<p>Is it often possible to find a used book on amazon.com etc.? I know some books with electronic resources cant be bought used.</p>
<p>Honestly, it's going to vary widely depending on what you're taking, etc. You should absolutely buy used books if you can find them on Amazon for a good deal, though sometimes you have to be careful. Some things to keep in mind for keeping book costs down:</p>
<p>1) Textbooks are the most expensive books. In the SFS, textbooks are most common for econ classes (and languages, but with languages you generally just have to suck it up and buy the book). Some econ textbooks run as high as $150-$200 each. You should consider seriously whether you need to buy them. I had econ textbooks that I literally never opened. Most of the professors don't rely on them, and instead use them as a way that you can catch up on things you didn't understand. If you can borrow one from a friend, that's usually good enough. Also, unless you will be assigned problem sets or something out the book, you can generally get away with an older edition ( basic economics doesn't change that much from year to year and 95% of the book stays the same from edition to edition). Go to a used book site, e.g. Abebooks, and find the previous edition, you can often get it for $1 plus shipping.
2) For non-textbooks, which at the SFS will be most of your books, you can find most of them used from a variety of outlets: Amazon, Ebay, used bookstores, Abebooks, etc. and generally cheap. You'll often be assigned books for which there are many different versions (for example, there are hundreds of editions of Thucydides, which is a favorite read in the SFS). Find out if you need the exact edition or not - some profs will require it. Also, try to look at syllabi and see how much you'll use it. ALl of these books are in the library, and if there are just 2 or 3 readings out of a book, you can always just do those with a library book.
3) Don't assume that anyone place (especially the bookstore) has the best deal. Start your research early. As soon as you know what classes you have, you start looking into books - though sometimes you'll want to wait until the class meets before actually committing money.
4) Ask around about books. You never know who might have a copy of the book you need: your sister/brother, your parents, your roommate, etc. Obviously, borrowing a copy will be much cheaper than buying
5) What's your book style? Do you highlight? Underline? Write notes in the margins? Does it bother you if someone else has done those things to a book you're trying to read? You may find that you need relatively clean copies of your books, and it's worth $10 more for a clean copy than being annoyed all semester.
6) How do you feel about ebooks? Sometimes eBooks, or Kindle books (if you have one) are a lot cheaper, but there are upsides and downsides. Also, some books are available in their entirety on Google book search (particularly older ones). You can't beat free as a price for something on Google book search, and particularly if you only need to read limited portions, it can be the way to go.
7) Photocopying costs 10 cents per page most places. So, if a book costs $50 and you need 100 pages of it, then you save $40 by borrowing the book from a friend/from a library, and photocpying those pages. </p>
<p>Anyway, I'm sure others have their own tips, but those are the ones I could think of. As for an average cost of books, well like I said upfront it varies. I'd say that freshman year I spent about $350/semester. As my book needs changed (shifting away from textbooks) and I got better at buying used, that went down gradually to about $170 last semester.</p>
<p>By the way, if you know what you're taking, you can start looking at books here: <a href="http://www.bkstr.com/CategoryDisplay/10001-9604-11006-1?demoKey=d%5B/url%5D">http://www.bkstr.com/CategoryDisplay/10001-9604-11006-1?demoKey=d</a></p>