For pre-meds, finding the textbooks you need can be a real pain — you’re either going to spend hundreds of dollars, or you suffer with old versions, bad versions, crappy used books that you are stuck with.
In this article, I’ll outline four approaches for getting your college textbooks as affordably as possible. There are plenty of options for pre-meds to find the textbooks you need, but there’s one method in particular that I think is more cost-effective than the rest.
Method #1: Library
You could always go check at your college library to see if they have the books you require. Unfortunately for most pre-meds, college libraries typically won’t circulate science textbooks. They know it’s too tempting to “borrow” a textbook and then “forget” to return it.
However, if you’re searching for texts for your social science/humanities classes, you might find what you’re looking for.
Method #2: Buy Used and Sell Back
When you take this route — buy the textbooks you need from your college bookstore and then sell them back — you’ll typically only get back pennies on the dollar. Overall, I think this is a bad investment. There are much better ways to get your books.
Method #3: Buy Used from a Student and Sell Used to Another Student
This method is much better than the previous one mentioned, but it does run into some problems. There’s a good chance you might get the wrong edition, get a bad copy, or (what usually happens) get stuck with buying from the college bookstore because you can’t find a student to sell you a copy.
Then you can get screwed when it comes time to sell. There’s nothing worse than having several hundred dollars of textbooks that the professors no longer use. Yikes!
Method #4 (The Best Method): Renting Your Books
This is the method that I think makes the most sense in most situations.
Renting your textbooks from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or other online sources solves the problems of the other three methods: it’s very affordable and reliable. Here are some examples:
- Amazon (this link needs to go to how to sign up for Amazon rental article, which is Article #2) lets you affordably rent textbooks as physical copies (with free two day shipping) or also get them simply as eTextbooks for a lower rental fee than you’d pay for a printed book.
- Barnes and Nobles is a textbook rental program for college students with flexible deadlines for book returns, free books returns, and 21-day return policies. Warning! B&N just doesn’t carry very many textbooks, so you can quickly end up wasting your time.
- Chegg is an excellent source of textbook rentals (and also a great place to buy and sell used copies). While you’re waiting for your physical copy to arrive, you also get to view a free courtesy eTextbook, perfect if you’re buying books at the last minute.
Next step: Read my article on how to get the most out of the Amazon textbook rental program, then sign up to get your textbooks on the cheap!
Any other suggestions? Post them in the comments below and I’ll include them in the article.