Securing Spellbooks

Graphic by Chiamaka Mgboji | Mercury Staff.

When it comes to getting textbooks, there are multiple ways to do it. The campus bookstore and off-campus bookstores are more likely to carry the books your professors ask for, but they typically sell and rent for a pretty high price. Don’t worry, there are other ways to get your textbooks without breaking the bank.

Check the Library
Before you look into buying your textbook, check with the McDermott Library. The library has an online database of certain textbooks you can access with your NetID. Sometimes professors require textbooks that are available to read on the database. Some professors will even reserve copies of the textbooks at the library for students to check out for two hours at a time. While the time limit can turn students away from this option, if you manage your time wisely you will be able to get your reading done. Though it may not sound like the most convenient option, the library’s resources are free and worth looking into before purchasing textbooks outright.

Renting versus Buying
Owning a book has its advantages. There are no return dates to remember. If you are the type of student who needs to write notes in the margins or highlight important parts of the text, you can do so freely. When you’re done using your book, you can even get back some of your money by selling it to friends or classmates who need it. In these cases, you may be better off buying your textbook. You may also consider keeping the book instead of selling it, as you may need to refer back to its contents in the future. However, if you’re trying to save some money, renting is typically cheaper. You can save from just a few dollars to up to 70 percent off the retail price of the textbook. Online textbook stores such as Amazon and Chegg will pay for return shipping costs. Just be sure to be careful with your book if you rent. If you spill food or drinks on it, or even highlight too much, you will likely have to pay extra for damages. If you return the book past the deadline, you will have to pay a late fee. If you lose the book, you will certainly have to pay full price to replace the rental. Try to be careful with your rentals so you don’t end up spending money you were trying to save.

Compare Prices with Slugbooks is a site that compares prices to buy or rent textbooks across all online stores that carry them. Students can see all their choices in one place and find the cheapest or most convenient option for them. To find the book you’re looking to buy, simply enter its title or ISBN number, and Slugbooks will do the rest.

Ask a Friend
Try to ask friends and acquaintances in your major about textbooks. If they’re upperclassmen, they’ve probably already taken the class you need a textbook for and might be willing to let you buy the book off them or even borrow it. This is also a good option for saving money on special editions of textbooks only sold in the campus bookstores. Occasionally, a class will require a textbook edition you can’t find anywhere online. This is the time to ask your friends to see if any of them have bought it.

Remember, you have options! Ask your friends if they happen to own the book, head to the library or consider renting the textbook before buying it.

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