Campus Life

Tips and tricks for buying your textbooks this semester

by Richelle Kingsland

Don’t judge a book by it’s price.

So you get your OSAP (or what’s left of it), pay your tuition, and have some money left over for living expenses and a few coffees. But then you log into Blackboard to check your syllabus, and surprise, surprise: you still need to get textbooks! We all know how expensive textbooks can be, and if you have a required text for each of your classes, you could end up paying $1000 in books alone. While it can be an easy decision to just not buy your textbooks and hope for the best, it usually doesn’t end well (they’re required for a reason). Last year’s executive team here at IGNITE made strong efforts to reduce the cost of textbooks, as we know it’s a concern among students. But after having several meetings with Humber’s administrative team, our execs learned that the textbook publishers set the prices of the books, not the Humber bookstore. Luckily they found a few tips and tricks that can help save you some cash, without sacrificing your grades!

 

Open Educational Resources (OER)

Man wearing sunglasses in library.

It seems as though everything surrounding post-secondary education costs a ton. That’s where Open Educational Resources come in. They’re a free resource for students in Ontario that provides textbooks, and other academic materials online to help you keep some of that cash in your pocket. All the resources in their Open Library can be downloaded absolutely free, and if you prefer a printed textbook, you can print for a minor fee. All the resources fall under a Creative Commons copyright license, which means you’re able to use and share the content freely! Although not all textbooks are available on this resource, as it’s still developing, it’s definitely worth checking out before buying a copy!

 

Rent your books

Woman giving a book to little girl.

 

Unless you know you want to keep your textbook around for future purposes or that it will come in handy later, it’s most likely just going to collect dust after your course is done. Renting your books is a great way to save some money and some shelf space, since you return the book at the end of the semester! When you’re at the bookstore (whether online or IRL), see if they have the rental option for the books you need. All you do is pay collateral (in case your midterm causes you to set the book on fire), sign an agreement, and return the book on the due date at the end of classes. Easy, and can save you 50% off the usual price!

 

Buy used textbooks

At the start of the semester, students are always trying to get rid of their textbooks from the courses they just finished to make some money to buy the next bunch. You can usually find a used copy of your textbook being sold for a lot less in Facebook groups or on sites like Kijiji. The bookstore also has an option to sell your book back, so you can buy used books from them as well. If you don’t mind an odd scribble or highlight on the page, used books do the job just as well as a brand new copy (and if they’ve already done the highlighting, you’ll know which parts to study)!

 

Put your library card to use

Children's cartoon characters singing about library cards.

 

It was the great Arthur Reed who once sang “having fun isn’t hard, when you’ve got a library card”, and while it may not be your idea of fun, the same applies to getting your readings done! You’d be surprised how many textbooks are available to loan at both the Humber Library and the Toronto Public Library. Although this is a more short-term solution, as the loan period is much shorter than renting your textbook and they have one or two copies of each book, it still gets the job done free of charge and gives you access to the information you need.

 

Check for deals on Amazon

Cartoon wizard dancing with books.

So many times I’ve gone shopping, seen something I liked, checked Amazon for a better price and bought it online later. The same definitely goes for textbooks! Not only can you find a less expensive price for the new editions on Amazon, you can also find older editions of textbooks, as well as digital copies that will free up some space in your backpack. I’ve noticed that a lot of the new editions of textbooks change one or two paragraphs, the page numbers, or maybe even just the cover to keep it updated. Unless specified by your prof, you can usually get all the same information by purchasing an older edition of the required text at a better price (just make sure to ask your professor first!).

 

Sharing is caring

Scooby Doo characters reading a book.

 

If you already have a group of friends you study with, why not split the cost of the textbook and share it? You can alternate who gets to take it home, and in case of a study emergency, you can always snap a picture of the pages they need. Just remember to set up a study time that works for both of you, and you can get your weekly readings done together in an afternoon. Plus, having a textbook buddy allows you to ask each other questions throughout the chapters if you don’t understand something!


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