It’s been probably about six years since I bought a text book and things have definitely changed in the ‘saving money on text books’ sphere. Before, the way to save money was to line up at the used text book store on campus and fight with other people to get the nicest looking used text book. Things have seemed to change this time around. There are many more options for us starving students. Which is a good thing, because text books can seriously add up (and break the bank!).
When I got my text book list (yes, I checked the first day it was out, August 1), I was astounded by the number of texts I needed to get. I added up how much it would cost if I got the books new ($900). I added up how much it would cost if I got them used ($650). I would have to order them for delivery from the university as I am doing distance education. I was going to try to get all my text books used, until I saw the tiny tiny print at the bottom of the page:
“If used texts are not available, we will send you a new textbook automatically”
Then I thought, ugh! How would I know if there were used books or not? That’s a gamble, and I didn’t want to do that with my precious starving student budget.
So I went to Amazon.ca and Amazon.com and compared the prices of the text books I needed to get.
Even though the Canadian dollar has been doing very well, there is still a huge discrepancy in prices of the text books. Like a 15-25% difference.
Cost of new text books through Amazon.ca:
Cost of new text books through Amazon.com:
I knew that I would have to pay for shipping (since it’s international shipping to Canada) if I used Amazon.com and I would have to pay for customs charges. This added up to $100.
So my total bill came up to $650. I’m happy with that, but in hindsight, I should have had it sent to a PO box across the border and then pick it up there and declare it. I would have had a CHANCE where I might not needed to have to pay the $100 (especially if the officer was nice LOL). I plan to do this next time.
Here are some other options:
This option was unfathomable when I went to university (or maybe I was just hiding under a rock? I graduated in ’05). There more and more text book rental options in Canada now. Though I would caution that you make sure you find a textbook that is the correct edition (because there may be older, outdated editions being circulated). Other than that, if you don’t plan on keeping it, rent it! (I had wanted to keep my text books when I was in university the first go, and now I regret that decision- just stuff! I never read my ENG 112 text book ever again!).
Some text book rental sites (I admit it, I Googled “text book rental canada”) are: Textbookrental.ca (the largest one in Canada. You can become an “ambassador” and for everyone you refer, you get 8% back. Almost like referring others to use Groupon… a tier/ commissions system) and Big Mama(often there is a back to school promotion where you get 5% off your purchase, and they plan a tree every time you rent from them).
The good thing about renting text books is that you can save trees (it’s recycling!). The bad thing is, often you pay about 50% of the purchase price to rent the text book for a semester. If you bought the book and sold it, you usually get about 50% of the resale value anyway (especially if you sold it directly to another student). However, sometimes the editions get updated so quickly that your textbook might not be new anymore. To me, it seems like the only one profiting from these text book rental sites is the people who are renting you your text book 😉
- Buy the Online/ downloadable version
On Amazon, for a number of text books, there was the option of buying the online version (e.g. so you can read it on your Kindle, or your iPad!). This is usually about 50% of the regular price the store would normally sell it for as well. However, if you’re the type of person who can’t read ‘online’ and needs to print everything out, or touch the pages, or high light the pages… a huge online version of a text book will be a pain. That being said, it may be easy to find what you want if it was an online version instead of flipping through hundreds of pages. Also, “selling” the downloadable version of your textbook might be awkward.
- Go to the local used text book store (and go early)
Had I gone to the campus bookstore, I would have found some used text books. However, I would have had to take transportation to get there (campus is in a different city), which would obviously negate the benefits of buying cheaper text books.
In summary, I’m happy with my Amazon.com purchase, but I think that next time, I’ll be having it shipped across the border and pick them up and bring’em home 🙂 It’s about an hour drive to the border from where I’m at and it would be a nice day trip. I know it’s best not to destroy so many trees, but with my program being delivered online, I’d like to get away from my computer once in a while.
Readers- which method of saving money on text books did you use in school? Did you keep your text books for nostalgia/reference sake or did you sell them right away?