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Frustrating experience buying texts online


Replies to: Frustrating experience buying texts online

  • CountingDownCountingDown Registered User Posts: 13,100 Senior Member
    A bit of advice: make sure the book you order is coming from some place in the US...S2 ordered a book from Abe's Books online last year and never got here. We suspect it got hung up in customs. Was told to wait 30 days before they'd reprocess. Fat lot of good that did! Wound up paying full price from the bookstore just before the first exam.

    Lesson learned, I hope.
  • turbo93turbo93 Registered User Posts: 2,856 Senior Member
    My DD1's $140 math book was probably hand-signed by Euler himself (ok, maybe Riemann) and was shrink-wrapped like an adult magazine with the school's name in size 300 font and a homework web site account access card inside. No way to mail order this baby.

    Her 3 architecture theory books were only $150 or so, but these you don't find on the cheap mail order either way, save 10-15 dollars and wait for parts unknown.

    It's basically hit or miss... Some books are cheaper online but a lot are not.
  • sk8rmomsk8rmom Registered User Posts: 5,746 Senior Member
    There are a couple of other options that seldom get mentioned. The larger schools often have used bookstores nearby that cater to students and they usually offer significantly better pricing than on campus. My D's school also has an online student exchange run by the SA where students can post books, clickers, and even dorm room supplies/furniture for sale. As your son progresses, he may be able to simply swap books for a semester with someone who has taken the class before - mine do it frequently with their friends and it's been great for everyone.
  • arabrabarabrab Registered User Posts: 5,961 Senior Member
    And it is always ok to email the professor, and ask if an earlier edition of the book is ok. Sometimes it isn't, but fairly often it is fine. Sometimes websites like Rate My Professor give pretty good indications about whether a professor even uses the book, or how much. (Though I would only look at reviews for that specific class.)

    I think that the school-specific shrink-wrapped "text packages" are a ripoff, and students and their parents ought to complain to university administration. There is rarely a good reason to use them, and they cost students dearly.
  • stevensmamastevensmama Registered User Posts: 686 Member
    S's microeconomics professor, bless his heart, is using the 11th edition (2005) of a textbook that is currently on the 13th edition. He emailed the students several weeks ago to tell them that the bookstore is stocking the wrong edition. Bookstore price: $178.25 new, $133.75 used. I found the 11th edition on Amazon, in very good condition, for $1.16!
  • CreeklandCreekland Registered User Posts: 4,869 Senior Member
    We use Dealoz to find the best deals overall, then check ratings and condition carefully. It's been 2 years now and we've never had a problem with most of our purchases coming from half with a handful of others. This semester what would have cost be in excess of $900 via the bookstore (buying used when possible) cost a little over $300 including a couple that had to be bought at the bookstore.

    There's no way I'd switch to bookstore-only personally. Well, maybe if I had an unlimited budget, but I don't. One just has to be careful buying IMO - and have a college that doesn't pull the switch that the OP had to deal with. That would be annoying.
  • snapdragonflysnapdragonfly Registered User Posts: 646 Member
    Those professors who will concede to use a previous edition book are angels. My son's A&P professor said up to two past editions were fine. Found one used for 30 bucks. 300 for the latest edition, new. wow.
  • NJSueNJSue Registered User Posts: 2,840 Senior Member
    The OP's dilemma points out the importance of not buying textbooks too early. Wait as long as you can, even the first week of classes, to buy. Despite the new textbook law (which is unworkable because it does not take into account that staffing of sections is unstable right up to the beginning of the semester), there is still a realistic possibility that the posted required books will change.
  • jgotteachjgotteach Registered User Posts: 97 Junior Member
    I saved a couple of hundred dollars this fall over college bookstore prices by purchasing new books from Amazon, and used books through barnes and noble and half.com (Some of the sellers through half.com are actually off campus bookstores, and a quick internet search will turn up their phone numbers.) I had great luck this summer purchasing a new statistics book on half.com for a great price and then selling it at the end of the summer (also through half.com) for more than I paid for it!

    My son's college bookstore does post ISBN's, however, a couple were not posted until right before school started, and emails to the professors were not completely successful.

    Unfortunately, however, there were two textbooks that I had to bite the bullet on and pay full bookstore price. One was a physics book packaged with an online access code, and the other was a "custom" edition of a standard introductory poli sci book. The latter is particularly frustrating because, not only has it not arrived at the bookstore yet (two weeks into class), but can't be re-sold anywhere, unless the professor decides to use it again!
  • bluebayoubluebayou Registered User Posts: 25,670 Senior Member
    One was a physics book packaged with an online access code...

    The online access code can usually be purchased separately from the publisher. (Indeed, that is one way they support the sales of used books by the bookstore.) Thus, we purchase the text online and the access code direct.

    Yes, those so-called custom editions are a PIA.
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