Save Money on Textbooks: Art School Edition

Yes, yes, I know, you’re getting ready to attend an art school in the fall, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have to buy textbooks for some of your classes. Lots of professors of HS classes and even some of your core classes will require you to have a “textbook” of some kind.
We don’t have a bookstore, so that’s not an option – though it wouldn’t be a good money saving option anyway. So you have no choice but to look elsewhere. Depending on the class, and the book you’re looking for, you’ve got some options below for you to pick from.

First, check your syllabus. Hopefully you’re starting to get emails or information from your instructors that include a syllabus and information about the classes you’ve signed up for. Take a look at the syllabus and see what books are required for you to have.

Borrow or buy from someone. If you know of or can find someone who already has the book from taking the class in the past. If they don’t want to sell the book, ask them if you can borrow it for the semester. You can even offer them some money for the “rental” to make it more enticing for them.

Check Facebook. Every year there’s usually a group that’s made for the incoming class on Facebook. This is a great resource for lots of things, one being finding your books! A lot of upperclassmen will join the group and post things about things they’re selling or old books they want to get rid of. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, make a post! It also wouldn’t hurt to try and make a post in a different classes group to see if anybody has the book & would be willing to sell it to you or let you borrow it.

Head to the library. You won’t be able to keep the book for the entire semester but knowing that it’s available for use is good. Many professors will put the book on reserve for their class which makes the check out time shorter so it ensures that it will be there when you need it. If your professor is only using a few pages or chapters out of the book you can always make some copies to have on hand.  If our library doesn’t have it, check out some of the local public branches to see if they do! You can also speak to one of the Reference Librarians in our library and they will do whatever they can to help you find what you’re looking for – even if that means requesting it from a different library!

Rent. There are lots of sites that offer the opportunity to rent the books you need which will usually be cheaper than buying the book for yourself. Plus you won’t have to figure out what to do with it when you don’t need it anymore! Check out these links for a few rental options and see if your book is available:

Buy used. If none of the options work for you so far, consider going on the hunt for used versions of the book you need.
  • Check out some local bookshops. There are a good number of students who decide to sell their old books locally to shops who are willing to buy them. Look at some shops on Capitol Hill (Twice Sold Tales), in Lower Queen Anne, etc. – places where you know a good number of students live off campus or shops that are near campus. You might get lucky and find exactly what you’re looking for!
  • Check out these sites. These are just a few examples of some places to look online for good deals on used books.

Buying new. If you’ve exhausted all of the other options or simply have to buy the book brand new, check out these ideas.
Buy an older edition. Contact your professor to see if purchasing a different edition of the book (assuming it has them) will work for the class. In most cases, this is just fine, but sometimes the professor is very specific about which edition they want you to work from.
Split the cost. If you know someone else who is going to be in the same class as you, reach out to them and see if they would be interested in sharing and splitting the cost of the book for the semester.
Buy it as an e-book. Ebooks are usually less expensive than purchasing a physical copy, plus you don’t have to lug it around with you. You’ll want to check with your professor, however, sometimes they’re not okay with the use of electronic devices in their classroom – even if it’s just for the book.

Sell your books at the end of the Semester. Provided that you didn’t buy an e-book or rent a textbook, you’re going to be faced with a decision. Do I need to keep this text book, or not? Will this help with my future courses or with my career? If you decide you won’t need the books, there are a variety of places that you can try to sell them back for some of your money. The quickest and easiest is usually going to a local bookshop (Twice Sold Tales, Mercer Street Books, etc.) and seeing if they will buy your book(s) for cash or in-store credit. Other options for selling your books include Amazon, Craigslist, or even posting them on the Facebook page to see if anyone else is in need of the book.

You can also check out this awesome resource from The City University of New York for a master list of some great places to find some of the books you need.  

Good luck out there!

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