Friday, August 15, 2014

Best approach to buying textbooks?


Can you believe you’re a mere week away from classes starting? I’m sure it feels like you were making your college decision just yesterday. By the way, congrats on picking the best school!

You have gone through a stressful, yet exciting past couple of months. You’ve made decisions such as choosing your college, finding a roommate and attending summer orientation. You’re now a week away from college and besides moving in (that’s the fun stuff) you have one final stress: textbooks.

Welcome to a new world of buying your own textbooks!

... but don’t worry, they’re much nicer than those flimsy, torn up books in high school that date back to the early 90’s. As you anticipated, your textbooks come at an inevitable cost, sometimes higher than expected. You’re not alone. It seems like we all spend a little too much than we would like on books each semester but I promise it hurts your wallet a little less when they’re well worth it.

If you’re unsure of how you want to go about book buying for the semester, you can always attend the first week of classes to get a feel for which books you will definitely need. Professors are very honest and open about whether the book is an absolute necessity or not. My best advice would be to take it from there and decide based on your study habits.

You won’t be forced to have your book in hand on the first day or even in the first week, during which time students are still dropping and picking up classes. You will usually break them out by the second, sometimes third week of class. I personally bought every book the first semester in fear of what was to come and there were some I never opened, and I did just fine!

Most professors put a considerable amount of their exam material on their PowerPoint slides so make sure to attend all your classes, but that’s another story. If you would like to purchase all your books regardless, go for it, do whatever works best for you. You will all have a good grip on this after the first semester, guaranteed.

So after you decide what books you need, where do you get them?

I have bought my books from a variety of sources whether it was Amazon, Chegg or the University Store. Each has their ups and downs. Amazon and Chegg are great ways to get your textbooks and you can buy or rent from both. They are convenient and can be rush ordered, however you cannot forget to return rentals at the end of the semester. Chegg is even nice enough to call and leave an automated reminder on your cell phone. Depending on the book, you may have a little more difficulty finding it on this site as they are not related to Bloomsburg University, however I have gotten lucky so far!

The University Store is guaranteed to have all your textbook needs!

However, depending on how many books they have in stock and the number of students purchasing them, you can find yourself on a waiting list if you wait too long to purchase the book. I have been put on various waiting lists, and they are very efficient and the bookstore will email you as soon as your book is ready. In the meantime, meet a new classmate and ask to borrow theirs — making new friends is always great!

Also keep in mind that depending on your major and classes, some books will only be available to you at the University Store, such as a lab manual written by your professor. Like I said, don’t fear, you’ll get the hang of this pretty quickly.

The final aspect of buying textbooks — do you buy new, used or just rent it? 

This fully depends on what you’re trying to spend and what’s available. Buying new is almost always an option, but I promise those used books with a scratch or two have the same content inside. You can save up to half of the price by buying used and you can still sell it back at the end of the semester.

Rentals are a different story. These are even cheaper, however they must be returned at the end of the semester. I rent books if I’m running short on money at the textbook buying time, and it’s extremely helpful.

But how does returning those new and used books you bought work? 

When you buy a book from the University Store, you have the option of selling them to the bookstore or you can sell to a kiosk in town, such as Belltower. They are set up in various places that buy books back at competitive costs. It’s hard to say which is more profitable (for you) in the end, because it varies between books.

Unfortunately, sometimes a newer edition of your textbook comes out leaving yours worthless to these buyers. Always try multiple places to make sure you’re getting the best price possible. If you find you can’t get money at either store, you can always go on the Bloomsburg Class of 2018 Facebook page and see if any of your classmates need it. New editions usually don’t vary that much from the one before, and most professors won’t mind if you use it. I have also done this before, and it helps both you and your classmates out immensely.

Can you believe all these difficult decisions are almost over and you are soon finally going to be a college student? Enjoy this time in your life it goes too fast. I am embarking on my senior year and remember being in all of your shoes. Make smart decisions while you’re here, have fun and make the best of this life changing experience.

— Sierra Kern, Class of 2015 #HuskyLife

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