When you’re a Ramen-eating college student, textbooks may as well cost an arm and a leg. Between tuition and rent, it can be painful to watch several hundred dollars turn into books that you may not end up using. Despite the high prices, there are ways to work the system and find the best deal. The Central Florida Future has a few pointers to keep the prices down, and get the best deal for your dollar.
Use a textbook search engine to compare prices. Search engines, such as TextbookSpyder.com, allow you to find the best deal on specific textbook. Using a title or ISBN, the engine searches through other websites like Amazon, AbeBooks, and eBooks.com. A list is then compiled detailing the best places to get your textbook, shipping included.
Buy used textbooks. New textbooks are always pricier than used ones. The pages may be a little worn, and there might be notes between the lines, but used textbooks have just the same information as new ones, but at a cheaper price.
Rent your books. Most textbook websites give you the option to rent instead of buy. Often times, renting is cheaper, and if you’re looking for a book that’s not related to your major, renting is probably the best way to go.
Check out the campus library. If they carry the book you need, it’s completely free to check out or reference when you need it.
Get the e-book. If your professor is expecting you to bring your textbook to class each meeting, having an e-book is much easier than lugging around 500 pages. Depending on the rental period, e-books can be a cheaper alternative to getting a hard-copy, and they’re accessible on most devices. Try Chegg.com or Amazon for the Kindle Reading App version of your textbook.
Alyssa Ewing, freshman criminal justice major, found using an e-book is more convenient than traditional hard copies.
“I've used an e-book once and it was much cheaper than a regular textbook,” Ewing said. “I didn't mind not having a physical copy of the book, and found the e-book beneficial because I could use my laptop or phone and didn't have to bring a hard copy to class.”
Share with a friend. Maybe you know someone in your class that would be up for splitting the cost of buying or renting a textbook. Find a reliable study buddy that you can share a book with, and you’ve cut the cost in half.
Consider buying older editions. In the syllabus, professors detail the required textbooks down to the edition. Often times, there are older versions of the textbook that are just as good as the newest. Speak to your professor about whether an older version will suffice for the semester. You may end up saving yourself a good deal of money.
Sell your old books. If you have no use for your old books, don’t let them sit in your closet and collect dust. Sell them to others taking the class in following semesters. Reaching out to classmates via Facebook is a good way to find other students in need of books. Alternatively, there are a variety of websites that will buy your books back, such as Amazon or ValoreBooks.com.
Freshman nursing major, Kelsey Fisher, sells her used textbooks by posting to the UCF Textbook Exchange Facebook page.
“I sell my textbooks because after I spend the money to buy them at the beginning of the semester, I can get a majority of that money back,” Fisher said. “Also because after I've already used them I don't have a need for them anymore and I don't want them to pile up and not be used. Someone else who is taking that class might as well put them to use.”
The search for textbooks doesn’t have to leave your wallet empty. By doing some research and being creative, you can get your materials for a good price. Books for a bargain are possible!
Rosie Reitze is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @rosie_ucf or email her at RosieR@centralfloridafuture.com.