Textbooks

<p>Sorry if this question has been asked a million times, but how much should I expect to spend on textbooks? And what's the deal with selling them back and whatnot? Will I get my money back or should I expect to take a loss? Thanks!</p>

<p>It's extremely varied (I know, that's the usual answer). Your first year you will probably be using textbooks in all of your classes, because you'll be mostly taking intro classes that cover a wide swath of material. As you advance, if you study something in the humanities, you'll probably be using fewer textbooks and more primary sources (essays, books, novels), paperback sources, and material provided by the professor either as a packet or posted online, so it gets significantly cheaper. If you study sciences, you will probably be using textbooks the whole way through. If you study English, you're going to have to buy a Riverside Shakespeare at some point and that costs a LOT. If you're taking a language class, you may not be able to buy a used book in the bookstore, because people write in their language books for exercises. </p>

<p>In the bookstore, you'll have the choice between new and used books. The new books obviously are more expensive. The bookstore may also run out of some books if a class is large or popular, and you'll have to order it, probably at the new price. Your sophomore-senior year you'll know what your classes are well in advance, and you'll thus have more time to shop around for textbooks and see if you can get a better deal online if you're so inclined. My parents covered the cost of my books so I just saved myself the hassle and bought them in the bookstore. Your first year, I would not recommend trying to shop online for books, unless you know you won't need the book until later in the semester. Your first few weeks are going to be stressful enough without adding the additional stress of trying to price and order textbooks. </p>

<p>I do STRONGLY recommend that you refrain from buying your textbooks until you have actually been to each of your classes, read the syllabus, and made 100% sure you won't be switching classes. The first two weeks of the year, during the "shopping period" where you can add and drop classes at will, the bookstore will let you return books for a full refund, but save yourself the hassle and just wait until you're pretty fixed on your schedule before buying. </p>

<p>A couple of ways to save money: Some people like to save money by sharing textbooks with a friend, classmate, housemate, or roommate. They buy one book and split the cost and then share it. I know people who have done it, I've never liked this arrangement personally because I liked my textbook to be available to me whenever I needed it and I didn't usually have classes with my housemates. Another way to save money, if you're in a class where you don't need the textbook for every assignment, is to use the reserve copy of the book in the library. The library keeps 1 copy of pretty much every textbook on reserve behind the circulation counter. Students can check the copy out for 3 hours at a time (I think it was 3, anyway, it's time limited), after which they incur big fines for being late. Textbook reserves are great for classes where you have a textbook, but the teacher doesn't really teach from it, and you only need it maybe once or twice during the semester for specific assignments (I've been in only one of these classes). Or if you lose your textbook and you need something temporarily. Or if you haven't bought your textbook yet. But there's no garauntee the reserve book will be ready when you need it.</p>

<p>You will never make your money back selling back your textbooks. You should definitely expect to take a loss. Depending on what you're selling back and how much they want that textbook, you may take a big loss or a not so big one. If you're using the 3rd edition of a book and a 4th edition is being published in the fall, you may get nothing back for your book, but the bookstore will still recycle it for you. The nice thing about those expensive, hardcover textbooks is that they fetch a higher price.</p>

<p>You can guesstimate by checking out grecourtbookshop.com and searching for the classes you plan on taking. Note that the prices on the website are the sticker price, so you may get a better measure by searching ISBN numbers elsewhere (Amazon, etc.).</p>

<p>I definitely agree with S&P to wait until the first class session for each class before you buy your books. I know people who have bought books only to read the syllabus and realize that it's only going to be used for 2-3 classes total, for which you can easily borrow from the library or one of the 5-college libraries or take it out for a few hours on reserve.</p>

<p>Also, buy online. Seriously. You can get free 2-day shipping from Amazon as a student for a year and then keep it at a reduced price ($40 a year). It's completely worth it.</p>

<p>As a more subject-specific rule, though, I'd say you can expect to buy the (usually just one or two) textbooks for sciences, math and foreign language, because you'll be using them for weekly readings and assignments. Whereas in humanities most of the time you can borrow from the library or a friend or the house library, especially if it's a very common novel or religious text.</p>

<p>Remember to utilize the upperclassmen, especially in the sciences. Often, they are willing to lend or sell you the books from classes they have already taken. This has saved me tons of money; one semester I spent a total of $20 on books, and that was all for a literature class.</p>

<p>The bookstore also has a "rental" program with some books. My daughter said she got 2 books that way. They were about half the cost of a new book. The books then have to be returned before the last day of the semester or students are charged new book price, plus, she thought, a penalty.</p>

<p>Also, ask your professors to put a copy in the library on reserve. Math profs are super willing to do it, and then you won't need to buy a book. Just photocopy what you need</p>