Confused about Buying Textbooks

<p>Okay, so we attended Orientation last week and at the end were given a nice fat bill along with his course schedule. We were then told we could order our books straight away, actually while we were there, and they would be ready for pickup when they arrived in August.<br>
However, I'm finding the books for a good bit less than the prices I'm seeing at the University Book Store AND I'm reading some articles/forums that say it is better to actually wait until the class starts to see exactly what the Prof will require.
What say you?</p>

<p>I did already save about $75 buying the Ti 84 Plus Calculator online instead of in the bookstore....</p>

<p>We haven't done the bookstore in quite some time. If you have the ISBN numbers, check out half.com and textbooks.com. We get much better deals there. We go ahead and order the books for the classes before they start. If the student drops the course, we can just re-sell it. Other people prefer to wait to see whether they will keep or drop the class, and whether the prof. will actually use the book.</p>

<p>Buy the books cheap. Just make sure that you have the right edition, unless you are deliberately taking a gamble on a previous edition.</p>

<p>But I would definitely have the books for the first week of class. I don't want to start out behind.</p>

<p>We did the pre-order and kid just picks it up thing when both S's were freshmen.
After the first sem. we didn't do it anymore.<br>
Last summer I found great prices on used books through Amazon.</p>

<p>I always buy my books on amazon and sell them back that way. For real textbooks I usually make a profit when I sell them back. For novels or other paperback kind of books, you get those so cheap it's not even really worth it to sell them back.</p>

<p>It is in theory a good idea to wait until you get to class to see what books you need, but since I will not buy at bookstore prices I can't really do that unless I am willing to go without a book for the first two weeks or so of class, which is NOT an option-- many classes start into the book on the first day. I find it safer to just sell the book back right away if I find out I don't need it. That's never actually happened to me, I've always used the books I've bought. Waiting is really only practical if you can go right out after class and buy the book in store.</p>

<p>adding my two cents as a professor:</p>

<p>If you can get the ISBNs and edition information for the books in advance, it is well worth it to check out on-line sites like others have mentioned. You might very well save a bundle. But make sure you order the texts with enough lag time to arrive before the first day of class: Some professors (such as myself) expect their students to have the text on the first day and do assign graded homework on the first day.</p>

<p>If you're not sure of the ISBN or edition, you could email the professor---particularly if the class is not a huge, 100+ student lecture class.</p>

<p>I will second Amazon. Make sure you have the ISBN. You will get a listing of the books being offered for sale, the price, and condition. The ones that are 'like new' probably never left the students shelf! We have done this for college classes as well as hs AP classes to have a second set of textbooks at home.</p>

<p>Always have the text the first day, even if that means paying full price. As the prof stated above, and we have usually found, you hit the ground running in many classes and are expected to be prepared.</p>

<p>If you DO decide to go with the campus bookstore, call and ask if they have an option to request a used copy whenever one is available. We did this S1's first semester. The original bill was for the new prices for all books. We were able to get used books and saved quite a bit. The prices for used books are still better online.</p>

<p>Good luck!! :)</p>

<p>Another professor here. It irritates me to no end to have students e-mail to see if I am really planning to use the text and if they should actually buy it. Since I teach at a small institution and I'm generally the only faculty member teaching the course, the answer is yes, I plan to use it. I'm not so insensitive to the prices of textbooks that I order things that won't be utilized. It is also essential that students acquire the text before the start of the semester or if they're a late add, before the second class meeting.
I strongly concur with those recommending amazon.com. I'm starting to openly encourage my students to use this option even though our campus gets a cut of the profits from our Barnes & Noble owned bookstore.</p>

<p>The university where I work has that option - they will pull all the books for a student based on their schedule and their preference for new vs used and have it ready for pick-up. If you have tons of money and want to save time, that's a nice service.</p>

<p>Unfortunately, I don't have much money so we shop around for the best prices. My daughter has an app on her phone where she takes a photo of the ISBN and then it looks for the best price.</p>

<p>There is a new law that requires universities to provide the ISBNs with the class schedule so students can determine if they want to take a class and have access to the book requirements. I don't know when it takes effect, but we had to add a link to our class search for the ISBN look-up (I work in IT).</p>

<p>For a summer sch. course last summer the campus bookstore price for the textbook was $120...for eight weeks of sum. sch????<br>
I ordered the book fr. Amazon brand new (the class called for the newest edition) at $70.</p>

<p>At the end of the summer session, S2 sold the book to the campus bookstore for $30.<br>
They didn't care that it wasn't bought at their store since they needed used ones to sell for Fall sem.</p>

<p>At S2's big state u. bookstore website, you can look up the classes and they will display the books needed and the ISBN #'s.</p>

<p>To the prof's posting above, we have found (at 3 different schools) that many profs put in a textbook requirement because the department/school makes them and they do not use the text AT ALL! This is obviously expensive and annoying to the student and their family, so please thank your colleagues for all those annoying emails! At my D's school, 50% of her profs did not use the book...luckily, we had garnered this info from ratemyprofessor.com and did not buy it. The kids who did were not happy as most of these were new editions costing over $150. We were very thankful that a few profs sent out an email in advance notifiying students that textbook readings would not be required for the class as they were using other online materials (which require a subscription).</p>

<p>I always look up the required text on univ. bookstore website, get the numbers, have D check her syllabus if available before the class starts, and then shop online. Reselling privately or through amazon is almost always better than at the bookstore.</p>

<p>Another price-sensitive prof here (more so now that I'm footing the bill for my own college kids' texts!). I've been trying to place copies of any required book that costs more than $25 on reserve at the library so that people who really can't afford them can still have access to the information. HOWEVER, the student has to be disciplined enough to drag themselves over to the library and get the reading done ... for some, it's worth the extra cost to have the convenience of the book available in their snug, cosy cinderblock dorm room on a stormy winter's night.</p>

<p>Since we have to buy my high school kids books (for years now) -- our family has become fairly savvy about used book sales. All these textbooks (college, high school) are essentially coming from the same suppliers, so these places and tips should work for you:
alibris.com, half.com (this is part of ebay), cheapesttextbooks.com are also viable options. They all serve as portals for used book stores and make it pretty easy to search for the cheapest and least damaged version of the textbook you need to locate. You will start to see the overlaps between the used booksellers at Amazon, alibris, half, and cheapesttextbooks. Buy books early in the process (as soon as your prof. makes the required text(s) ISBN codes available) so you get the best price. Alibris and half.com also have coupon codes available to you if you sign up for their email list -- alibris.com recently had a $15.00 off $100 purchase available, so look for codes. Also, watch the shipping costs -- sometimes excessive shipping costs will negate your online savings. As with amazon.com, you can get super saver shipping at most portal sites if you don't mind waiting for books. Buy as many as you can at the same time, and try to purchase most of your books from the same supplier (important when using used book portals, where there are many, many suppliers all selling the same books.) Naturally, the more you can buy from the same bookseller the better your overall shipping costs will be. Use the "wishlists" to help compile your choices and compare suppliers.
Save a tree when you can -- buy USED or even an e-book version when possible. Need a novel? The "classics" may even be available free online somewhere (Project Gutenberg has many titles -- don't need a Kindle for these!)
Good luck -- you will save a bundle if you are patient.</p>

<p>Half.com buyer/seller here. Both my S' buy online at Amazon or half.com, then I resell at end of semester. Sometimes, not always, the books sell for same or more than I paid, so textbooks aren't a real expense for us. DO NOT buy new from campus book stores. They are major ripoff.</p>

<p>What the professors said.</p>

<p>Take advantage of the course reserve! There are copy machines around the library if your student needs the book longer or doesn't want to bother with the time limit (usually 3-4 hours).</p>

<p>In the second semester when your student gets to know some people better, s/he may be able to search out another student in the class who may be interested in sharing a book for the course. </p>

<p>These two above methods requires a lot of discipline but the reading/problem sets get done.</p>

<p>When students "claim" that the professors never used the book, actually CHECK the syllabus. That's how I decide whether to buy the book new or used, or just use the reserve. If you don't see a text being used for required reading, go for the course reserve. It's there as a SUPPLEMENT to the lectures and readings.</p>

<p>My professors, especially in my graduate courses, were very conscious of how often they used the books and their prices. One actually told us that one of the books was $120 and how he was upset that he couldn't find any other alternative as it was recently published for the first time. What did I do? I used the library reserve and had to share time with another student. One professor spoke with me about her syllabus for the following year for the same course to determine which books were worth buying and photocopying to put on Blackboard. A couple of professors went as far as to photocopy the vast majority of a book without breaking copyright laws and posted them on Blackboard. (Thankfully they had their graduate students to do all the grunt work).</p>

<p>If you are very conscious about prices and value, I would try to get my hands on used copies for as many of the books possible. If you wind up with a pricey book or two, then wait until the first day of class or the syllabus shows up online to determine how much use it's going to get. Also, your student may be able to find upperclassmen looking to sell introductory level books.</p>

<p>Our campus requires us to classify texts as required or optional when book orders are submitted. I web enhance all of my classes and try to open my course shells a week or so before classes begin so students can familiarize themselves with the syllabus and the expectation that they must acquire the text and homework code in a timely manner. I also e-mail those registered in the course at the time of that expectation and I encourage students to utlize the library and amazon.com or half.com where possible.</p>

<p>In my discipline a text is absolutely required as we work a significant quantity of end of chapter problems in class, but I have also established an automated homework requirement which necessitates that students buy a code to access the publisher's website. While this does add to the cost of instructional materials, the feedback I got from students last year was that the homework site was rich with supplementary material (videos, study guide, audio lectures, etc.) and that it enhanced their grades. Since I teach cc students and their overall analytical abilities are often not as developed as I would like, I would prefer that they spend an extra $40 on this type of homework tool in addition to the book if it increases their chance of persistence in the class and doesn't force them to drop/retake later with more tuition/fees.</p>

<p>I guess I'm trying to say that most professors are senstive to the costs of books and try to be responsible within the current parameters of texbook publishing. I know it doesn't benefit anyone who is buying texts currently (and I'm still doing this for my older 3L student who doesn't sell them back), but the landscape for texbooks is going to change dramatically in the next few years. Flat World Knowledge, a firm that makes texts available for free online and available for a relatively small fee for download, is gaining ground, as are e-readers. Another model that is meeting some success is the 4LTR Press model of selling students a paperback text for $59.95 that includes a homework code that accesses a rich array of internet material on top of what is in the magazine formatted text. This seems to be working well for introductory courses.</p>

<p>Agree that the key is the ISBN numbers. Prices vary widely and discount books can be a HUGE savings, covering the exact same material. Our S took care of purchasing all his books on-line. 1st semester, we just bought a lot of them for full-price at the university bookstore. Thereafter, he took over & has saved himself & us a lot of $$$.</p>

<p>I also use abebooks.com. Be sure to put a note that you DO NOT want instructor's editions.</p>

<p>Out of 15 classes with a book, I've bought 2 (both for the same class). One was a lab book, one was a course pack. I download them, borrow them reserve from the library, and borrow them from other people. If you want to save money, you really do not need to buy the books.</p>

<p>a few thoughts on online textbook buying:</p>

<p>1) buy your textbooks as early as possible. thanks to abundant supply and limited demand, online prices are SIGNIFICANTLY better right now than they will be in august.</p>

<p>2) try to buy from mid-sized sellers with good feedback (yearly feedback in the hundreds with 98%+ positive on amazon, for example). youll be far more likely to get an item as described in a timely fashion... and if there is an issue, youll be more likely to have a positive return/refund experience, too.</p>

<p>3) be aware of your rights as a buyer. for example, amazon gives you 30 days to return any book purchase from a third party merchant so long as it is in the same condition as received. restocking fees are often ZERO and cannot exceed 15%. further, amazons a-z program guarantees a return of funds if the item never arrives or does not arrive as described.</p>

<p>(amazon is not alone in having such buyer protection programs, mind you.)</p>

<p>4) use a book price comparison site to find the best deals. unless the books being purchased are inexpensive (popular novels, hackett classics, etc), it is unlikely that any potential savings realized from combined shipping on a site like half.com (amazon does not offer combined shipping discounts) will result in a better overall deal than going with the cheapest individual options. allbookstores.com is a good one for textbooks and will search amazon, half.com, abe, alibris, several textbook sites and the rental companies.</p>

<p>5) dont forget about your local options. it is not uncommon that it will make more sense to just buy cheap books at the student book store. paying $7 for a used novel certainly beats paying $3 plus $4 shipping for the same book when you consider the ease of the transaction. local new and used book stores can be great places to check for these kinds of books, as well.</p>

<p>6) IF a book is being ordered within two or even three weeks of when it will be needed, PLEASE upgrade to expedited shipping. media mail is the LAST thing on the truck. as a result, it can end up being really, really slow. </p>

<p>7) try to find out if a generally included online access code or content cd will be needed prior to ordering used books online. the cheapest options will rarely have either.</p>