’ll miss out and probably end up buying it brand new to save any more inconveniences. Another tip is to check out sites that sell secondhand books. If you’re an Australian like me, an amazing site to use is StudentVIP. You can search for the subjects you’re taking, find the textbook you need for that subject and then it’ll list out all the available options for you! Another place to look would be through your Student Union. The Student Union at my school has their own secondhand bookstore that’s often much cheaper than the second-hand books at the bookstore.
Okay, this one can be tricky but if you’re super strapped for cash and you really can’t figure out any other way, try and get your hands on an earlier edition. They’re always so much cheaper than current editions but you’ll need to make sure that you’re not going to miss out on any important material that’s only in the current edition!
E-books and online copies
I’m old-school when it comes to books. I much prefer to have a hard copy of a book over an electronic copy but sometimes it’s better to go electro. Not only is it much cheaper but often the online copies of books include extra videos, quiz questions and study guides that the hard copy either doesn’t come with or you’ll forget to use!
Here’s my number one tip for using the school library. Get in early. There’s always a big demand for required textbooks in the library, so if your school library has a copy of the book you need available, snatch it up while you can!
Also, if you feel like there are not enough copies available, let your library staff and your lecturer/professor know. They’ll then make sure there’s a short-term loan copy (4 hour/3 day/7 day) available for you.
I’ve personally never rented a textbook before, only because I haven’t really had the chance but I do know this is a fairly popular choice for students in the US. The only reputable place I can find in Australia for renting books is the Coop Bookstore, so give that a try if you can’t find something better!
Share with a friend.
This is another option I’ve never tried but I know a few people who share textbooks to save some money. If you’re taking the same class as a friend, split the cost of the book, schedule in some study time (together or separate!) and once the semester is over, you can either buy the book out from your friend or sell it off and you’ll both earn some extra money!
How do you save money when buying your textbooks? Share in the comments below, I’d love to hear your thoughts!