As we all begin mentally preparing to hit the books once again this semester, you might have a few questions about the books themselves. And for good reason — on average, one college textbook costs about as much as a brand new Honda Accord. So before you go putting a down payment on that anthropology textbook, here are a few things to consider.
Do I really need to buy all these textbooks?
Honestly, there’s a good chance the answer is no. If you’re using the Student Stores website to see the textbooks listed for your class, there might seem to be a whole lot of “required” books. The same could sometimes be said if you’re looking at the “required texts” section of your class’ syllabus. However, I’d suggest holding off on buying all the books you see listed until at least the first time your class meets. Your professor or TA will likely be pretty frank with you on how often you actually use the various textbooks that are listed, and if you’re lucky, they might even outright tell you not to buy one or two of them. You can also try digging through websites like RateMyProfessor, but these are definitely less reliable sources.
Will I be behind if I haven’t done the reading before the first day?
If the reading is assigned from a textbook, no. Professors were students once, too. They realize that sometimes you aren’t able to get the books early, or maybe you joined the class last-minute, or that you just weren’t able to drop a couple hundred dollars on a book for a class you might not even stay in. Do take a look at the syllabus and check for other readings, though — at least in my experience, professors will often provide links to articles or upload pages on Sakai to assign as reading for the first week or so of classes.
Buy or rent?
If you think you’re responsible enough to not lose or severely damage your book, and you’ll remember to return it at the end of the semester, then you should totally consider renting! It can save you a ton of money, and though your bio textbook may feel like an extension of your body by the end of a semester of hauling it around everywhere, I can almost promise you won’t miss it after returning.
It depends on where you rent your book from, but usually you should plan on treating it like a book you’re going to try and sell back to a bookstore at the end of the semester. For Student Stores, at least, this “generally means book spine intact, without excessive damage or any water damage to the cover or contents, all original pages intact, all original components present, and no excessive highlighting, writing or other markings. Normal use highlighting and writing is permitted.” Basically, think of it like a hotel room — you can totally get comfy, but don’t trash it if you want to avoid paying some fees.