Back to school season is among us, and for those returning to college, there’s always that one aspect we hate dealing with: buying textbooks.
They’re stupid expensive, they’re heavy, and sometimes you don’t even end up using them. I know, purchasing textbooks is the worst. Fear not though, I hope to share some of my favourite resources for getting textbooks for the low – saving your sanity and your wallet.
Clarify If They Are “Required” or “Recommended”
This is a big one in my opinion. Looking back at previous semesters, I can’t begin to tell you how many hundreds of dollars I could have saved not bothering with “recommended” texts. If you have the extra money to spend on them, it won’t hurt you since these are supplements to the course. More often than not, I found myself without time to actually look at these texts because I was ass deep in the required reading. So again, unless you know you will crack these open, I would pass.
Also something I’ve learned over the past few years. Even though professors list some texts as required, for some reason some of them won’t use the textbook. Now, I know they probably expect you to just read it on your own to add onto your knowledge, but if you are tight on money this isn’t cost-efficient. I suggest waiting until syllabus week (if possible) to get your textbooks, or a week or two before heading into school so you have time to return if needed.
Talk to Your Professor
Sometimes, the costs of textbooks can be too much, not matter how much you put away (new editions, needing 1,000,000 for one course, etc…). When this becomes a reality, consider talking to your professor. I was in this position my junior year with one of my courses and was able to borrow an extra copy for the semester. In a weird way, this motivated me to stay on top of my reading. I think this is because someone went out on a limb to help me out, so not reading the book would have been rude.
Aligning more with the previous point, however, talking with your professor can give you a better idea of how actively the textbook will be used during the duration of the semester. If it won’t be used/referenced that often, I would personally pass it up.
Share With a Friend/Classmate
A classmate and I decided to do this for one class I took last semester. While this may be a bit cumbersome depending on the class/schedule, if you can make it work, it’s a great way to keep each party on top of their reading. In an attempt to be courteous of the other person, you end up not procrastinating on your reading. I would only suggest doing this though if you and the other party are in good standing/the other party is responsible. You wouldn’t want to enter into this kind of arrangement with someone who will give your textbook back at 12 AM the day before your class.
Get Creative With Your Searches
This is very important. You can, of course search the usual websites for your books (as I’m sure those of us in this generation are used to), but don’t limit yourself there. For instance, my sophomore year (spring semester to be exact), I was able to find both my entire Calculus and Linguistics textbooks online in PDF form…for the freeeeeeeee. This past year, I was able to find one of my supplemental readings (a book, not an article or anything), in a free PDF form as well. Not necessarily this past year, but my sophomore year finding those easily saved me $300. Get creative with your searches, and don’t be afraid to go to the library (those still exist).
Online PDF’s (Google can really be your best friend)
Your School’s Bookstore
I wish everyone good luck in their pursuit of textbooks! 🙂