A guide to bargain hunting for textbooks

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A guide to bargain hunting for textbooks

By Megan Jones

We had it easy in high school. A teacher would pass around those heavy textbooks. You’d write your name on the inside cover. That was that.

But in college, we have a hefty price on our plates: textbooks. There are, however, options to make paying for textbooks easy.

I’m no pro, but I’ve had my fair share of renting, buying and selling books. Ultimately, you’re left with a hole in your pocket and a heavier backpack.

Buying at the bookstore

There are two bookstores on campus to go to. The first is owned by the University, the Illini Union Bookstore. There is also T.I.S. Bookstore, which stands for The Illinois Store. T.I.S. often has cheaper options. I always compare the two before I start my journey as a base-point. If I can find cheaper options online, I go for it. But also, take the convenience option of being able to get it on campus.

It’s best to buy textbooks after attending your first class because sometimes the professor gives tips on whether you need a specific type of book or where you can find the cheapest.

Ordering online

There are several stores, such as Chegg or Half.com, where you can look up your textbook online and find the best price. Even searching on Amazon can provide cheaper options than buying instore. However, with this comes shipping costs, and it can stall starting homework if you’re waiting for the book to come in. This can also be hard because you can’t see the book in advance to see its condition before agreeing to buy or rent it.

Renting vs. buying

The lessened price of renting a book versus buying it always makes me (and my wallet) feel better. However, sometimes buying the book only costs a small fraction more. In this case, it’s better to just buy the book and see if you can sell it back rather than keep something temporarily. I typically rent books not in my major and buy books in my major (I hope that someday I’ll want to go back and read them for novel pieces of advice). A lot of the online stores mentioned above offer rental prices.

Ultimately, it comes down to the time crunch and how much you really see yourself using the books. I do a combination of all three methods in order to maximize the most and save money.

Megan is a junior in Media.

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