Saving Money on Books

1. I check my local library catalog online to see if they have the book I’m interested in. If so, I jot down the information for my next library trip. Some libraries will even pull books off the shelf and hold them for you so that you don’t have to spend any time at all hunting for them. My library charges a fee for this service, so I do it myself. I like to wait until there are several books I’m interested in before investing the time to go to the library.

2. I consult AddAll, a book price comparison search engine. Usually, the best deals are on Amazon or Half.com, but occasionally ABE Books or another vendor will have the best price. AddAll even factors in shipping costs.

I’ve noticed lately that Amazon seems to be pricing their books such that to buy your book from Amazon with free super saver shipping is the same price as buying the cheapest used book. So it may be worth it to wait until you have two or three items to purchase and get a brand new book from Amazon for the same price as a used book elsewhere.

When I was in college, I saved loads of money on textbooks buy avoiding the college bookstore as much as possible. (Confession: I actually worked there and felt bad for all the people who bought their books full price.) Online sites devoted exclusively to textbook sales are often almost as big of a ripoff as the college bookstore, but you can often get textbooks from vendors like Amazon for a fraction of their retail price. I also usually resold my books this way rather than taking the insulting pittance the bookstore buyback service offered. Splitting the cost of a textbook with a friend (ideally someone in the same dorm) is also a good way to save, as long as you are disciplined enough to study when it’s your turn to use the book.

Photo by quinn.anya

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