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VanCougs on a Budget: Affordable Textbooks

Cougs, it’s that time of year again. We’re all preoccupied with school and holiday gatherings. As we wrap up 2013,we must keep in mind that 2014 is right around the corner, and bringing with it a whole new semester.

You likely have your Spring schedule planned already, and now is the right time to begin thinking about accompanying textbooks. Textbooks, as we all know, can be very costly for a college student. It is not uncommon to have to cut back on your monthly ration of ramen just to afford textbooks. This year though the VanCougar is here to lead you through the land of textbooks.

Traditionally, a student buys new books at the beginning of each semester, uses them sparingly, and then sells them back to the bookstore for pennies on the dollar. Today, with the help of the internet, students have more buying options and thus have a bit more control in the textbook marketplace.

International edition textbooks are available to order online and are often a fraction of the price that a student can expect to pay in their local bookstore. These textbooks offer the same content, but may have aesthetic variations. Keep in mind that these books, though available to buy in the U.S., are not legally permitted for resale as a result of publishing laws.

A second option for finding books on the cheap is to rent textbooks as opposed to buying them. If you are not one for the clutter of hundreds of international edition textbooks taking over your bedroom then this is the option for you. The student chooses a textbook supplier (The Bookie, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.) and rents the textbook for a relatively low price with the promise of returning it at the end of the semester in a similar condition. Renting can be a wonderful, nearly no-hassle way of getting textbooks at the beginning of each semester, and purging them from your life at the end of the semester.

Another money-saving option is to share or swap textbooks with your classmates. Sharing, which looks like two students, heads stuck together, reading from the same text, can be a quite effective way to cut costs.  Alternatively, swapping can be useful if you know a person in a course that you will need to take in the future, a swap partner is usually somebody within your major as to decrease the chances of a change in textbook.  Classmates within the same major likely take different classes at different times in their college career; this can be mutually beneficial for students, as you can swap textbooks for the semester.

It is likely that by junior and senior year, you will have met some people in the same discipline that have taken different classes. Because you both have similar requirements, you can find out what you both need and what you both own, and swap for the semester. Yes, this way does re-quire buying a textbook at some point (maybe you can get some of those lingering international editions off of your hands) but you are able to save the total cost of at least one textbook, which can make a significant financial impact.

Whether you plan on sharing, renting or going international, time is ticking. Now is the time to get out there and hunt down those cost effective textbooks.

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