Avoid Your College Bookstore

            Nearly all colleges have bookstores located on or close to campus. And every single one of them is a lot more expensive than it needs to be.

            A lot of these bookstores are affiliated with the university. These bookstores know what books the professors assign, and they usually have those books in stock. However, they understand that they have little to none competition, granting them the liberty of jacking the prices up. They know students will buy books there because they have a dearth of other choices.

            However, online book buying Web sites, like Amazon.com or half.com, offer less expensive alternatives. With Amazon, students can buy from Amazon itself or other sellers. People post used/new books, their condition and their prices. Students can simply electronically purchase the books, and the seller will ship it.

            Students can expect to save anywhere from 40-70% from buying textbooks with Amazon, compared to prices at college bookstores. Also, students can sell their used books on Amazon for nearly the same price they bought them for. However, Amazon takes up to 15% commission on all sales. Sometimes selling a book back at the bookstore could make you more money, but you can always check both sources before selling. When you sell a book, you name your own price and its condition; then if someone buys it you ship it to them. It’s a very simple process.

            However, shipping can take anywhere from three days to three weeks, and usually the seller determines the method of shipping. If one buys a book from Amazon itself shipping usually takes no more than three to five days. But, purchasing from another seller through Amazon – which is always much cheaper – can take a few weeks for shipping. 

            The extended shipping times can cause problems; however there are many ways to avoid them. Students can email their professors a couple weeks before the quarter starts, inquiring about which textbooks they use, and purchase them early. Students could also check their college’s library and rent out the textbooks they need; then return them when their Amazon books arrive. Also, students could order their books online, buy the same book from the local bookstore and return it for a full refund when their books purchased at Amazon arrive. College bookstores usually have a deadline around three weeks into the quarter, which gives your books just enough time to ship.

            Also, students should ask around to see if anyone has the textbook you need lying around in their room. They will probably let you borrow it for your semester. Students could even start a facebook group with other students at their college. Create an open group for exchanging and borrowing textbooks. This could be a great way to borrow textbooks from your fellow students for free.

            Most professors do not care how students acquire their books, and some even recommend that students do not buy them in bookstores to save money. Some professors might even suggest students buy the textbook at the bookstore, copy all the pages they need to read from it; then return it for a full refund.

            With all the options readily available to save – or even get free textbooks – it makes zero sense for a student to buy one at the bookstore. This is not a pledge or a rally to encourage students to boycott their bookstores. They probably sell wonderful pencils and staples, the absolute finest. We are just trying to introduce you to saving thousands of dollars in your years as a college student. College kids are always as broke as they will ever be in their lives. Now, hopefully, you might have a little more spending money.