Posted August 15, 2012
Buying college textbooks is a huge drain on the budget of a college
student. When you have five or six classes that all require textbooks
that retail for $200, the costs really start to add up. Buying books is
However, it doesn't have to be. You'll still part with a good bit of
cash for your textbooks, but it won't be quite as large as it could be.
Saving money on textbooks is all about knowing where to look. That brand
new $200 biology textbook is probably a lot cheaper somewhere else. You
don't necessarily have to buy it new.
If you do want to buy new, though, consider the official Ohio State
bookstore. The Barnes & Noble on High Street is OSU's official
The advantage of buying from them is that they carry almost every
book needed by Ohio State students. B&N also carries a significant
number of books in electronic form. The price for the e-version tends to
vary, so be sure to check if it's not cheaper to get the physical copy.
If you do order physical copies, Barnes & Noble can collect all the textbooks into one convenient package for pickup.
On the other hand, for students looking to buy used, the Internet
might be a better choice. Bookstore prices are determined by the
publisher and can be a bit high. Internet resellers, on the other hand,
have no such restrictions.
The best place to start when buying textbooks on the Internet is on
price comparison engines like BigWords.com and Affordabook.com.
Those two sites let you search for a specific book (use the IBSN
number) and find the price of that book at various sites across the
Internet. That way, you can compare prices and spend the least amount of
money for the correct textbook. The system works, too. For example,
"Introduction to Flight" by John D. Anderson, Jr. was $240 new from the
OSU bookstore. Using Affordabook, we found a new copy for $65.
Affordabook and BigWords work by searching several online retailers.
One of the largest retailers is Half.com, an offshoot of eBay
specializing in catering to college students. They sell and rent new and
used books. There's also a decent selection of DVDs, video games and
fictional books. The complete set of "A Song of Ice And Fire" is $17 on
Half. That's a hell of a deal considering that each of those five books
is roughly the same size and weight as the head of a small child.
If you're looking to rent a book, Chegg.com is probably your best
bet. They rent textbooks by the semester. Just mail it back once you're
done. The books do come with some serious highlighting, though.
For those of you who don't want to buy a textbook at all, there are a
few options. Most college libraries carry certain textbooks. You can
check those out for studying. Friends are another option. If you're
taking the same class, then sharing a single textbook is an option.
If you get really desperate, there is one other option. This should
be treated as a last resort, something you do only after burning through
all the available cash. Yes, that includes beer money.
The Pirate Bay has a decent selection of etextbooks you can download
to read on a laptop or tablet. Because of the way that torrents work,
they only have the most popular textbooks (e.g. ones you'd use in
general education classes). Don't abuse this option.
The best way to work through all these different ways to buy
textbooks is to assemble a list of the necessary books and compare
The Ohio State Barnes & Noble website has a tool that will do
that for you. Copy the IBSNs from the results page and use them to find
the best prices available. If nothing else, it should save you a few
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