Have you been debating whether you should rent or buy the Lit Hum box set from the bookstore or Book Culture? Are they rip offs or actually good deals? Wondering how you should acquire textbooks and other books for classes?
Renting the Lit Hum box set can be a good idea–you get all of your books at once and avoid the package center line, but you don’t get to add a stack of the classics to your future bookshelf. Actually buying the Lit Hum box set from the bookstore is not the best idea, nor is it your most cost-effective option. Not only are you spending more money than you need to, you also can’t account for any changes your professor makes to the syllabus, and nobody is really going to put those books on their mahogany bookshelves when they’re older. While Bwog really has no input on whether buying or renting books is the better option, as it is up to individual preference, pretty much anything is better than buying from the school bookstore, unless convenience is your only consideration.
We recommend instead:
- Rent from Amazon
- Buy used from sites like Amazon, eBay, Abe Books, or the website of any large used bookstore
- Buy from a local store like Book Culture. Bonus: Book Culture sorts books by professor to make easier to find the specific edition they put on the syllabus.
- Search the internet for PDFs of shorter texts. It’s a great alternative to buying ridiculously priced Cambridge University Press philosophy texts (of which you will read at most 10 pages)
- Ask around for upperclassmen looking to sell their old textbooks, since many are too lazy to post on Facebook pages
- Keep an eye out for PDF versions of textbooks. Bwog once found a PDF of the intro orgo textbook saved to a computer in the Hartley computer lounge.
- Use the course reserve textbooks–although you will have to stay in the library to work on your problem set or whatever. The Barnard, Math, and Engineering libraries are the ones most likely to have the kinds of textbooks that you will only want to use for problem sets (physics, general chemistry, calculus).
- The Hartley sky lounge also has a stockpile of intro level textbooks.
And even if you end up sinking too much money into your books for this year, keep them in decent condition and you can always resell them. You’ll pocket the most money by selling directly to someone you know instead of going through a bookstore.
An ancient tome via Wikimedia.