Textbook Tips

Andrew Stevenson

So as January is textbook hunting season, I’m writing this post on how to save on these pricey items.   I’m sure many of you know these methods, or have even better ideas to save, but I will share my ways of saving for those of us who need a little bit of inspiration.

Before being all gung-ho, searching your class syllabi for the textbooks and running off to the McGill bookstore to buy them, do some thinking.  Do I need this textbook? Can I find it online?  How much will I actually use this textbook?  Do I know someone else in the class? Will I be able to get a hold of this book outside of the McGill bookstore?  Answering these questions can potentially save hundreds of dollars.

First, decide if you actually need the textbook.  Some textbooks are not mandatory and are just extra supplements.  Unless you really think you will read it, don’t bother buying it right away, if at all.  Even if the syllabus says a textbook is mandatory, think realistically on how much you will actually use the textbook.  Maybe I am not a great example, but I rarely crack open many of the “mandatory” textbooks.  If you are not sure whether or not you will need it, wait a bit and then get a feel for the class and if necessary, buy it later.

Many textbooks and coursepacks are in the reserves section of the libraries.  So even if you’ve deemed a textbook unnecessary then realize you need to read a chapter, do not fear, a library will most likely have a copy.  Also, even if you do need the textbook often, it is not usually very hard to get a hold of a copy.  This can save a lot of money if you are willing to go to the library and chance the book not being available at the exact time you need it.

Next, check online.  Amazon and many other websites sell textbooks for a lower price.  Many used copies are also available online.   The only downfall to this method is it might take weeks for the book to arrive, and by that time you may already be well behind on readings.

Lastly, the greatest resource of all: McGill Classifieds and your friends.  Ask around to see if anyone is selling the book that you need.  Usually people sell them for a fraction of the price that the McGill bookstore charges.  On the McGill classifieds, around this time there are hundreds upon hundreds of people trying to get rid of their old books.  Look there, ask around and save a lot of money.

I have never bought a brand new textbook from the McGill bookstore, only coursepacks that I could not find elsewhere.   This has saved me hundreds of dollars.  With a little bit of effort will come a whole lot of savings.

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