How to save on textbooks

It's time to buy textbooks. Students such as Davis senator Tyler Hall, above, are getting in ahead of the crowd to buy books early.  (Kaitlyn Johnson / The Signpost)
It’s time to buy textbooks. Students such as Davis senator Tyler Hall, above, are getting in ahead of the crowd to buy books early.
(Kaitlyn Johnson / The Signpost)

It’s the fall semester, and the sound of groaning can be heard from both students and their wallets. There’s not much you can do about the price of tuition, but there are a few options for buying your textbooks. Before you go out and sell your kidney, here are a few tips to help you save money this semester.

Wait until you have attended all classes

I know that every syllabi says the following phrase “the following texts are required for class” but the best thing to do is to wait until you go to class and ask your professors if the book is really required. More often than not, they will help you save money by saying no.

Also think about what kinds of classes you are taking. Lab-based classes mean you must buy the lab manual, no buts. Always make sure to check the edition of your textbook. Sometimes a certain edition is required, and if you grab the wrong book before asking, your semester could get a lot more difficult.

Shop around

When you go out to buy a car, you would never just stop at one dealership and say “this is the only place I will shop.” Loyalty is one thing, but more often than not, it won’t save you money. As you look at books, explore your options. The best thing to do is take the ISBN number (not the book title) and plug it into the computer. That will help you learn what deals are available.

If you have no idea what an ISBN number is, or have a dislike for doing work, the WSU bookstore has a solution. Starting up this semester, the bookstore has a price comparison tool that helps you shop around. Ben Taylor, marketing manager for the bookstore, explained the reason behind the new tool. “We want students to shop smarter and find the best value,” he said. “We know we may not have the lowest price, but we will work to find you the best deal possible and get the books that students need.”

Renting is best

Back to that car analogy, unless you are sitting on a giant stack of cash, buying a new car is never the option. The same should be said for your major textbooks. After you have asked your professors whether or not you actually need the book, ask them if you really need the newest edition. More often than not, the older editions are available to study from, and many professors don’t care which one you use. 

Another tip, you more than likely will never read that book after you have finished the class. That being the case, rent should not be a word you only use at the end of each month. Renting saves dollars and bookshelf space. It is always better to rent. And if you can’t rent, at least get a used version for a much cheaper price.

Share books as a group

Want to make friends and gain a support group with each class? Share a book as a partnership or group. You can split the cost and have a study-buddy to help you when it gets tough. If this is the option you choose, make sure to create a plan to share it equally.

Phone a friend

If you take a class, ask you friends if they have taken it and if they still have the book. If they like you, they might sell it to you at an insanely cheap price. If they love you, they will just give it to you for free . . . or let you borrow it. Either way, unless they remember that time when you totally left the party with that one girl, they will make sure that you save money or get the best price possible.