Author: Sean Qi
For many first-year students, university will be the first place where you have to buy your own textbooks for class. With many new textbooks costing over $100 each, buying textbooks can create a huge dent in your wallet if you are not careful. In this blog post, the CMP team will share some useful tips and tricks that will change the way you purchase textbooks. I certainly hope that by following our advice, you can get the biggest bang for your buck and save hundreds of dollars per semester.
First things first, if you are reading this blog post and currently don’t own an iClicker, buy one…. NOW! Chances are you will have a class that needs one. (For first-year Sauder students, iClickers are used in COMM 101 and COMM 290.) Before the semester officially begins, many students sell used iClickers online for as low as $10. Considering the fact that new iClickers cost over $40 at the UBC Bookstore, the savings are seriously unreal. However, I’d like to stress the importance of buying an iClicker before the first week of class. When the semester begins, students will begin to realize that they need to buy an iClicker. During this time, it becomes super difficult to find used iClickers for sale because so many people are interested in buying them. If that wasn’t enough, professors are known to give students iClicker questions as early as the first lecture. How irritating is that! To avoid the annoyance of overpaying for a new iClicker because you couldn’t find a used one in time, purchase a used iClicker AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
Back on topic. Right now, you probably already have your booklist and don’t know where to begin. Read the next couple of sections for some useful advice that will help you master the art of buying university textbooks.
Do I even need to buy a textbook for this class?
For some classes, lecture notes, PowerPoint slides and (CMP) prep sessions will offer you with enough material to help you study for exams. In other classes, the “required” textbook is hardly used at all. Before buying textbooks, attend the first few lectures, read the course syllabus and talk to upper-year students to determine if buying the textbook for a particular course is worth it or not. If textbook use is scarce for a particular course, consider borrowing the textbook from a classmate and recording the notes you need.
Should I buy new or used?
Always buy your textbooks used, unless the class requires a completely new textbook that cannot be purchased second-hand. COMM 291 students will know the feeling.
It is absolutely okay to buy a previous edition of the same textbook. Most of the time, the publisher just moves a few pages and sections around. If you are unsure, ask your prof for clarification.
Where do I buy my textbooks?
UBC textbooks can be found at:
- The UBC Bookstore. If you have money to throw away, buy new textbooks here. You can also save money by renting new textbooks from the UBC Bookstore, although I haven’t done this myself.
- Discount Textbooks at the University Village Marketplace. Although the textbooks here are second-hand, most of the books on sale are relatively more expensive than what you would find online.
- Facebook groups are the best place to find used textbooks at great prices, so join these groups right away! Most of the textbooks I ended up buying last year came from Facebook. The two largest groups are “UBC textbook 4 sale” (22,000+ members) and “Buy and Sell – UBC text books” (12,000+ members).
- Kijiji and Craigslist. Some of the sellers on Kijiji and Craigslist live far away from UBC campus. If they don’t plan on delivering the books to you, you might have to travel a considerable distance to get the textbooks you have agreed to purchase. Turn to Kijiji and Craigslist when you cannot find the textbook you are looking for on Facebook.
- If possible, check the public library for textbooks before buying.
- See if your friends own any textbooks that you need. If they’re nice, they’ll sell it to you for a reasonable price or let you borrow it for free. 😮
How much should I pay for a textbook?
All things considered, this comes down to you and how much money you are comfortable spending for a specific textbook on your booklist. You often end up saving tons of cash by buying used textbooks online that are sold at discounts of 30% or more. Sometimes, these discounts can be higher than 80%. Although different sellers can sell the same textbook at different prices, small differences in price ($5 to $30, depending on the original price of the book) are often irrelevant because these books are being sold at noticeably lower prices than buying new.
However, if you are interested in getting the BEST deal, comparing multiple postings and waiting for bargains to surface will help you maximize your savings. This approach isn’t for everyone, as it might take extra time and energy to find the right seller, and you might get your textbooks later than expected. Hunting for the best bargain is not recommended for textbooks that are hard to find in the first place.
The CMP team hopes that this guide was helpful. If you have any tips that you are interested in sharing, leave a comment below. Best of luck!