Saturday, August 11, 2012

Summer Vacation Days 18-19: How to Search for Textbook Deals on Amazon

Hello, everyone.

I am sorry I didn't post yesterday, I was in the midst of writing a paper for my last summer course which I (finally) managed to complete shortly before eleven at night.; so, as you can imagine, I wasn't feeling up to blogging.  In any event, if you have been following my list of summer goals, you will recognize that I have just chalked up another accomplishment:

  1. Read at Least 6 books

  2. Try a new activity

  3. Eat more consciously

  4. Get a tan—an even one

  5. Go on a road trip

  6. Get out more

  7. Update wardrobe

  8. Watch ten movies

  9. Complete summer classes

  10. Complete a grand multi-disc miniseries or television show

  11. Get my driver’s permit

  12. Reward myself for my accomplishments

So, hurrah for me!  Two goals down, ten to go!

Anyhoo, I wanted to share with my readers some of my tried and true tips for getting the best price on college textbooks.  Since I am in a profession that tacitly expects you to continue to further your education, either to move up in pay scale or to increase your field-specific knowledge, I have spent most of the past decade trolling for the best price on books.  As such, I wanted to share some of my tips for getting the best buy on your books.

  1. Locate the textbooks that you will need for the next term.  You can usually find  these either on the syllabus you are given on the first day of class, via an online syllabus the professor has posted on their website, or by searching for your classes using your course information on your college bookstore's website.

    [caption id="attachment_212" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Find your college's webpage.[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_213" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Search the college's website for the school's bookstore.[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_214" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Once on the college bookstore's website, click on the link that takes you to the textbook search page and look up your class using the department name, course number, and section number (see your class schedule for that information!).[/caption]

  2. Once you locate the book(s) you will need, write down the title, author, edit, and ISBN number listed; you will use this information to find the book from online retailers and to verify that you have found the correct edition.

    [caption id="attachment_215" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Write down the title of the text, author, edition, and ISBN number. You'll use this information to look for competitively priced texts on Amazon.[/caption]

  3. Search the textbook section of Amazon for your textbook; search for the book using your text's 13 or 10 digit ISBN number.  This number will (in most cases) help you to locate the correct edition of the book.  Note: Make sure that you double check the edition number, sometimes people make errors when they are adding books (especially used ones) onto the site.

    [caption id="attachment_216" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Amazon often has competitively priced textbooks as well as a HUGE selection of well-priced used texts, too![/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_217" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Amazon's textbook page makes it easy to search for books by ISBN.[/caption]

  4. Once you have located your book, double check the price of the text on Amazon (both new and used) against the new and used prices that your bookstore has listed.

    [caption id="attachment_218" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Check the price for both new and used textbooks.[/caption]

A Few Notes . . .

  • I haven't mentioned renting textbooks which, often, can be cheaper than buying books; however, when you rent a book, you miss out on resale value and often rental prices are as nearly as much as competitive used prices.

  • Many used booksellers list their books on more than one retail site; so, used books that you find on Amazon will probably appear on the Barnes and Noble site, too.

  • Consider joining Amazon Prime Student which gives you free 2-day shipping for free for 6 months with the option of a paid membership after the trial period (it's less than $100 for a year and pays itself off quickly if you frequently buy things from Amazon, like I do!).

  • If possible, when attempting to buy a used textbook from Amazon, look for books that can be "Fulfilled by Amazon," which means that Amazon can ship them to you directly and you don't have to worry about a used bookseller (who can be anywhere in the world) to ship the book to you.  Fulfilled by Amazon is like an added measure of security and will get you your materials way quicker!

  • Try to buy books that are only in excellent or good condition; books that are listed only as being "acceptable" are sometimes a crap shoot.

  • Unless you will need them in another semester, sell you books back to your college bookstore (often, you can sell back books that you didn't buy on campus) or on Amazon.

  • If you are looking for a hard-to-find book that is out of print (professors are notorious for doing this . . .), check Powells, an independent bookseller in Portland that has LOADS of obscure books.

So . . . how do you save money on your textbooks?  Share your ideas in the comments section. :-)



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