College is expensive enough as it is. The last thing students need to worry about, is finding ways to pay for the books they need to use in the courses they are taking. However, it is a necessary evil for all students from undergraduate freshmen to doctoral students. There are some ways to avoid paying full price for books.
Campus stores will always (or almost always) have a decent stock of every book needed for every course offered by the college or university. Often, these stores have used copies of the book as well, offered at reduced prices. Even still, students can usually do better by finding the books they need online.
Before determining where to go online, there are a few things to take into consideration, most of which revolves around timing. First, an early start is imperative. Contacting the school and/or professors will often allow students to get a list of the books they will need a week or more in advance. Secondly, one should find out when the books will be needed. Not all books are used right away. Lastly, contact a professor to determine if earlier editions of the same book will be acceptable. If the book is a significant part of the class and/or homework, this usually isn’t the case, but if it is more of a supplement, one can save a lot of money by ordering earlier editions.
As for where to look, the search should always begin with eBay, as well as half.com. These affiliated sites can offer the cheapest prices available. eBay, of course, requires you to win an auction, which may be time consuming. Half.com is a purchase right away site, and will often lead to similar prices. The problem with both of these is always timing. Even with the fastest shippers, purchases from these sites tend to take a few extra days to arrive. However, some sellers offer expedited shipping, making these two sites no-brainers for textbook shopping.
Amazon.com and Abebooks.com have reduced prices on new and used textbooks. These two sites are just about guaranteed to have the necessary textbooks. They also have a wide variety of shipping options. If a book is needed in a day or two, that can be arranged. If the class doesn’t begin for two weeks, one can usually arrange for free shipping from these sites.
A few minutes spent comparing prices can lead to big savings in the long run.