What is the one thing you dread when starting a new semester? That's right, buying textbooks! They are so expensive to buy and selling them back at the end of the semester can leave you feeling ripped off. I have become very skilled at buying books and have never spent more than $100 on books for a semester, although it's usually a lot less.
There are a number of places you can buy books from.
The UWM Bookstore- Buying books here is most convenient because it is close, and if you have any problems it is easy to resolve them fast and efficiently. There are also other bookstores around the Milwaukee area that offer cheap textbooks such as the Panther Bookstore.
Library Reserve- Some teachers will keep a copy of their textbook on reserve for students to check out and use. This is not ideal if you will be using your textbook a lot, as students are typically only allowed to keep the book for two hours. It is nice to use if you order books and they arrive in the mail a few weeks after your classes have started. You can search on the website to see if there is a book on reserve for your specific class.
Renting books- This can seem cheap if you typically buy books from the bookstore and then sell them back to the bookstore but beware, if you rent you spend money on the books and have nothing left to sell back at the end of the semester. Sometimes there are fees if you send the book back late, lose or damage the book, or a number of other issues.
Ebooks- Just like renting books, you have nothing to sell back at the end of the semester. They also usually do not come with any access codes or supplementary material that a book may come with. I bought my first ebook this semester, I am not sure if I will like it a lot but it is nice that I can print out the pages that I need, and highlight and mark things on the computer. Most ebooks expire around 180 days after being purchased. If you think you might want to retake a class because you didn't do well, you would have to purchase the ebook twice.
Online- I typically buy and sell all of my books online. I find this best for me because I am able to pick out my classes a month or so ahead of time, find the books that are required, and then watch the book prices and buy when they are cheapest. If you do buy online, make sure you buy from a reputable company or seller. Buying and selling online is for those who are highly motivated and willing to get to a post office every time they sell something. It also can come with problems such as books arriving three weeks after class has started, or the wrong book coming all together.
A really great way to save money is to see if your friends have taken the classes that you are signed up for. You could pay them some money to borrow their book, or let them borrow one of yours for their classes. Textbooks are never a fun thing to spend money on, but if you are an informed consumer you can save a lot of money. Don't be afraid to buy used books either, they are often just as good as new books but at a fraction of the price.