Photo credit by Robert S. Donovan
Students are often completely shocked when their bill comes through for college text books that they have bought using the campus’s official bookstore. The trouble, and indeed the reason for this shock, is that bookshops that are related to, or have an official agreement with, schools and colleges often mark up their prices for books and other materials (such as stationery) way above the RRP (Recommended Retail Price). This is because they are taking advantage of students’ laziness and are banking on the fact that most students won’t be bothered to shop around and will just pop round to the campus bookshop which is just around the corner. This is the big mistake which leaves most students more in debt than they should be with things like accommodation and fees (if applicable). Paying more than you should do for college text books is just a completely unnecessary expenditure which should be minimized. Luckily, though there are several ways to do just that:
1. Ask for second hand books – either from a) your campus book store, b) another local bookstore, c) a charity shop, d) a specialist second hand bookstore or e) your friends, peers and classmates. From these five options you are almost certain to get a second hand book which isn’t completely in ruins! Who knows – it may even helpfully have some of the answers to the book’s questions written in by the previous owner! The books will be more expensive from proper bookstores which sell new books. Cheapest next will be charity shops and second hand book stores: remember that it would be considered rude to haggle in a charity shop, but you can always feel free to try and get a lower price in a second hand books shop. The cheapest of the lot will probably be your mates. You can always haggle as well, and perhaps they’re more likely to give in and sell it to you for less if they’re selling it to a friend. However, do be warned, as the books of your friends are going to be the most tatty, as they will have originally had no thought to sell them on after they’ve used them for some kind of profit, so they will have had minimal interest in keeping them in a good condition and pristine.
2. Shop online – and by online, I’m specifically talking about Amazon (www.amazon.com / www.amazon.co.uk) or eBay (www.ebay.com / www.ebay.co.uk). Browsing these websites, you will find that not only do they have a massive catalogue of products, but their prices are often really good, with a decent percentage coming off the R R P in most cases. On both sites, you should be able to choose whether you want to buy the book new or used, though you’ll find with this particular choice you will have more flexibility on Amazon.
So, there are plenty of alternative options to wasting your money in your greedy for money campus bookshop. Don’t be afraid to shop around, because it’s definitely worth it!