Saving Money with Used Books
Why spend $100 per book, when you can get it used for cheap $$$?
Don't buy textbooks before classes start unless you're buying them from the bookstore. IF you're buying used textbooks from the bookstore then go a bit early because yes... used textbooks are limited stock on the shelves so they go first since they are cheaper to buy. Once all the used ones are gone, you'll have no choice but to buy the new book at significantly higher cost if you need to buy the latest version from the bookstore.
HOWEVER... if the textbook in your book list isn't requiring the NEWEST version (some textbooks come out this year and are newer versions with different rearranged pages, so you need the new textbook to follow along properly in classes with the right page numbers, etc). While most classes will allow the use of an older textbook that you can buy USED off a student that already took the course. In this situation... BUY IT FROM A STUDENT. You'll save way more money buying it second hand directly from a student.
Option 1: Seeking out others to buy their used books off them
Each year you spend anywhere between $500 - $1000 on textbooks and courseware for your school year. A tip to help you save money is to write down your book list for all your courses, and then look those books up in the Used Book Classifieds.
To do this, first look up your book list
by course subject. (NOTE: FOR SEPTEMBER, THE BOOK LIST WILL BE UP IN AUGUST
Second, go to the Bookswap/Classifieds
service provided by Titles and search for your book title or ISBN number. You will get a list of books that students are selling from last year. If the book is being re-used this year, there is a high chance you will be able to get it for 50-80% savings by purchasing it off another student. Simply e-mail the seller, setup a meeting time, and make the exchange. You can roughly save about half your cost of books each year by doing this!
Other places to find used books is through Facebook Groups, and MacInsider's own Marketplace. CLICK HERE FOR A LIST
of where to buy textbooks online.
Now, the above methods are for getting used books through students, what about through the official bookstore?
Option 2: Buying used books directly from the bookstore
on campus offers used books
. Where will you get your books? Most students will buy from either the temporary bookstore or the Tank. To read more about where to get your books, click here. Buying used books from the McMaster Bookstore (Titles, The Tank, etc) is convenient and easy because they have all of your course material organized and you simply look for the books that have the 'used' sticker on them so you get the discounted price!
Option 3: Ask around in the MacInsiders forums
There are plenty of threads in the forums with people asking for textbooks or selling them. Check out just some of the textbook discussions in the Marketplace
At the end of the year Titles has a "Buy Back" period where they buy your textbooks back from you for a fraction of the price (and I mean a fraction!). They then put them back on the shelves as used books the following year and re-sell them as used textbooks. If your textbook this year is the same as it was last year, you're in luck! The bookstore will most likely have used copies of the book available.
What is Custom Courseware?
To keep things simple: custom courseware is a bunch of photocopied articles that your professor may require or encourage you to read for the class. Those articles are then bound into a package and usually sold for a hefty price. You can not return custom courseware. Some students prefer to wait until classes start and they are a week into class before purchasing textbooks and courseware because you DO have the option of changing classes (add/drop) within the first few weeks of class. Custom Courseware is non-refundable, so once you buy it... you're stuck with it. For this reason, usually wait until you are positive on your course selections before buying it.
When do you recommend getting books?
You most likely won't need textbooks until after your first week since the first week of classes usually consists of introductions and going through the course outline. However, getting your textbooks early is always a good idea. Why not read ahead while you don't have a huge workload yet?!
With used textbooks it is recommended that you act fast. There are usually not a lot of used textbooks on the shelves, so you'll want to get shopping as soon as classes start. The nice thing about textbooks from the bookstore is that you can return them, so buy early and if you drop the class, return the textbook without penalty.
Buying textbooks from other students however, is where you can save a LOT of money. We have a whole separate article on that, check our Articles & Tips section for listing of where you can find used textbooks, and also be sure to check the MacInsiders Marketplace