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Thread: College Textbook Buying

  1. #1
    American since 2012 Senior Member AntiochusIII's Avatar
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    Default College Textbook Buying

    AntiochusIII needs advice!

    To keep it short, practically, I'm a n00b at everything college. And as for the topic at hand, the only advice that I heard (and adhered to) is to buy used book if I can. Of course, I bought every "required" books they say I'll need, just like a good Freshman (though I refuse to buy "recommended" ones). Now that first semester is over (with surprisingly good grades, huh) and the second about to begin, I've learned a few things about textbooks; namely:

    - a few teachers never ever use them.

    - sometimes I can get away with not even buying one, even if listed as "required." Just pretend that you're one of those smart people who can get away with this kind of stuff. And the internet is a big place. Besides, I'm a Freshman. The classes I take are nowhere near as deep and complex as some of the higher ones.

    - but some ARE required and used.
    _____________________________

    However, there are a lot of things this young Padawan has yet to learn, and here I am begging the bOrg for collective advice!

    - I've looked around the 'net a bit, and find that apparently Amazon has a few books listed cheaper that what might be in the bookstore. Question is: is it safe, financially? (Now, I never bought online from "private" vendors before, but I'm not that dumb; the basics of online marketplaces aren't completely lost on me. Sometimes). Will I be able to turn the textbooks back into the Uni bookstore if I didn't buy it from them? Or do I need to reuse Amazon?

    And if I need to reuse Amazon, will I be able to sell it back to the vendor (if the vendor's not a private person, but a company using Amazon's service) or do I need to do some haggling on my own? I have zero "ratings" as a vendor of course and a perfect zero experience, though I do admit I tend to care for the textbooks a great deal. Some more used than others, but none highlighted, none annihilated by vicious treatment.

    - Any tips on how to find out whether each so-called "required" book is actually required prior to actually being there?

    - Is it a better idea to buy used books now anyway or wait until I'm actually in class (and know which ones I need) and risk having to buy brand-new ones because they're out of the used books?

    - Any random tips from the Masters? This one is eager to learn.

  2. #2
    Bureaucratically Efficient Senior Member TinCow's Avatar
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    Default Re: College Textbook Buying

    Here's a tip for you:

    If you're short on money and this is really an issue for you, don't buy any books that you suspect might not be used constantly. Every book should have at least one copy available in your library. If there isn't a copy, you should ask the professor to put one in the library. I have never known a professor who would refuse to do this. Then all you need to do is check out that book whenever it is needed. If you find you are using it a great deal and checking it out is inconvenient, you'll know you need to buy it. If you never check it out or only do so infrequently, you'll know you don't need to buy it.


  3. #3
    American since 2012 Senior Member AntiochusIII's Avatar
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    Default Re: College Textbook Buying

    Thx.

    Money is somewhat of an issue but not a serious one: if I have to pay, I can pay, no matter how much. The thing is, the one who's paying isn't me, but my parents, and considering I'm a full-time student with no jobs, I want to save their money as best as I could.

    Thanks for the advice! I'll take a trip to the Uni library and see what they've got in there before buying.

    I still need advice on the Amazon/buying through the internet issue though. It seems a viable alternative, but with everything, I suspect caveats.

  4. #4
    Bureaucratically Efficient Senior Member TinCow's Avatar
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    Default Re: College Textbook Buying

    One thing to keep in mind about using the Library as a substitute is that you can sometimes find the books checked-out by other students in your class who are doing the same thing. If you know you're going to need the book for something, best to take it out ASAP so that you don't find yourself needing it immediately when it's not available.


  5. #5
    Medical Welshman in London. Senior Member Big King Sanctaphrax's Avatar
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    Default Re: College Textbook Buying

    Of course, I bought every "required" books they say I'll need, just like a good Freshman
    That was a mistake. A lot of university reading lists are just money-making schemes for lecturers who have written books. My advice is that, before you make any further purchases, consult with a student in one of the years above you and find out which texts are really useful.

    As far as Amazon marketplace sellers go, I've used them a lot and they've always been solid. If you want some peace of mind, look at their feedback ratings. You could also try the Facebook network for your university-they have a feature on there for people to sell on unwanted text-books, and you probably don't need the absolutely latest edition.
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  6. #6
    Prince Louis of France (KotF) Member Ramses II CP's Avatar
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    Default Re: College Textbook Buying

    It can be extremely useful to make friends with people who are taking classes you plan to take next quarter/semester/whatever. On several occassions I was able to 'return' expensive books or purchase them at even below 'used' prices. I'm sure I don't need to explain how this works or why it's not well looked on by local bookstores.

    Once you get beyond your non-major requirement classes I would recommend keeping most of the textbooks unless they're overlapping or clearly unecessary. It never hurts to have more books.


  7. #7
    American since 2012 Senior Member AntiochusIII's Avatar
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    Default Re: College Textbook Buying

    Quote Originally Posted by Big King Sanctaphrax
    That was a mistake. A lot of university reading lists are just money-making schemes for lecturers who have written books.
    Heh, I learned that the hard way. My University Bookstore (the on-campus, official one that contains information on what I'll need for each class) makes a distinction between "Required" and "Recommended," and I sort of assumed that they already made clear what is needed and what isn't from that list.

    The first day of English 102 class the graduate student-teacher said it plainly that the textbook we just bought wasn't going to be used.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ramses II CP
    Once you get beyond your non-major requirement classes I would recommend keeping most of the textbooks unless they're overlapping or clearly unecessary. It never hurts to have more books.
    That's what I intended to do for the better books of my major (History for the moment). Unfortunately most of the classes I'm taking are those general requirements or the 100's, which don't exactly offer the most specific textbook ever.

    It'll be a while yet before I have to make that kind of decision I think.

    ****

    Thanks guys for the advices! So essentially it comes down to:

    - making friends in upper classes and see what they have to say

    - use the library if I don't think I'll really need it, though there are naturally issues if others are also doing what I do

    - online marketplaces (reputable ones) are generally safe, as long as I'm not being stupid

    Correct?

  8. #8
    Robot Unicorn Member Kekvit Irae's Avatar
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    Default Re: College Textbook Buying

    If your college has them, check the bulletin boards for anyone selling used books. They usually come cheaper than used books at the college bookstore, and you'll still get full buyback value once the course is over.

  9. #9

    Default Re: College Textbook Buying

    I did not go to college, prefering to stay on and go to 6th form so all books are provided there.. what I want to know is do you have to buy your own books in uni. I presume you do and just to follow the above advice.

  10. #10
    American since 2012 Senior Member AntiochusIII's Avatar
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    Default Re: College Textbook Buying

    Bulletin boards, eh? Interesting idea. I have seen them around, yes...
    Quote Originally Posted by mrdun
    I did not go to college, prefering to stay on and go to 6th form so all books are provided there.. what I want to know is do you have to buy your own books in uni. I presume you do and just to follow the above advice.
    Dunno about England, most likely the same as America, which would be "yes." And they're expensive.

  11. #11
    The Usual Member Ice's Avatar
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    Default Re: College Textbook Buying

    Quote Originally Posted by mrdun
    I did not go to college, prefering to stay on and go to 6th form so all books are provided there.. what I want to know is do you have to buy your own books in uni. I presume you do and just to follow the above advice.
    Yes, you do at most, if not all universities, unless you have a scholarship/grant from the state or a private organization.

    I'm lucky my parents pay for my books because they are usually anywhere from $300-$600.



  12. #12
    Backordered Member CrossLOPER's Avatar
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    Default Re: College Textbook Buying

    Depending on how your schedule works, I would wait for about a week before buying anything. I have several books that I did not use. I found several of them to be useful references, but I not much else. You could always sell the books to an underclassman when you are finished with course.
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  13. #13
    The Usual Member Ice's Avatar
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    Default Re: College Textbook Buying

    Quote Originally Posted by CrossLOPER
    Depending on how your schedule works, I would wait for about a week before buying anything. I have several books that I did not use. I found several of them to be useful references, but I not much else. You could always sell the books to an underclassman when you are finished with course.
    Alternative advice would be just return the books before the usual return date and get your money back.

    Note: If the book is wrapped in plastic, this only works if you keep the book wrapped in plastic.



  14. #14

    Default Re: College Textbook Buying

    Quote Originally Posted by Ice

    I'm lucky my parents pay for my books because they are usually anywhere from $300-$600.
    What a ridiculous price for a book

  15. #15
    Ja mata, TosaInu Forum Administrator edyzmedieval's Avatar
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    Default Re: College Textbook Buying

    Quote Originally Posted by AntiochusIII
    - I've looked around the 'net a bit, and find that apparently Amazon has a few books listed cheaper that what might be in the bookstore. Question is: is it safe, financially? (Now, I never bought online from "private" vendors before, but I'm not that dumb; the basics of online marketplaces aren't completely lost on me. Sometimes). Will I be able to turn the textbooks back into the Uni bookstore if I didn't buy it from them? Or do I need to reuse Amazon?
    In my experience, Amazon is very safe. I've bought lots and lots of stuff, and it arrived in the designated time, and when I didn't get my product, my money got refunded. So, it's very safe. At least for me it was.

    And in my case, I often get stuff much cheaper than in retail.
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  16. #16
    Relentless Bughunter Senior Member FactionHeir's Avatar
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    Default Re: College Textbook Buying

    Back when I was a freshman at college, I bought a few books that were required/recommended by the lecturers. Well, I never actually read more than a few pages and did fine anyway.
    For the rest of the years including my postgrad studies, I have never bothered to buy another book and am doing just fine. Library is good for an occassional checkout and otherwise a lot of books you can find for free online as well using your institution login.

    Other than that, lecture notes give you all you need usually.

    However, a non British system may differ significantly.
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  17. #17
    Bureaucratically Efficient Senior Member TinCow's Avatar
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    Default Re: College Textbook Buying

    Quote Originally Posted by mrdun
    What a ridiculous price for a book
    I'm almost positive he's referring to the total cost of all of his books, not the price of a single one. The institutions I attended weren't exactly cheap, but even then the most expensive books I ever bought were in the region of $80-120, and they were very large legal casebooks.


  18. #18
    The Usual Member Ice's Avatar
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    Default Re: College Textbook Buying

    Quote Originally Posted by TinCow
    I'm almost positive he's referring to the total cost of all of his books, not the price of a single one. The institutions I attended weren't exactly cheap, but even then the most expensive books I ever bought were in the region of $80-120, and they were very large legal casebooks.
    Correct.

    My most expensive book I bought this semester was for accounting which was $164. It was expensive because I bought it new (I plan on keeping it) and I had to buy some stupid internet key for web assignments.

    Usually they are around $50.



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    Urwendur Ūrībźl Senior Member Mouzafphaerre's Avatar
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    Default Re: College Textbook Buying

    .
    Accounting? Are you studying business/management?
    .
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  20. #20
    The Usual Member Ice's Avatar
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    Default Re: College Textbook Buying

    Quote Originally Posted by Mouzafphaerre
    .
    Accounting? Are you studying business/management?
    .
    Yes, business.

    Accounting makes a good base for law



  21. #21
    Urwendur Ūrībźl Senior Member Mouzafphaerre's Avatar
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    Default Re: College Textbook Buying

    .
    I remember being adequately good at basic accounting but then lost interest to all. (I quit business school...)
    .
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  22. #22
    Robot Unicorn Member Kekvit Irae's Avatar
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    Default Re: College Textbook Buying

    I'm thankful some of the books I use are required for several courses, specifically World History To 1648 & World History Since 1648, and Intro To GIS (for geography minor and GIS certification).

  23. #23
    Bureaucratically Efficient Senior Member TinCow's Avatar
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    Default Re: College Textbook Buying

    Quote Originally Posted by Ice
    Yes, business.

    Accounting makes a good base for law
    I can see that. Most lawyers I know can't do basic math. It will probably make you a lot more marketable for counsel positions involving the financial market.


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