Every college student must buy books. It’s an expense you must account for at the beginning of every semester. The key to the book buying art is to allow yourself time to shop around. If you do not allow yourself enough time you end up running to the book store the first day of classes and paying much more than you have to. If you are the last minute type make sure you’re at least buying a used book for a lesser price from the bookstore.
The best way to save money on books is by borrowing. Ask around and see if any of your friends have taken the class and still have the books. If they have and plan on keeping them ask if you can borrow it for the semester. If they were planning on selling it back, see if you can buy the book off of them for half the price they paid. Most likely that price will be more than what they could get by selling the book back to the campus bookstore.
If you have no luck shopping around your friends’ book collections, the next step would be looking online. After I have my classes and professors set in stone for the next semester I like to e-mail them and ask what books we will need for the class. Once I have a list of all my books I go on a used book site and look up books either by title or ISBN number. The website ISBN.nu is a great website for looking up and comparing book prices. When looking through these sites, keep in mind that typically the hard cover books are less expensive than the soft covered books. Although they are more of a pain to lug around, buy them! Although they are more of a pain to lug around buy them! After the semester is over shop around and see how much money you would get back from the bookstore during buyback week. Then look to see what the books are going for online. Compare how much money you can make in both places and choose the best option.
There also is the option to rent books, which a lot of my friends have done before. Chegg.com is a good site if this option is the best for you. First you go to the website and rent the books. They send the books to you and, after you are done with them for the semester, you send them back via UPS for no charge.