A thrifty guide to buying textbooks

Leo Costello, Opinion Editor

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I’ve accrued quite a hefty sum of overpriced textbook purchases throughout my college career, most of which didn’t need to be made.

I’d like to offer you students a few tips for purchasing textbooks I’ve learned over the years so you don’t have to shell out hundreds of dollars on a book, and maybe I can help lighten the load in your backpack.

This first tip might be obvious, but you shouldn’t buy a textbook unless you know you’ll need it. If your professor says you’ll need a certain textbook, that might not be enough to warrant buying it.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought a textbook, needing it as reference for one assignment in a course, then never needing to use it again. I suggest borrowing a classmate’s book if you feel this might be the case.

Technical courses like math, science or reading-heavy courses usually require a textbook, so I’d definitely get one for those.

The fear of missing out on cheap used textbooks might be tempting, but it’s still worth your money to avoid buying a textbook unless you’re 100% certain you’ll need it.

At the very least, remind yourself of the return rate for your purchased textbook so you can return it at the last minute if you don’t think you’ll need it for the rest of the semester.

Secondly, browse multiple shops for the best price. University Books & More often doesn’t have the most competitive prices for new or used books. Check out Amazon, eBay, Chegg and Half Price Books (hpb.com or Appleton location) to find the best offer.

Make sure to search by ISBN (a unique numeric commercial book identifier) for an easier experience.

I’ve personally gotten the most luck buying textbooks from Amazon for mere pennies, then selling them at “textbook buyback” at UB&M for a profit. Your mileage may vary.

If you can’t find a decent price to buy a textbook, renting is always the way to go, unless, of course, you actually want to own the book.

Third, there’s usually no need to buy the newest version of a textbook. Most of the time, yearly editions of textbooks are just a scam, offering very little difference from edition to edition or adding unnecessary fluff.

Lastly, though online textbooks might be cheaper, I’ve personally had inconsistent experiences with them. This is a bit subjective, but I almost always find it easier to have a physical copy that doesn’t take up a tab on my browser. Plus, you can’t sell back an e-book.