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Getting Your Textbooks - Should You Buy, Rent, Borrow, or What?

Tips for getting your textbooks from MARIA CARRASCO, one of our Campus Bound Scholar Peer Mentors who is a junior at SUNY Albany.

Here are some tips for buying textbooks. Wait for the first week of classes to determine if you need a textbook. Some professors say that textbooks are “required”, then as the semester goes on you find out that you didn’t even open your $200 textbook once. It is also good to wait to buy them, just in case you decide to drop a class early. Maybe it didn’t interest you, or whatever the case may be, sometimes things change.

So first, I advise students to wait, but if reading is your preferred method of studying, then I suggest first googling your textbook to see if there is free PDF version online. If it isn’t available, I suggest buying a used book or renting a copy. I have always used Amazon, but sometimes your bookstore might be better to rent from, because it can be easily returned. It just may be more pricey in some cases. Personally renting is my preference, if I only need the book for one semester. E-text is also another option.

Another popular website students can use is Chegg. Then there are websites that compares prices from multiple sites, such as Slugbooks. If you are using a website that you have not heard of before, I suggest looking up reviews to see if it is legitimate, in order to avoid scams. Some professors may also have a discounted package you can buy with a code that they will provide.

Try not to buy a new textbook, unless an access code is required for an online assignment website. If you are just buying a used copy, the access code in most cases has been used already. Sometimes you can buy an access code on it’s own, but it usually doesn’t come with the book or an e-text, so you may have to also buy a used copy. I have bought an access code through Amazon before, but make sure you read the terms and agreements, before doing so. If the course is using an access code, there is usually a 2 week grace period that you can use the database for free. Again I advise taking advantage of this 2 week grace period, just in case you do decide to drop the class or find a better price.

Your school library may have a copy of your textbook, but it’s not always guaranteed that the book will always be available. This is a good option if you think you are only going to need the book a couple of times. Be advised it might be checked out if there are big assignments or exams coming up. Lastly, if your school has a Class Social Media page there are always people selling a variety of textbooks for a discounted amount. There are also many different ways you can get textbooks, these are just some of the methods that I found that have worked for me. I hope this has helped you in anyway.


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