With so many different options and choices, the first semester buying textbooks is stressful– even classy co-eds can easily become overwhelmed! Keep calm and read on for help with the most difficult part of the process. Deciding whether to purchase textbooks at the bookstore or online can be simplified to one question: Do you value convenience or low prices?
If convenience is at the top of your list, your first stop is the campus bookstore. The bookstore only carries books required for the school’s current courses and the shelves are labeled by course, which makes finding your books super easy. You’ll leave the store with those books the very same day; no waiting required. Maybe you’ll meet another classy co-ed or new study partner while reaching for that PSYCH 101 textbook!
Most schools now offer the option to buy used textbooks or to rent textbooks and return at the end of the semester. These options will save cash, but quantities are often limited, so buy early! An example of this is the University Supply Store operated by The University of Alabama. You can price books online, chose to rent textbooks, and check prices of buybacks.
However, if the savvy co-ed is really low on funds, she knows buying online will save her even more! Textbooks are available online to buy new, used or to rent at a fraction of the cost of the campus bookstore.
Saving money does come with inconvenience; it could be a week or even more before you actually have the books in your hands, especially if buying directly from the previous owner. Be sure to add shipping costs when estimating the cost. Beware– because online stores cater to thousands of universities, you’ll find multiple editions of the same textbook. ALWAYS verify the correct edition of your textbooks before buying online.
Wait– convenience and low prices are both important to you? Here’s the perfect solution: Find out the price of each textbook at the campus bookstore and online. If the difference in price is drastic (say, $10 or more dollars) buy online. If the difference in price is minimal, buy at the campus bookstore. Two or three dollars will be totally worth the convenience. This method leaves you better off by maximizing convenience and low prices.
College Lifestyles offers a super easy way to compare textbook prices! Simply enter your school and course number to find out the required textbooks and the list price at your campus bookstore and new, used, and rental options online.
Ashley Offenback is a senior at Penn State University. Follow her at @ashleyoff. To stay tuned to more articles for classy co-eds be sure to follow College Lifestyles on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.