Hassle Free Textbooks 101

Every college student needs textbooks. Some high school students need to purchase textbooks. Grad students and professors never stop buying textbooks. So how can you manage to get these books without totally running out of money? We’ve got some suggestions that we’ve perfected over the years. Everyone buying books fits into one of four categories: I Am Never Going to Keep These Books and I Don’t Want a Hassle of Reselling, I Am Never Going to Keep These Books but I Want Some Money Back, I Am Going to Keep Some and I Don’t Want to Keep Others, and I’m Keeping Everything.

Regardless of your category, one site – BigWords.com (@bigwordsdotcom) lets you specify all this information so you can choose what’s best for you. How BigWords works – you put in your list of books using the title or ISBN or author, etc. Tell it you want to buy those books (at this point, buy and rent are the same). It produces two lists and lot of options. In the options, you can specify that you want to see buying and/or renting options, you want to see books that can use your half.com, Amazon (@amazon) or Barnes and Noble (@bnbuzz) accounts/discounts, international copies, ebooks, teacher copies, etc. It also let’s you take into account how much a site you’re buying from will give you back if you agree to sell it back at the end of the term. (You can save all these settings if you make an account. They don’t kill you with spam). Once you’re done with your options, the first list tells you the best price from a single company and the other list helps you decide the best price for each book. So if you want to buy some and rent some, this list helps you do that. BigWords doesn’t sell anything itself – it’s just the middleman. But gotta love the cool stickers they send if you buy something through their site and request them.

Don’t want to stick to just one site to look for everything? Try these suggestions –

Book Rental –

Some colleges are operating their own rental programs these days at fairly competitive pricing. If you don’t mind standing in line or still competing with those cut throat sessions of diving for books to keep “that guy” from getting it, go to the bookstore. Money wise it may be great, particularly if you can get advance money from your financial aid to purchase them this way.

However, if you’d rather just check your mailbox, companies like Chegg.com (@chegg) are absolutely amazing at this process. They have a large selection of books and you can rent paper books and some ebooks. Plus you get free stickers and knickknacks (everybody needs post-its, right?) and don’t have to pay shipping to return the books. You can mark the books up as much as you feel like it and they expect that. Every time we’ve used Chegg, we’ve gotten really great copies so you’re not struggling to read the pages and can have a pretty good chance of knowing that highlighting is yours. If you decide you want to keep it, Chegg will charge you a nominal amount above the rental price and it’s all yours. Did you drop the class or find out something is wrong with the book? Return it within 21 days and get your money back. Go to Chegg to see what it’s all about.

Buying Books –

Amazon Student (@amazonstudent) lets you sign up with your school email address and get some really sweet deals. The best one? Amazon Prime for free for six months and a discounted price after that. And it’s not just for textbooks – it’s for anything Amazon sells that is Prime Eligible and to stream movies :) Amazon Prime doesn’t cover the Marketplace books so you only really save on shipping for new books or supplies.

Having accounts at several booksites isn’t uncommon after you’ve been in school a while. Ones that I come back to over and over because of great coupons or really great shipping are Better World Books (@bwbooks), Alibris (@alibris), Half.com, and Amazon. Better World Books donates a book to someone in need for every book you buy. And your books send you emails when they are on their way to you! Who doesn’t love humor? You can also donate books to Better World Books at book dropboxes near you. Barnes and Noble is great for some areas and not so much for others. It might be good for the field you study, so don’t forget to look there.

E-Textbooks –

Many schools are promoting e-textbooks or e-books, but remember that sometimes you can turn that book back in and sometimes you can’t. Be clear what you’re getting into before you choose to go for that option instead of a paperback or hardback. While we definitely love e-readers here at The Pink C, we also know that you can sometimes lose all notations and highlights on e-books so have a backup of notes in case your e-reader goes on the fritz before that big exam. Certain e-books, like those considered classics, are usually available for free.

Book Buyback –

While school bookstores have been doing this for ages, many e-retailers are getting into the act. Sometimes, they’ll give you a good return on your investment. If you’re looking for the best return, you might want to sell it yourself on a place like Half.com or Amazon Marketplace. If you don’t care and just want one place to send it back, the place you bought it from might be offering an automatic buyback or let you know they are willing to buy it back. Look out for this when you’re browsing their site and when you put items in your cart.

Online Coupons –

If you subscribe to mailing lists for book e-retailers you might get a few coupons or a clue about sales. Otherwise, online coupon websites, like Retail Me Not (@retailmenot), have coupon codes that you can use for either a certain number of dollars off or a percentage off your purchase. Never hurts to check or try to use the code. Sometimes they won’t work, sometimes they will. I know I love 20% off my shopping cart when buying books.

Buy a book directly from someone you know –

While we like to focus these days on going to get your own, befriend other people in your major or people that have already taken a class you need to take. They may be trying to unload their books for a decent price and you can likely just connect with them and get it for cash or a gift card or something. If they are a really good student, they might have some pretty good notes in the margins!

The library –

What’s better than cheap? Free. Many professors will put textbooks for their class in the library reserves. If it’s an English class or another class with readings from regular books, those books might also be in your school library or in the public library in town. Check those places first. If the book is on reserve you can’t check it out long term but neither can other people. Get it long enough to make your own notes then someone else gets to use it. The professor might have put associated help books or answer books on reserve as well, so be sure to look or ask. If it’s not in the library, ask the professor. Sometimes they’ll be willing to let you come to their office to use the book or let you borrow an older copy of the same book. This last action helps you twice – you get your work done AND you have to talk to the professor. Brownie points!

Do you have any tips about finding books for a great price? Share them in the comments!! We’ll repost all the suggestions as a new post with your user handle attached. Keep coming back for our Back to School series!

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