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One of the worst "visible" expenses I had to deal with at college was books and supplies. If you're a freshman, you will be knocked directly on your butt at the cost of a semester's worth of "educational materials." If you're an art student, you'll have to sell body parts to get your supplies! :)
The best way to arm yourself against losing money and getting gouged is to know how the "book racket" works.
So, why the discrepancy?
If the publisher comes out with a new edition of the book, your edition becomes worthless. So those $200 chemistry or math books will now be obsolete because the publisher added an extra sentence.
If a professor isn't going to use the book for the next semester, it becomes worthless. Some book buyback people will throw you a dollar or two to take your book (and then they'll turn around and sell it elsewhere for three times as much - or more).
So, what do you do to save cash?
And a note to art students - you will be completely gouged by the student bookstore art supply area. Shop elsewhere. Online, at the dollar store (you'd be surprised what you can find) - be creative. You don't need the $100 paint brush. Buy "hues" in oil paint rather than the actual colors. Learn how to stretch your own canvases. Become a scavenger and use unique materials to create art.
By Andrea from Oakland County, MI
If you're looking for second-hand textbooks, check out second-hand book stores and library book sales (I've found brand new textbooks for as little as fifty cents at these sales). You can ask former students and teachers if they're getting rid of their old books.
If you need a bit of extra cash for books, you could also find out if the college bookstore buys back old books.
By Angela L. from Sault Ste Marie, ON
I retired from teaching, and now write stories for youngsters. As a teacher, I used to go to the school depository where all old books were processed and I can assure you that many books get destroyed that are new as well. Most of these book were overstock or old, but still worthy of use. I home schooled my children and found the school an excellent source.
In one semester in college years ago, the cost for my books was over $200 and half of those books were used. I found the used ones not only to be way less expensive but more helpful as students before me had put notes from teacher lectures in the spaces on the pages saving me tons of time with my own notes. (Make sure the notes are similar to what you would have written.)
Our Psych 1 teacher was head of the Psych department for that school & told us to get our textbook where ever we could. It had to be a legitimate textbook but could be severely outdated or whatever, he didn't care. When asked "what if an old textbook has conflicting information?", he responded, "Great! Bring it up in class & we'll discuss why it was changed." We all loved that man for that!
Tips and ideas for saving money on textbooks. Consider not buying the book until you've been to the first session of the class. Sometimes you find out that the professor plans to use the book very little, or not at all.
I graduated from college not that many years ago, and picked up a few tips during my years at my university! One of the things I wished I had started doing right away was borrowing textbooks from the campus library . . .
When going back to college after years, I discovered the college bookstore is a big rip-off. If you go online, like Amazon, amongst others, you can get brand new editions, sometimes called international versions, (same exact book, just looks different on the outside) for a fraction of the price.
My Son is going to college and we are on a tight budget. We found a site that has used books that are cheap.
I am currently attending college and found that the teachers will usually give reading assignments from just a few chapters of the expensive textbooks; however, they are usually known ahead of time when the teacher hands out the syllabus.
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College is expensive; that's no news to anyone. While many know that scholarships, grants, and community colleges save money, what they may not know are the smaller ways to save money while they're already there. Books can be the costliest expense not covered by financial aid. With some courses totaling $200 in books, the investment for a full course load is overwhelming. How can money be saved?
Many colleges list the required books well in advance of the first days of class. (If they don't, e-mail the professor and ask which books he/she will be using.) Rather than wait in the long line at the bookstore, gather the ISBN numbers (found on the back of books by the barcodeevery book printed has one.) ISBN numbers identify the exact edition of the book so that you can always be sure you purchase the correct version. Start surfing the Internet for cheaper places. Such search guides such as www.textbookhound.com allow you to compare various sellers and their shipping discounts. Amazon.com also offers most texts at reasonable rates (Amazon often offers free or reduced shipping for larger orders.) but what's better is the used rate which is listed there as well. Many books that are listed under new and used are still in the shrinkwrap for almost half price. If on-line shopping isn't making you happy, then order it through your local bookseller who may charge less than the college bookstore. Stores like Barnes & Noble offer cheaper rates and order the book so that you can pick it up at the store and save on shipping.
Professors list required books for the course intending the students to read the books, not purchase them. See if your local library holds any of the books required for class. Bundles can be saved in literature courses this way. The major downfall is that you cannot write in your text, but that's the decision you make in buying or borrowing.
Again, check on-line. An e-book may be available for a book which will be cheaper than purchasing the hardcopy book. Jump on e-mail and ask you friends if they have the book from a previous course and borrow it from them (or buy it at half price and you're both happy.) Do some brainstorming, and e-mailing, and phoning to see if you can save a few dollars.
This method works well for friends who carry the same course load or at least two similar courses. List the books you both need. Then, divvy the list and each of you buys half of it (try to keep the costs even.) You'll need to plan ahead for the readings, but share the books as the semester rolls along. You'll each save half of your book cost, and you'll keep on top of one another to complete the readings on time.
Even though I love to surround myself with books, as a college professor I sympathize with my students' bookstore bills. If they can save a few and still complete their readings, I give them credit for their frugality in an expensive climate.
Find out in advance, if possible, what you need. Then try ebay. (12/28/2006)
This is what I do to save money on school books: