Students find tricks, shortcuts to save on textbooks

Whether you are an engineer who needs a $100 chemistry book that can only be purchased at the bookstore in hardcover or an English major who can get your books cheap from a friend on your floor, buying textbooks generally is an unpleasant chore on college students’ to-do lists.

“I think the hugest hassle (of buying books) is dealing with the crowds of people at the bookstores during the first week of classes,” said Bryanna Charles, sophomore in FAA. “I feel getting rid of the books at the end of the semester is more difficult than buying them in the first place.”

With so many different websites and advertisements promoting themselves as “the cheapest way to buy books,” it can be hard knowing where to turn.

Students commonly get books through the bookstore, Amazon, the Illini Book Exchange or a friend.

Although these methods are convenient and can usually guarantee books at a fair price, other websites and stores offer the same books for a cheaper price. It just takes patience, price comparisons and research.

Michelle Kelley, junior in Engineering, figured out a way to save money on books.

“There’s a trick I know that I haven’t used, which is to buy the international version of the textbook,” she said. “It usually has one language on one page and the English version on the other.”

Along with actually purchasing books, renting them is another option.

The Illini Union Bookstore, T.I.S, and other bookstores on campus offer the option to borrow textbooks and return them at the end of the semester.

Kelley recommends the website Chegg.com, where students can rent their textbooks online. It saves a lot of money from the ticket price of actually purchasing one, she said.

Buying a textbook can also be as easy as messaging another student. A quick Facebook search for University pages will result in hundreds, if not thousands, of students eager to sell their books for some extra cash in their pockets. Much like the Illini Book Exchange, searching through Facebook pages will result in the buyer purchasing textbooks with cash directly from the seller.

Sometimes professors might say the books listed on the syllabus are not required but instead “recommended” as a helpful reference that could aid in free response questions on exams and essays. In cases like these, students can opt out of purchasing expensive books they might not even open.

“I wait to buy my books until I’m told by the professor which books are actually necessary to avoid buying something that isn’t required,” said Chris Madridejos, sophomore in LAS. “Although the books listed as ‘required’ on the Illini Union Bookstore website are usually needed, there may be times when that isn’t the case.”

In cases where the book is required but the student just doesn’t want to buy them, having a friend in the same class could come in handy.

“I (didn’t buy a textbook) for a month,” said Jeffrey Fu, junior in Engineering. “I had to study with another person and borrow their book. There wasn’t any homework (for the class), so it’s good, except it got really annoying in the end not having the book all by myself.”

The libraries at the University will sometimes carry copies of textbooks; however, relying on the library might not be the best option for books because they might not be available.

No matter how you buy textbooks, they usually come at a hefty price, and it can be a hassle to find them, especially cheaply, if you don’t go the traditional route of just buying them at the official bookstore.

If you do your homework, you just might walk away with a cheap deal.

_The reporter can be reached at [email protected]_