At Take Stock in College, we know that purchasing college textbooks can cause major sticker shock, but have no fear—a savvy student scholar can find ways to limit costs! Your College Completion Coaches are here to help you through it, especially if this is your first time buying college textbooks. Allow the steps below to be your guide!
- Assemble your booklist
Use your college schedule to identify which books are required for your classes. It is important to look at the course name AND section number. Not all LIT101 classes cover the same novels, so your section number will help you purchase the correct texts. Sometimes a reading list is available via your online schedule, but you can also find your lists on your course syllabus or at the campus bookstore. If you have any trouble locating these, your College Completion Coaches can be your guide.
- Comparison shop
Don’t just collect the titles of the books you need—check out the International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs) too! These handy digits are located on the barcode and can help you compare prices of the exact edition you need of your textbook. You can purchase textbooks at the campus bookstore, online, or from other students directly. The secret to saving money is often investing time comparing prices, so don’t be afraid to exhaust your options. We recommend Chegg, Campus Book Renter, Textbooks.com or consider using your student email address to sign up for an Amazon Student Account. Free two-day shipping will really help you get your books in a timely manner.
- Check out the book from the library
Early birds might be able to check their required reading out from their campus or community library. Don’t hesitate to type your ISBNs into the search bar of the library’s book search. You might be able to save cash by taking advantage of these free resources! Pro tip: when you are signing up for your classes for next semester, submit a book reservation request. By leveraging your campus resources early, you are much more likely to beat the rush!
- Consider renting your textbooks
Remember you don’t have to buy your textbooks—you can rent them! There is much less of an upfront investment when you rent textbooks. However, you should protect that investment by keeping the books in good shape. Purchase book covers or if you want to be even thriftier, you can make them out of brown paper shopping bags. Try to keep them away from food and drinks, and keep them in your backpack when not in use. Renting textbooks may not be a good bet if you want to highlight as you read. This is usually allowed, but check the fine print on your receipt before you take out your highlighters or markers.
- Consider e-books
For our more evergreen, tech-savvy students, you might consider purchasing e-books in place of standard paper editions. These travel lighter and tend to cost less. However, not every teacher allows their student to use e-books in class. Consider checking in with your professors or their syllabi before dropping these in your cart.
- Try to sell your books back later
If you decide to buy your books outright, you can sell them back at the end of the semester. Keep your ears open during next semester’s registration for your friends or acquaintances that may need that textbook soon. You can also utilize your network on TakeStockConnect.com! On Take Stock Connect, you can reach out to fellow Take Stock Scholars at your school or even at Florida’s other public colleges and universities that might need that book too!
- Consider staggering your purchases
Some classes require multiple books per semester. Literature classes, for instance, often work through multiple novels over the course of the semester. In these cases, you may only need one book at a time and can purchase books as you need them. That being said, waiting too long in the semester could limit your rental and purchasing options. Further, you never want to find yourself in the position of waiting for textbooks to arrive when you need them for an assignment, so plan ahead!
Bonus: If all else fails, reach out to your professor
Professors sometimes own multiple volumes of the assigned text and can be persuaded to loan these to students that genuinely can’t afford their textbooks. We recommend using this as a last-ditch option. You know what Shakespeare says, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.” No one wants to go to the person who assigns their grade with a ketchup-stained copy of The Iliad.
Make certain that you choose the option that will maximize your potential for you to both do your best and save those earned scholarship dollars. You are more likely to save money shopping early, and you might need time for your books to arrive if you order online. We recommend you come to class with your textbooks on the first day, but you need to have them no later than the first week of school. You don’t want to fall behind!
Remember, your College Completion Coaches are here to help you and we want you to succeed! Don’t hesitate to reach out if you are baffled by the book-buying process. We know how tight money can be and we don’t want you to be set back by overly expensive books in your first few weeks of the semester.