“Looking for CS1371 book.”
“$30 and it’s yours.”
“Selling Chem1310 book (6th edition Zumdahl).”
So read the comments on the Georgia Tech Book Swap Facebook page, one method students are using to avoid paying retail price for textbooks.
Teresa Hu is a junior at Tech, majoring in computer science. In her freshman year, she did “what all the other freshmen did” by purchasing books from the campus bookstore. “I didn’t know any better because I hadn’t talked to any other upperclassmen yet, and during orientation we were only told about Barnes & Noble.
“After my first semester,” Hu recalls, “I learned through girls in my sorority that Engineer’s Bookstore on Marietta [St.] is a lot less expensive and just as convenient to get to.”
When it came time to sell back expensive books, Agnes Scott sophomore Louisa Morton felt burned.
“When I first came to school I was doing neuroscience, and my bio book was $200,” says Morton, now majoring in economics and organizational management and public health. “I had to sell it back and it was only $80. I have been careful since then.”
Both women shared their tips on how to save this fall on textbooks, whether buying or selling (so you can instead use your quarters for doing laundry).
Buy used from a bookstore, online or other students: Hu now usually orders books from Half.com or AbeBooks.com. “After I’m done with the course, I’ll resell books for about the same amount I originally paid for them, so it’s almost like borrowing a book for a semester for free.”
Additionally, the websites’ grace period for a full refund on purchases is longer than at some college bookstores, though Hu says a downside is the initial wait: She orders books two to three weeks before classes start.
Use an older version of the book: “For my science classes last year, I would ask my professor if it was OK to get a different edition,” Morton says, “because sometimes you can get a different edition for a lot cheaper.” Buying older versions can save you as much as $100.
Rent from your college or a rental service: “If I’m planning on keeping it, I’ll buy it used,” says Morton. “But otherwise I rent and return it at the end of the semester.
“I was just talking to the woman in the bookstore yesterday, and she said the worst books to invest in are in the language books, because they come out with a new edition every year,” which means you won’t get back much money — if any — when you try to return it, she says. “It’s better just to rent those.”
Borrow from the library or other students: “Don’t be afraid to ask,” says Hu. “You can ask friends, classmates and people you’re in clubs, band or Greek life with. I’ve been able to borrow books for a semester from friends of friends many times.”
Do you have other tips for saving money on college textbooks? Share with us in the comments section.
– By Lauren Davidson, Atlanta Bargain Hunter