College Advice Blog

Jan 9, 2011

Buying College Textbooks

Okay, so it's that time of the year when you have to start searching for college textbooks. It's a dreading task, but it must be done. Just remember: do not buy your college textbooks from your school's bookstore; they are much cheaper elsewhere. Below are some tips to help you save when buying these pricey college textbooks.

Register Early!
First of all, register for your classes as soon as registration is allowed; you will need every precious minute you can get to search for good-priced books. You have to start your search early because the closer the time gets to the first day of school, the higher the textbook prices will get.

Contact Professors
Next, get in touch with all of your professors before they take their breaks. Ask them for textbook information from title, to edition, to ISBN numbers. If they don't give you the information, then you can be smart and figure out ways to get the info. I have had professors who refuse to give me the information, they've told me to just go buy textbooks from the college bookstore. However, I don't take no for an answer, so I do my own digging and by the time the semester starts I would have all the books with little help from some professors.

Get to Work
When you have all the information, you need to get right to work. One of the best sites you'll need to know is This site compares book prices in many online bookstores. Other sites you'll need to know are amazon, half, and ebay. Something else you'll need is a PayPal account, mostly for ebay because it's the safest and fastest way to buy anything online. In the other sites like and, you can pay for purchases by credit card or bank account. Just make sure that the site is secure when you enter personal information. In some sites you would see a little lock on the right hand corner of the address bar, which means it's secure.

You have to seriously look at many different online bookstores for your books to see which has the best price. However, you should first try your local library or your school library and see if they have inter-loan options.

Buy Used
Remember you don't have to buy new books because they will obviously be more expensive. There is nothing wrong with getting a used textbook that has some highlighting or some tears as long as no pages are missing.

International Edition
You can also buy international versions of the college textbooks you need, which is completely fine because they will be the exact same books, just with different production of papers. Most international books are paperback, so you won't be breaking your back carrying them to school like hardcovers!

What are you Waiting for? Order Now!
Once you find each book order it and you if you still have 2-3 weeks before school starts you can use the cheapest shipping method, which is media mail (another reason why you should start early). However, if you don't have enough time left, update the shipment method to priority mail (costs a couple of dollars extra). 

You're Done! 
Once you have all your books enjoy whatever time you still have off from school.

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