College Textbooks Online: Your Options
As you enter college, you will have to make many adjustments and find many resources. Some of the major needs that you will encounter are textbooks. Most of your classes will require textbooks, novels, lab books and other texts.
Finding these and paying for them will occupy much of your time. Fortunately, if you can identify the books that you need, you should be able to find easier and less expensive ways to pay for them.
• Science Texts
These will probably be the biggest and most expensive texts that you will need. This is important to know if you are going to be a science major in school.
If you are merely going to take one science class in order to major in another subject, then you might be justified in spending less on a text that will not be as useful to you.
Examples of science texts include subjects like astronomy, physics and chemistry. These will most likely be the biggest and the most expensive if you buy them new. The social sciences will also sell similar textbooks for subjects such as psychology, anthropology and sociology.
• Lab Books
Many science classes are also laboratory classes. You will need to meet in special labs with or without your professor, perform experiments or do other lab work and record the results in your lab books.
Such classes always require textbooks as well. While it is possible to avoid or reduce the cost of textbooks in some cases, you will probably not be able to do this with lab books. You will need to buy them and use them without the opportunity for resale.
• College Level Literature Books
Other classes will require a different sort of text. Courses in the Humanities and English will often require you to buy novels, volumes of poetry, collections of short stories and other books.
These texts are usually smaller in terms of size and weight than science texts. However, they can be fairly pricey. Fortunately, you will have some options with these texts that may allow you to avoid most or even all of the cost.
• History and Other Non-Fiction
Many courses will also require biographies, historical documents and other non-fiction texts. These may not compare to science texts in expense but they may be more numerous and less easy to sell back.
• Math Texts
Many math courses will require a specific text due to the way that it presents mathematical equations and problems. These texts, like science books, will be among the most expensive of your college career.
• Foreign Language Books
Most colleges require you to get some sort of foreign language instruction. Your foreign language books will not be as expensive as many of your other books. You may also be able to find ways around paying for them, depending on the college and the instructor.
Textbooks can be a very expensive part of your education. The prices of these books have been going up significantly in recent years, just like the prices of tuition at most universities.
However, while you cannot do much about the price of tuition at your school of choice, you do have many choices in how much you pay for the books that you need for your classes.
• Buy New
The most traditional option is also the most expensive. However, as the path of least resistance, many people still choose to buy their textbooks through the university bookstore on campus or through the same store online.
There is a certain reassurance in this. You know that you will get the right book and you will know where to take it back if you resell it. However, you will pay a lot of money when there are many better options out there for you.
• Buy Used
Fortunately, even right at the same bookstore, you may be able to find some copies of the text that you need in used condition. Used books sell for much lower prices and usually their used condition is not an issue.
After all, you are just looking for the words and graphs and it does not matter if the book is in perfect condition. Your education will not be affected and you may save some money that you will be able to spend on something else.
• Sell Back
Whether you buy used or new, you can often sell textbooks back to the bookstore. They will either give you cash on the spot or they will give you store credit that you can apply to your next round of textbooks.
• Buy Online
The Internet is allowing many students to get around the heavy cost of textbooks by utilizing online stores that sell the same books at much lower prices. Since your textbooks are often so expensive, even at reduced prices, many companies will not charge shipping.
There are only a couple difficulties associated with this practice. First, you will need to provide very accurate information about the book in the form of the ISBN number. It is not as easy as just clicking on the link on the university website when you sign up for the class and order the textbook. Second, you will have to wait a few days for the book to arrive in the mail.
However, these problems are far outweighed by the savings that you will achieve. Furthermore, your wait will only be a few days and is often quicker than the period needed for the campus bookstore to deliver items that are out of stock.
• Buy Digital Versions
If the books that you purchase online take a while to arrive, many of the companies that sell them will make them available in digital form while you wait. This is not as convenient, perhaps, as having them in your hands but you at least have access to the information if your class begins before the books come in the mail.
Furthermore, you can often buy the books in this digital version if that is permissible for your course. Some professors may take issue with using an electronic device to consult your book in class. However, those days are mostly behind us as the Internet provides more solutions.
• Don’t Buy the Textbook!
In some classes, you may even be able to avoid buying the textbook altogether. For example, for an English class about 19th century American Literature, you can probably find the texts online for free.
The most important thing that you can do is be aware of your options. This will make it possible for you to save real money while getting an education.