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The College Freshman Textbook Experience

I look back at my first semester of college very fondly thinking about all the new people I got to meet. It also brings back memories of buying all the new versions of the textbooks my professor recommended. While I can’t get my money back now, I can help the future generations of college students with a helpful guide for getting your books and not spending more than you have to. Here are 5 tips for getting your books at the right price.


  1. Ask your professor if the book is recommended or necessary. In college you will probably take a lot of classes where your professors use alternative methods to give you content, like new articles and free sources. Make sure to check your syllabus well, because it may show you that you won’t use the book at all! Personally, I’m not afraid to send an email if I feel the syllabus didn’t answer my question. Additionally, you can ask if an older version of the textbook will be sufficient, because older versions are usually much cheaper. This method will likely save you the most money.


  1. Only buy new when you have to. Usually the only time you would need to buy new would be when your class requires some sort of access code for an online program. For example, most accounting courses will require an access code for McGraw Hill and similar titles. Check with your professors if you will need that access code! If you get a book without the access code, the price will drop dramatically. From personal experience, you will save about $100. Buying used books will also grant the same utility as a new one. Additionally, the resale value of used textbooks will be more predictable and stable than new books. Most retailers will tell you the condition of the book before you buy it. Used books aren’t dirty or gross, they’re usually just cheaper. You can also find information about renting textbooks here.


  1. Don’t use your university bookstore. Your university’s bookstore will probably be the most straightforward and easy way to get the textbooks you need. However, this is why they have such ridiculous upcharges. When shopping online for your books, you can cross check many different prices across the web with an ISBN number. This method will allow you to quickly and easily find the lowest price on the Internet if you’re willing to check a couple websites. Click here for a link to an article about why used books can be so much cheaper.


  1. Start looking for good prices before the semester begins. This is one of the biggest reasons why people cave in and buy from university bookstores. They become concerned that they will need the textbook earlier than online retailers can deliver to them. While this can be avoided by getting your books early, you should also know that even small online retailers now have fast delivery speeds. This is due to the increased prominence of this kind of delivery infrastructure. Still, staying away from procrastination is a great habit to get into before the school year begins.


  1. Watch out for high shipping prices. Some online retailers wait to tell you the price of shipping until after you’ve gone through all the hassle of assembling the books you need into your cart. This usually isn’t malicious and is only done due to a lack of front end technology on their website. Here at Books Express, we don’t charge shipping fees for all U.S. orders. We do this to save you the shell shock of getting to the checkout counter and seeing that your price went up by around $50. We appreciate simplicity and transparency, and we know that you do too.