Hey everyone! It’s been a while and I’m back today for a new post (finally) on a topic that I think a lot of us students out there have struggled with: How to save on textbooks?!
During my time away, I finished my first semester as a paralegal student and is now settling into my second. I know it’s way past back-to-school season, but I figured better late than never. So here’s what I’ve learned over the years when it comes to saving some hard-earned cash legally (we do things legit around here 😉
Number one rule: BUY USED/SECOND HAND TEXTBOOKS — avoid and fight the new textbook smell/allure at all costs!
Start looking as soon as you get the book list — the number of sellers may be less than you think, some people do want to keep their textbooks for reference purposes (myself included). So start looking early, especially if your textbook is in a very specialized field
Ask/email your prof to ensure the latest edition is actually necessary — Profs don’t always know, especially when they didn’t do the revision themselves, but it never hurts to ask. Some profs like to use very detailed, textbook oriented powerpoint slides/teaching material, so in that case I’d say the prescribed text isn’t 100% essential to your success (also means you probably shouldn’t skip all the classes :p). Other profs do not use powerpoint at all, and/or goes completely off script, in that case I’d say seriously consider just buying the textbook (if only for your own sanity when finals hit)
Check the school library — In my experience, the school library usually have one or two copies of the text on reference. If you are good with studying in the library for a longer period of time, definitely consider just reading the prescribed chapters in the library. You don’t have to buy the textbook at all, and I think it may even give you motivation to do the readings ahead of time to avoid the chance the book is checked out by someone else. I’ve never tried this but I do know some classmates who advoate for this method with a passion.
Kijiji — This is my go-to. I know a few other websites (mostly based in the US) that does textbook buy/sell/exchange, but in Toronto, this is where most sellers post their textbooks for sale. I strongly recommend buying/selling textbooks in person, one to avoid shipping charges, and two you get to meet the owner of the book and ask about first-hand tips of the course before you even take it! That’s a win-win in my book (bad pun intended). One downside to Kijiji or any local meet up resale is that you are still dealing with a stranger, and they don’t always keep their word even if they agree to sell the book to you. I’ve had instances where we’ve agreed on the price, time, location of the meet-up but it fell through because the seller sold it to the first person willing to drive up to their house with the money. So be prepared and have a back up, contact a few sellers, and brush it off if the “deal” fell through. We are all human, it happens.
Look at another school/campus’ forum/Facebook group — Check to see if your course/program is offered anywhere else in the city, and try and see if you can post an ad on that school/campus’ textbook exchange site. Make sure you include the actual ISBN of the book because course codes are most likely different.
Check the publisher’s website for the ebook version — This is especially relevant and lesser known for the paralegal textbooks. The publisher for all of our textbooks offer ebook versions for about $20 less than if you were to buy the new physical copy. This is a great option if you really can’t find the text but needs that exact edition for your course, and you don’t mind reading on the computer. Sometimes the ebooks may be further discounted if you are okay with only having access to it for a limited period of time. Check to see if your publisher have this option for you to choose from.
I know these are pretty simple, basic tips and you’re probably screaming “duh! we know!”, but they are tried and true for me, so I thought I’d cover all my bases and make sure to get the word out 😉
Let me know in the comment below your experience when it comes to buying textbooks!
(Feature image by Dustin Lee @ www.retrosupply.co)