Buying Books Blows

Even if you’re only a freshman in college, you know the pain of buying textbooks.  All that hard earned money out the window and then you can only sell them for what feels like pennies in comparison, if you can sell them at all.  It’s especially painful if a professor tells you a book is “required” and then you only use it once. Evil schemers.

I’m here to tell you how to save as much money as possible on your college textbooks.  I read my dear friend Megan’s post from a few days ago and I think $1000 a semester for books is blasphemy.  Blasphemy! Unless you’re in 8 or 9 classes (in which case I wish you good luck) your books SHOULD NOT be that much if you use the right venues.  I admit, sometimes it takes a smidge more effort to do it my way, but if it means saving a bunch of money I’ll put the time in.

To put it into perspective, I spent around $300 dollars on my books this semester and around the same last semester.  I’m only in 5 classes right now but I had to buy 18 books which is a pretty decent amount.  Unfortunately, there are some circumstances where you’ll have no other choice but to pay over $100 dollars for a book, but a lot of times that can be avoided.  This might happen to you if:

a. the book is rare or old-last semester the textbook my French teacher wanted us to have had been out of print since the 90’s so the only place I could find it was at my University’s bookstore.

b. the book is customized for a specific course at your school-all freshman at my school are required to take a Valparaiso University designed class we call CORE which doesn’t really fit into any subject category. As a result, if I were to transfer, there’s a large chance the credits from that course wouldn’t transfer over with me.  That also means my University designed the textbook so it literally does not exist anywhere else but here.

Besides these two cases, most books can be found in numerous online and offline locations.  Of course, your University will have all those books ready for you to order with one click, but looking somewhere else can mean the biggest difference.  At first I was skeptical to buy my books on any random website that claimed “We sell and buy new and used textbooks!” But to be honest, I’ve bought from at least 4 websites and haven’t run into any problems or scams.

I stumbled across this website: and holy crap do I love it.  You enter the title or ISBN (I recommend the ISBN) of the book you want to buy and it will tell you the availability of that book as well as compare prices of it on 10 different websites! Awesome, right?  Every book is different, but with the majority of mine I found that is always the most expensive and either or is your best bet.  Shipping can seem expensive, but I did the math and still came out on top.

I don’t know if I’ve said this yet but DO NOT buy your books from your University if you can help it! To put it into some more perspective, if I had bought/rented all my books at the cheapest prices my University was offering they would have cost me $600 without shipping. I cut my spending in half! To be fair, I know I won’t always be able to do that, but it’s worth it when you can.

So! I hope something I’ve said helps you out, even just a little.  And maybe in the future your book buying experience won’t blow so much.

Mich out.


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