Why NOT to buy text books from University bookstore? Cheap text books ?

In Student Life by KumarUpdated : 6 Comments

When I studied back in India, my text books were around Rs. 500 ($10) or even less for the most part.  They were from top book distributors like McGraw-Hill, Prentice Hall, Wiley, etc.  After I came to US, I wanted to buy books for my classes and I go to the book store, the prices of books were shocking.  Some books were $250..I was like “ What the heck, I got a similar book of McGraw-Hill for $10 back in India ?” …The reality is, if you look carefully, international editions have a clear note on them saying that “ Only for sale in countries like India, Sri lanka, Pakistan, etc”. I did not know why it was so when I bought books… Anyways,  the point is text books are very expensive in US and as a student it is not advisable to buy books paying full price in the University book store. Even used books in University book store are over priced. They are around 70% of the new book price. Bottom line, never buy books from book store.

How to buy Cheap text books in US ? Online or Friends  ?

As most of you know, the best place to buy books is online. As international students,  some of you may not be used to buying books online…if you have not, here you go…this is your chance !  The good thing about instructors is, they always mention the name of the book and the exact ISBN. If you have ISBN number, you can get the same book online. ISBN is unique for every book including editions. If your instructor does not post it, you can ask them or go to the University book store website and get the ISBN from there ( Use the Bookstore for Not buying their books J )

Here are the common places I usually buy books

  • Amazon.com
  • Half.com (eBay Company)
  • ValoreBooks.com
  • Ask someone who have taken the class, you can buy from them. No need to even pay for shipping.
  • You also should look at the University Bulletin boards in Student Unions. You can get good deals there. You can post a request too.
  • Some buy on Craigslist.com too, I never had though.
  • Now a days, Facebook Market place is a great place to buy books from your friends.

When you buy books from first online websites, you always want to look for the seller ratings and see the feedback by buyers. Do NOT just buy from random people unless there is no option. Also, they list the condition of the book, do not be too cheap and take a crappy book. Buy only that is like new or slightly used. If you plan well, you should only pay 25% -40% of the actual price of the book or even less depending on the book condition.

Do you have any other ideas to buy books for cheap in US ? Any other good websites with personal experience ?

Image Credit : http://www.flickr.com/photos/donshall/3922960654/sizes/m/


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Comments ( 6 )

  1. Akash

    Mr. Kumar,

    I have been reading all your articles and I must say you have done great work by leaving all your experiences open to MS/MBA aspirants so they can develop some confidence in them and come to US well prepared. 🙂

    Thank You for these!

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  3. john33

    This Guide sucks and coming from an american. Ebooks are often the same price and ironically if you want to save money than the best method is to purchase books from a foreign country. For variou the textbook market is not fairly priced most likely due to limited compeition and the fact that teachers are forced to change to newer revisions of their textbooks every few years including subjects that don’t change like math and history.
    I wrote an article for my college newspaper. The best deals I’ve found are purchasing books from England even with shipping/currency exchange, last time I saved over 70 dollars. Also you can purchase books from Canada and if your smart enough you can figure how to get any textbook for free in pdf form.


    First of all, lots of thanks for making the transition process smoother for people like us – going to US for higher studies or job. I am going this fall for PhD in CS.

    You’ve mentioned to buy books online. Well, even if you buy books at 20-25% of their actual international price, they’re pretty steep. What if I buy books from India or say mail my already possessed books to US via DHL. That’ll definitely save a lot of money. Is it illegal (I bought the books from where the LPEs are intended to be sold – India)?

  5. Dishant Sharma

    Respected Kumar,
    I come to know that US Universities have good library. It is not possible to borrow books from library or sit on weekends and study the library resources. What about the online option of so many ebooks that publisher claim as the cheap. Also how is Kindle e-reader?
    Thanking You

    1. administrator

      Well Dishant, Yes they do have good libraries. Yes, you can do it…but, you need a book for yourself. eBooks are almost the same price and for most of the Graduate level books, less ebooks. Kindle is a e-book reader, if there is no ebook you cannot do anything with Kindle.

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