The economy’s weak, gas is about to hit $4 a gallon, and even Ramen prices are going up, so it’s no surprise that students may be strapped for cash when paying for textbooks this semester. Don’t spend more than you need to—check out our run-down of booksellers to see where you can get the biggest bang for your buck.
Barnes & Noble at Tech Square: It’s conveniently close to campus and you can get special rates and deals for depositing a large sum of money, but that’s the catch—you have to deposit a large sum of money for the books here. Generally the most expensive option around, this seller is recommended only if you’re in a crunch and need a book immediately.
Engineer’s Bookstore: Located on Marietta Street near West Campus, Engineer’s has more used books in stock and sometimes charges $20 to $30 less than Barnes & Noble for new titles. But you have to get there early—Engineer’s is known for running out of its cheaper books.
Online Sellers: There are a slew of online booksellers like Amazon.com, half.com and textbooksrus.com that offer books at drastic discounts, especially if they’re used. When able, search for the international version, which provides the same content, a different cover and a much cheaper price. For instance, Pearson’s 8th edition Calculus book costs $100 in the U.S. and $38 in the U.K. (you can snag these savings at Amazon.co.uk). If comparison shopping online gets too overwhelming, use CampusBooks.com to search dozens of merchants and hundreds of listings to find the cheapest options.
Chegg.com: Geared towards first and second-year college students, Chegg.com is an up-and-comer on the textbook scene that rents out books for core classes. Students from over 1,000 universities are using the service and are reportedly saving up to 80 percent. A green bonus: the online seller claims to plant a tree for every textbook rented.
Free Books: Yes, there is such a thing. TextbookRevolution.org and FlatWorldKnowledge.com offer textbooks online for free. But you’d better check with the sites first to see if they carry the book required for your class. If not, the free books can still serve as great reference material.
Still looking for ways to save? Professors and students offer their money-savvy tips:
“You can contact the book’s publisher and buy a pass code so you can get online materials without buying the textbook. It can get you access to answers to problems and some online chapters.” – David Smith, CS professor
“Ask upperclassmen friends if you can buy or borrow from them. Ask your professor if you can use a previous edition, because usually there isn’t much of a difference and it’s a lot cheaper.” – Sophia Fisher, 4th-year BIOL
“If the option exists, find a used copy. Buy a book with someone else and share it, if that works logistically.” – Richard Catrambone, PSYC professor
“Try eBay. Find upperclassmen you can buy from. Hitting up any family members you have on campus also works.” – David Trawick, 2nd-year AE
(With additional reporting by Randy Darnowsky, staff writer)