Indiana Daily Student

The lowdown on buying textbooks

Textbooks sit at the foot of a bed May 17 at University East Apartments.
Textbooks sit at the foot of a bed May 17 at University East Apartments.

Textbooks. They’re more expensive than you may think — way more expensive. 

It’s important to shop wisely when buying your books for the new semester, and there are a ton of factors to consider when you’re looking for the best deal. Here are some things to think about when you buy your textbooks.

Buy or rent?

Buying a book means it’s yours for as long as you want it. Renting it means you’ll need to give it back, typically at the end of the semester. Renting is typically cheaper than buying, but you’ll need to keep your books in good condition to be returned.

Buying is more expensive but might be a good option if you know you will need to use a book in a future class or would just like to keep it. Rentals often go quick, especially for popular or required classes. Act fast, or you might be forced to buy the book instead. 

New or used?

Used books are usually in poorer condition than new ones, but they’re also cheaper. Try to get the nicest used copy you can find if you get your books in person. If all the used copies are pretty beat up, consider renting a new one. 

Sometimes the book you need has just been released or is the newest edition of an old book. In that case, you’re going to have to get a new copy no matter what. Shop around to find the best rental or buying price.

Online or in-person?

Consider if you want to get your book at the IU Bookstore  in the Indiana Memorial Union, TIS College Bookstore or an online vendor such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Getting your books online means more options and direct shipping to your residence, but buying them in-person means you can ensure the quality of books you’re getting. 

Electronic or physical?

Many textbooks now have electronic copies students can buy or rent instead of a physical book. Electronic copies can be cheaper than physical copies and are certainly easier to carry around. But some students learn better from physical books and have a hard time reading electronic copies. It really is a matter of personal preference. 

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