College and graduate school classes are starting soon. Have you bought your books?
If not, don’t use the campus bookstore.
You can find cheap college books in many places, other than the single store your university is hoping you’ll use. Since you’re already living on a shoestring budget, you need to save money wherever possible. Buying used, cheap textbooks is a great way to cut your educational costs.
Cheap book websites
BookByte is my favorite used book website. They have a huge selection of books, and they even offer study guides and supplies. You could probably buy everything that you need in one visit to their site.
BetterWorld Books provides a great shopping option for the socially conscious consumer. They ship your books for free anywhere in the United States, and they offset the shipping environmental costs through CarbonFund. They also host book drives to provide books and funding for literacy programs. To date, they have donated over $4 million and 11 million books. Incredible!
Biblio is another book site, much like Bookbyte. They also have a good assortment of rare and out-of-print books.
Tips for used textbooks
You do need to be careful when buying used textbooks online. They’re cheap college books, but it’s not always easy to find the correct edition for your course. To ensure that you buy the best discount books, follow these tips.
Photo by limonada
Compile a list – You need a comprehensive list of all your required college textbooks. Some university bookstores have an online book list, but you may have to go to the campus bookstore. Write out your list with the course, professor, and books required. For the books, be sure to note the title, author, and edition.
Check it twice – Seriously. You need to make sure your list is accurate. You don’t want to buy a textbook for the wrong course.
Look for your books – When you’re shopping at a site like BookByte, you can search for books by ISBN, title, author, or even keyword. The ISBN is your most accurate locator, but a title / author search can usually work as well.
Verify the edition – For every book that you locate, double check the edition! I cannot stress that enough. If a book seller doesn’t list the edition, you can try to call to find out. But you can most likely find the same book somewhere else that does list the edition.
Ask your professor – If you found a really cheap book that is an older edition, you can always ask the professor if that edition will work. Most professors have taught their courses for years, and they know what changes have been made to the book editions. Some will say that an older edition is fine, and others will not. It never hurts to ask.
Sell your college books
When you’re done with a college textbook, you should consider selling it back to get some cash. You won’t recover everything you paid for it, but every bit helps.
I’ve written two comprehensive articles on selling used college books. Some of the same sites above (like BookByte) will buy your books back from you, no matter where you got them.
This is my basic tutorial that shows how easy it is to sell your books online.
If you want to take it to another level, check out my post on maximizing your textbook cash.
Top photo by fofurasfelinas
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