Textbook Shopping Made Easy
Starting a new semester can be a hectic time of adjustment. You’re scrambling to rearrange your schedule, prepare for classes, move in and unpack, and reconnect with friends you haven’t seen in months. So why not lighten your beginning-of-the-semester load and take care of one of your biggest priorities over the break?
Numerous, cumbersome, and costly, textbooks are often the bane of college students, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Purchasing your books before the beginning of the semester (and thereby avoiding the campus bookstore rush when you arrive at college) can make the experience much less stressful.
First and foremost, you need to find what books you need. If your professor has not yet posted them online, send him or her a polite e-mail inquiring about the required reading for the course. Don’t hesitate; your teachers are there to help you, and will probably appreciate your proactivity.
Next, start searching – online is a great place to start. The web offers many student deals on textbooks. Amazon Student, a membership upgrade on Amazon.com free for college students with a valid .edu e-mail address, offers six months of free two-day shipping on eligible purchases and other benefits. StudentUniverse offers cash back on many websites that sell and rent textbooks, including Chegg.com, Bookbyte.com, Alibris, and Barnes and Noble. Renting or buying used books whenever possible are your most economical options, but be wary if your professor requires the latest or a particular edition. To make your searches more specific, enter the ISBN numbers of your books into search boxes instead of their titles or author names.
The Internet is a great resource, and will probably be your primary one if you’re buying books over the break. However, you can also find many of the books you might need in unlikely places. Used bookstores, flea markets, and library sales are great places to find copies of the classics for ridiculously cheap prices. Why buy a new $13.00 Penguin Classics edition of Dante’s Inferno when you can buy a perfectly good used copy for less than a dollar? Again, be careful; your professor may want you to purchase a specific edition of a book for the commentary or footnotes, and it’s doubtful that you’ll find a new copy of your psychology textbook at a yard sale. Nevertheless, this strategy can reduce your financial strain to some degree.
Some of your required reading may be specific to your college, and chances are that you’ll end up turning to your campus bookstore for something on your list. However, coming to school with even just a few of your textbooks will shorten your to-do list and make your summer-college transition easier.