When I was in college, the routine was simple at the start and end of every college semester. At the beginning of the semester, I’d sign up for my classes, gather all of the syllabi (not sure if that’s a word or not) and trudge off to the on campus bookstore, dreading the massive hit that my wallet was about to take.
I’d go inside, pick out all the books I needed, and, like a man facing impending doom, slowly make my way to the cashier, just waiting for the damage. It more often than not hurt, and hurt a lot.
Then, at the end of the semester, it would basically be the reverse process. Classes were over, the textbooks were now useless to me, so I’d go back to the same bookstore, waiting to get ripped off once again. That prized biology book that I paid almost $100 for not three short months ago now only fetched me $15 (or some other ridiculous amount). My visions of walking out of that place with ANYTHING close to what I spent at the beginning of the semester are dashed suddenly. It was almost criminal.
There may still be some of you out there still participating in this farce. Well, I have news for you. Great news. The rip-off is over. The conspiracy can be thwarted.
Here are a few simple steps that you can take at the beginning and end of each semester that should allow you to save more on the front end and get more back on the back end.
The only presumption that I make is that you do not have some undying need for “new” textbooks. I don’t see the point in this, but some of you may. If you do, your savings on the front end may be affected.
Anyways, the first thing you should do is to get your textbook list ready as soon as possible. I was quite involved in this process with my wife who just recently finished college, and as I remember, some of the textbook lists are available before you even sign up for the class. Regardless, get this list as soon as possible, as you’ll need to allow for a little extra time for shipping.
Next, go to one of the millions of websites out there that deal in used textbooks. I personally prefer Amazon, as I feel you can get a larger selection. It is an auction type site so you can probably find multiple versions of your book available (anything from almost brand new to falling apart) depending on what your needs are.
Comparison shop with your local bookstore if you want, but trust me, your savings will be huge. Now, the higher powers that be have already figured this out and sometimes you may find that “new” is the only way to go. They switch “versions” of certain textbooks on a ridiculous schedule, just to force you to buy new. In this case, I doubt there’s anything you can do. But, you should be able to save a great deal over the on-campus store.
Then, at the end of the semester, you kind of do the opposite. Definitely don’t go to the bookstore on campus. No sir. Here, you also have a few options. If you just want to dump them all and be finished with it, again, go to one of the millions of sites out there dedicated to this. Two I have had direct experience with are Book Byte and Blue Rectangle. The process couldn’t be any simpler. Go to their site, type in your ISBNs, see if they accept them all or not. For the ones that they do, if you agree to their price, they give you a pre-printed shipping label, and all you need to do is find a box to put them in. Put the label on there and give it to your postman. That’s it. It takes a few weeks for your money to show up, but that’s it. If you’re a little more gamey, post your books on Amazon, and you might be able to get a little more for them. Use common sense, but price them however you want to. Of course, you’ll be responsible for monitoring your account, shipping them in a timely fashion, and so on, but you might find that you can make a little more going this route.
Personally, I used a combination. Some books I found that I was paid more for by going through one of the sites I mentioned above, and others, I got more from Amazon. The choice is yours. One choice you shouldn’t make under any circumstances—the big bad dreaded on campus bookstore.
Happy holidays, and happy buying and selling!
If you’d like to learn more about managing your finances, visit me at my blog at www.yourfinances101.com/blog
Causes David Bakke Supports
Anyone's desire to get out of debt!
I also generously support The Salvation Army and the Vietnam Veterans Association.