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Monday, July 15, 2013

Saving Money on Textbooks

Textbooks are a huge portion of my college budget, and I'd rather spend the money on Chipotle or tuition. But a burrito won't take me medical school and my physics book will. Buying textbooks doesn't have to be a huge financial disaster. Here's a collection of some advice I've picked up along the way!


  • Having fun isn't hard when you have a library card! I haven't checkout a book since high school, but libraries at UT have an expansive e-book collection. You won't typically find major textbooks as an e-book, however you can find a few history books and english books. One of the greatest advantages of an e-book (besides having it 100% free with student tuition) is the space you save in your dorm room. Need a chapter read on the go? Pull it up on your phone or print out the chapter you need!
  • Do you need to rent or buy? There are several advantages and disadvantages to each option. If you rent the textbook it can be cheaper, but you need to make sure that you keep it in good condition and remeber to return it in on time. This means that you can't annotate your textbook and that oil stain will cost you. If you buy your textbook you can do with it as you please. Write in it, use it as a door stop, sell it once you are done. This option is normally more expensive and trying to find a buyer can normally be a hassle. So how do you choose? Personally I buy books that relate to my major and all of my pre med books and rent my required core class books. I know that I will constantly refer to my basic biology textbook, but I can't say the same for my Texas Political History book.
  • Ask if older editions are acceptable. The basic foundations of biology will not change from the 7th to the 8th editions, but there might be a few extra chapters included. Normally my professors have been gracious by including page numbers from a few editions. If you don't see that on the syllabus, just email your professor.  If there aren't any major changes, buy the older book and save some money. 
  • Shop around first. Bargain hunting should be your number one tool for textbook shopping. Your school's bookstore can be a great resource and sometimes they will be the only one that carries a specific textbook, but they are normally the most expensive option. Amazon treats college students well and my favorite place to buy books would be Better World Books! They collect and sell books online to donate books and money to literacy initiatives worldwide! BWB also have free shipping which brings me to ...
  • Shipping is the enemy. If you are buying books online and they are not coming from the same seller, watch the price. I have made the mistake of spending way too much for shipping and it can be avoided. Be vigilant!

Let me know if you have any other advice when it comes to textbooks!

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