=== Buying Textbooks Online ===

Buying Textbooks

Are you a college student and feel textbooks are overpriced?

You're not alone. The cost of textbooks has become a burden for most college students. I tried saving money by purchasing used textbooks on campus. Good luck finding any at the campus bookstore. The ones that were available had highlighting from someone who, apparently, thought they were painting a landscape with a rainbow on each page. The pitifully few bargains that were available at the campus bookstore were merely discounted 25% from the crispy pile of new books. No big savings.

Finding Quality Used Textbooks

I have had good success with Amazon, eCampus, and Half (a division of eBay). Buying randomly at these sites can be problematic, but I have used the following techniques to increase my success rate.

Tip #1 (pricing) Compare pricing at each of the three sites by typing in the ISBN number of a book you are looking for and perform a search. You do not need to have an account at any of these sites to window shop pricing. By comparing prices before opening an account, you will become familiar with the ease of use of each site.

Tip #2 (condition) Only buy "Like New" or "Good" condition books. Those listed as "Poor" are many times water damaged or are older Editions listed incorrectly under the wrong ISBN. Avoid purchasing from anyone who has done this practice and who has clearly demonstrated their comfort in deceiving a buyer. These individuals will rarely provide a refund and will normally have a feedback rating of zero (0) being a new account.

Tip #3 (rating) Amazon and Half offer ratings of their sellers. I don't suggest buying from someone with a zero (0) rating as they are likely a new account and have little incentive to ship the product. Let someone else take the risk and later rate them. Don't be the one to risk your money. Additionally, there are times that those individuals who lost their accounts due to fraud will open multiple accounts under different names. I ran into this once on eBay and have since avoided low rated sellers. I recommend buying from sellers with 10+ positive ratings.

Tip #4 (description) Take the time to read the description, if there is one, and look for articulate details. Someone listing a book as "good condition, some highlighting" is not as likely to ship a book promptly as someone who writes "5th Edition. Hardcover. No edge wear. No writing. Yellow highlighting on 12-15 pages in first chapter only" A clearly written description tells you the seller is a person who pays attention to detail and is not selling mass copies of old trashed books they found in a dumpster or yard sale.

Tip #5 – (shipping) While Media Mail is a terrific service and an inexpensive way to ship a book, avoid using this service. Pay an extra $2-$3 for USPS Priority Mail. Unlike buying a novel for relaxed evening reading, a textbook is for a new class and you will need it timely. Media Mail can take 7 – 10 business days for a delivery. Priority Mail takes only 2 – 3 days for a delivery. Once I ordered an Economics book and, by the time I received it, two weeks of class had passed and our first quiz was the following day. This was not the best strategy for starting a new class and was caused by my not having properly understood what Media Mail meant for delivery window. This was no fault of the seller, who promptly shipped the book the day of the purchase. Save money on the textbook, but not the delivery service.

Tip #6 – (email) Once you have purchased a textbook online, you will receive notification via email of the transaction. If you are provided the email address of the seller, write them a quick note letting them know you will send a courtesy confirmation note once the book arrives. Most sellers appreciate the gesture and will quickly get the book in the mail. Do not send an email saying you are desperate and they need to hurry. If you went the cheap route and only paid for Media Mail, you should set your expectations accordingly. Hounding the seller, because you did not pay extra for Priority shipping, will not expedite the shipping service.

The Best Solution

I hope this article helps you save money when buying used textbooks. Another approach is to share your knowledge online and earn money for doing so. How?

For example, I write a couple paragraphs a night to generate cash as an online author. The process is simple and each day the information you post generates a trickle of income into your checkbook. By the end of a semester you will generate enough pocket change to afford new textbooks next semester, versus the water damaged highlighted ones we all have desperately purchased at one time.

Open a free author's account and save some cash for next semester's textbooks. Writing 20 minutes a day will provide you some spending money while in college. It's fun and there's no cost to participate.

If you found this technique helpful, please feel free to email a copy to a neighbor or friend.