Gathering supplies can be a stressful experience, whether you’re anticipating your first year of college or dreading the pre-term mad dash. Thankfully, the digital age is making it easier to buy, sell, and trade just about anything online—including college textbooks. Check out these Web resources and other helpful tips for alleviating the hassle (and the cost) of getting the books you need.
When you can avoid it, wait until after the first class session before buying the required book(s). That way you won’t get stuck with a pricey book in the event that the teacher places little emphasis on it or you decide to drop the class.
Once you’re sure which books you’ll need, find the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) for each, which will help you search quickly for titles in bookstores and online. If you plan to buy locally, remember that off-campus bookstores usually offer lower prices.
On the Web, larger online booksellers such as eBay and Amazon can sometimes offer better shipping rates than their smaller counterparts, but you might have more luck finding what you need through vendors who deal exclusively in college textbooks, such as these for example:
- www.bookbyte.com – Founded near Salem, Oregon, in 1999.
- www.bigwords.com – Compares the prices of “all the best textbook stores” to help students find the cheapest deals.
- www.valorebooks.com – Started by a group of college students in 2002.
Here are some additional tips for finding the textbooks you need for college without breaking the bank:
- Search campus-wide message boards or your school’s MySpace or Facebook section for students who want to buy/sell their books.
- Check the campus library for loaner copies.
- Share a book with a friend or classmate, photocopying important sections prior to exams.
Selling books back at the end of the semester can sometimes be disappointing, since textbooks completely lose their value if they are not selected by the university for reuse. Here are some options for maximizing the return value of your saleable used books:
- Sell to friends and classmates.
- Sell back to on- and off-campus bookstores.
- Compare shipping rates and consider selling your books to an online textbook retailer.
If you find that there is no cash-back value on your books, but you don’t want to simply throw them away, consider donating your old books to schools, libraries, and correctional facilities. Inquire about book donation programs with your university or visit www.albany.edu/~dlafonde/Global/bookdonation.htm for a list of opportunities.
Many colleges and universities help to facilitate textbook swapping both as a money-saving solution for students and an environmentally-friendly alternative to printing new books. Visit Web sites such as www.textswap.com and www.monstertrade.com, where you can search by state or school for other students in your area who are interested in swapping books. As with any transaction that originates online, you should exercise good judgment and caution when making book trade arrangements independently.