Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Textbook Scam

     It is a fact universally acknowledged that buying textbooks from your campus bookstore is comparable to an encounter with Ali Baba and his questionable compatriots. Most people are also aware that the big textbook publishers like to add "important" information and republish under the facade of a new edition... three months after its original release. The result?

You need a new book for the second class in the sequence. Unsurprisingly, the book store doesn't want your old tome, either. So how does one avoid being up the proverbial creek, paddle-less?

     It shocks me that when the average full time student spends an average of $600 a semester on books alone, websites like Amazon and are so underutilized. Often there's an option to reading through the contents before the purchase is made, so you can determine how close an older edition is to the new one you're being asked to buy. Usually, the older model is significantly cheaper and its content virtually the same.

     Other options exist, as well. There is a growing trend of students renting their textbooks out for a semester at a fraction of the retail price. In addition, it's possible to download digital versions of some books--easier on the back as well.  

And don't forget...

Start Early
  • Starting early allows you to consider all available routes. You don't get pressured into spending more money because you run out of time.

  • You can contact your professor and ask if they have any students from a previous class trying to get rid of books. He/she may even accommodate older editions by providing you with photo copies of pages you might be missing.
  • Books will arrive on time... though I'll tell you a bit of a secret. You may not even need it for the first week or two! Bit of a gamble though, so keep in touch with your prof.

Use Your Resources
  • At college, the internet is your friend. Research, click around, compare! If you want to make or save a buck, you need to be informed as to what is out there and how much it costs. There are advantages and disadvantages to any decision you make.
  • See if you can borrow a book from a friend, or go in for one together and pass it back and forth on a schedule. This makes for an excellent opportunity to study together, as well.
  • Librarians are fantastic. Your own can most likely lead you to a variety of in-library-use-only textbooks that have been kept specifically for student use.

  • Whether you choose to do this online or try to get the campus store to buy them back, pleasefortheloveofMike, sell back your books. Seriously. Unless you're a med student or have a legitimate reason to use them as reference material consistently, you don't need them after the final bell rings.

     Remember, it's your money; take responsibility and make good decisions for yourself. Any options I failed to mention?

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