How I Buy My College Textbooks

You’ll probably see this and think, Why would I need to know how to buy textbooks? I have Chegg, I have Amazon, I have [fill in the blank]. I don’t use those resources to buy my books, though. The way I do it is the way most people advise NOT to do it, so of course I’d like to share my wisdom (or lack thereof) and reasoning as to why I do it this way.

I buy my textbooks.

I know everyone and their grandmother says not to buy your textbooks, and I agree. If you’re a STEM major or art major or basically most likely any major that isn’t English and/or Creative Writing, I don’t recommend buying your textbooks. It’s more expensive than renting them. For some reason, the books required for me are super cheap. Like, barely $10 a book (for the most part at least). Is it cheaper to rent them? Of course it is, that will always be the cheaper option. But I actually want to keep these books that I use. And I hate the hassle of worrying about turning in the books on time, or mailing them back to Chegg and worrying about them getting there and whatever. I worry too much.

Based off of my experience, a lot of other majors don’t reference back to their old required textbooks very often after they finish the course they needed them for. I can’t speak for everyone, so take that with a grain of salt and make that decision on your own. But my textbooks consist of essays and short stories and classics and some textbooks on the craft of writing, and I’d like to keep them around in case I want to reference any of them (or the annotations that are usually required inside them) in the future. There’s no other benefit to buying instead of renting other than keeping the books for as long as you want. If you don’t want to keep or think you’ll benefit from keeping your books, rent them! It’s cheaper!

I only buy used, if I can help it.

I’m always provided with the option new or used, and I always always always choose used. Of course, if I ever want to actually get all of my textbooks, I have to check the box that says “if we don’t have any more used books can we send and charge you for a new one instead?” and then maybe one of the books in my order will end up being a new one, but that’s okay. It doesn’t happen often. Buying books new is more expensive (sometimes a LOT more expensive) than buying used.

Be careful when you buy used, though. I buy my textbooks through my university bookstore (more on that in a moment) so I can pretty much always count on the books being in good shape. But if you get them from Chegg or something, I’ve heard horror stories (and seen them firsthand) of actual sections of the book missing, the cover falling off, etc. Be careful with Chegg. I personally have never used it, and the people I know who have used it continue to use it even after a bad experience with a crappy book, but eh. Just be careful when buying used books.

I buy my books through my university bookstore.

I think this might be one of the 7 deadly sins or something? This is a super personal preference, because I know almost nobody else who does this. I know you can find cheaper alternatives on Amazon and Chegg. I know I could probably have them delivered from Amazon quicker because I have Amazon Prime. But honestly, I know for a fact that my university bookstore will have all my books (with the exception of the occasional backorder). And, quite frankly, my books aren’t even expensive to begin with. I purchased 18 textbooks and the total only came out to $200 after a shipping expense was added. For TEXTBOOKS. That’s insane.

The thing is, I’m far more comfortable with my books being together. If I start ordering books from Amazon, they may not have all the exact books I need. Same with Chegg. With the two combined, I could probably have all of my books in the end, but then they’ll be arriving in multiple packages and that just bugs me. And I don’t even know if I can BUY books off Chegg or if they only rent them out (I haven’t bothered to look). If I order through my bookstore, I have the option to have them delivered to my home or to pick them up there or to have them delivered to my dorm (which I don’t live in, but if I did? That’d be so nice).

So this is my ridiculously unpopular opinion and totally varies based on so many factors, but I’m a huge fan of just buying the damn textbooks. Again, mine are extremely cheap and super convenient to just buy anyway. Would it be cheaper to rent? Yeah, maybe a buck or two, but they aren’t even $10 anyway.

Can I also just mention that I got some really good books to read this semester? Like, really awesome. Two of them are on backorder, which sucks, but the rest are here and beautiful and two of them are signed by the author (?!?!?!) and I’m so eager to read them all. But I have to wait. First, because if I read them now I’ll definitely, undoubtedly forget everything about them by the time I need to read them for my actual course and have to just read it again and NOT want to read it again because I’ve already read it and . . . Yeah. Second, because I actually have a million books that I need to read before school starts and I haven’t read them and the TBR pile is glaring at me as I write this, if you don’t hear from me it’s because I’ve been attacked by these books. Send help.

Here’s just a really quick shoutout to my other college students out there! To the other English and/or Creative Writing majors, Publishing majors, University of Iowa students (go Hawkeyes!), students who secretly love to write but have no time to actually do it, students who are afraid to major in what they love to do (go for it I promise you’ll enjoy life more).

And another quick shoutout to all of the authors who have reached out to me so far to review their books! I’ve barely been blogging for a month and the amount of support I’ve received so far is astonishing. I’m shook. And if I’m reviewing a book for you and you haven’t heard from me in a while, it’s most likely because your masterpiece has consumed me and also because I’m a college student about to start classes again for the fall and also moving out to school. But I promise I’m reading my life away, and I will let you know as soon as I get the review up for your book.

Thank you to EVERYONE who takes the time to read my blog posts, check out my Instagram, interact on my Twitter. I see you all and I love you all.

Would you guys like to see a list of my textbooks? I promise they’re not boring, they’re mostly essays and classics. Let me know!


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