Textbook Buying Guide

Navigating the book-buying trenches may seem daunting with all the choices out there. Here are some tips that will save you some grief and help keep your sanity.

1. Find out what you need before classes startIf you’re impatient like me, head on over to whywaitforbooks.com to find out your textbook list before you get your syllabus. It has the authors’ names and lists if the books are required for the class or optional. The site is a fantastic tool for online textbook purchasing before classes arrive.

2. Shop aroundPretend you’re buying a car. Although not nearly as expensive (depending on your major), some stores have certain books cheaper than others. If you stick to one destination, you may end up paying more in books than your next vehicle.

3. Talk to a friend who’s had the classMake friends quickly. Find someone who knows someone who has been there before you. Chances are, they were entirely too lazy to sell back the book, and it’s still laying under their bed next to unused Scantrons.

4. Beware of internationally made booksBe careful about online purchasing. Dave Wulf, co-owner of Booksmart, advises students that books published internationally are sold for much less than textbooks published in the states. Wulf says the content inside is the same, but the binding and material they are made from is different. This means that when you try to sell it back, you won’t get much for it. For example, a book that you paid $50 online for, that originally cost $80 in bookstores, may only be worth about $6 or less if it is an international book.

5. Get the right editionWhen book-browsing online, you need to find as much information about that book as possible. Make sure the edition and authors are all correct. Most teachers use the most recent edition, so make sure that is what you are looking at. Some sellers are selling older editions, but don’t put that in the description. Beware of fakes and frauds.

6. Allow time for shippingWhen purchasing books online, it’s sort of like gambling. Web sites like half.com and amazon.com constantly remind buyers that it can take up to two weeks for a purchase to be received. However, some sellers can take up to 21 days. Believe me, I’ve been known to check the mail daily for that one book that I need. If you don’t factor in shipping, you’ll be starting much later than some of your other prepared classmates.

Where to Shop

For a graduating senior, it took many moons to discover the different and inexpensive ways of buying textbooks. Of the many incidental expenses students face, buying books is one of the biggest and most painful. In my time at FAU, I have become an expert of sorts on getting the most bang for my buck (two years ago I bought a book online for $6).

FAU BOOKSTORE777 Glades Road Boca Raton, FL 33431(Located on the south end of the Breezeway)Store Manager: Phil SilvermanPhone: (561) 297- 3720Hours: Mon. – Fri. 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Pros:Convenience. For the on-campus student with no transportation, this location is ultimately the best. This place is fantastic for the students who do not live on a budget, because many of their prices are quite high. But at the end of the semester when it comes time to sell your books back, this FAU Bookstore gives you the best deal.

Cons:Unfortunately, FAU is a primarily commuter school, so this is actually one of the most expensive places to purchase books. The campus bookstore is owned by Barnes and Noble Bookstores, which mostly sells new textbooks for outrageous prices.

BOOKSMART670 Glades RoadBoca Raton, FL 33431Co-Owner: Dave WulfPhone: (561) 394-6085Hours: Mon. – Fri. 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Sat. 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Pros:It is within walking distance from the university – a plus if you don’t have a car. Comparatively, the prices are definitely less. Ranging from $3-$30 less, it’s definitely the best for your buck compared to the on-campus store. They pass on the savings to you by buying from wholesalers and publishers.

Cons:The sell back from student to store is a bit shady. Dave Wulf, one of the owners of Booksmart, says that a student will usually get a third to one-half the amount that the book would have sold for new. If the demand is not high for it, or it is not being used the next semester, they usually don’t pay a student that much for it.

AMAZON & HALF.COMwww.amazon.com, www.half.com

Pros:These online sites sell more books than any bookstore franchise you will ever set foot in. They deal directly with publishers, wholesalers and other individual buyers/sellers. Amazon’s prices are usually the lowest – sometimes up to 50 percent less. Half.com is owned by eBay, so there are some books that can be bid on and others that can be bought straight from the owner with no waiting hassle.

Cons:Since it is not right in front of you, you can’t be sure if the book you are buying is by the correct author or in good condition. Also keep in mind that there is this tiny factor called shipping. It can take anywhere from three days to three weeks for your books to arrive. If you don’t know your books until you receive your syllabus, then this definitely will not work for you.