Be Book Smart: Info for students
Textbooks are one of the largest expenses for students after tuition, rent and food. 88% of students at the University of Alberta think they’re paying too much for textbooks, shelling out an estimated $1750 per year.
Students and instructors can work together to help reduce the burden of high textbook costs. Information for instructors can be found here.
9 Tips to Save You Money
Think Before You Buy. $1750 can go a long way. On a tight student budget, $1750 could pay for more than 800 cups of coffee... or a new laptop computer. Consider these options before buying your textbooks:
- Buy used
- Ask about older editions
- Shop around
- Share with a friend
- Buy from a classmate
- Try an eBook
- Search online
- Talk to your Professor about an OER
- Borrow from the library
Buying and selling used books is a great way to keep costs low and give money back to other students. Located on the main floor of SUB, SUBtitles consigns used books on behalf of students. You can also try the U of A Bookstore, local used book stores, or online retailers like Amazon, AbeBooks and Kijiji. Check prices if you're required to purchase access codes separately, though, as sometimes publishers bundle them with new textbooks to reduce the value of used books.
Ask About Older Editions
There may not be a substantial difference between previous editions and the one you’re supposed to buy. Ask your professor if you can use an old edition and if they can provide you with page numbers or required content from the newer edition. Publishers have a financial incentive to constantly produce new editions, as it helps limit used textbook sales, but constantly revised textbooks may not be necessary for all your classes.
This website actually compares different textbook editions that you can check out.
The Bookstore at the U of A isn’t the only place you can buy your textbooks. Check out the websites and prices of a few competitors first. Online retailers like Amazon and eBay often have lower prices thanks to their online-only business model. You can also try Indigo / Chapters / Coles, or even a bookstore at another University in the city. When you’re spending up to $1750, isn’t it worth taking a few minutes to look around?
Share with a Friend
Why not buy your book and share it with a friend in the same section? It cuts your costs in half, and gives you someone to study with. If you both need the book at the same time, you can make photocopies of the sections you need.
Buy from a Classmate
It’s likely that a U of A student has already taken your class, and is selling the book that you need at a low price. Check the campus bulletin boards, the InfoLink Book Registry, the UAlberta Used Books Facebook page, Books2Go, or Faculty Association used book sales. Or put a call out on Facebook or Twitter to see if anyone has an old copy they don’t want any more.
Try an eBook
Save on paper! Check Campus eBookstore, Amazon, Google Books, Google Play, CourseSmart, or Kobo for eBooks. Be careful, though, eBooks may not always be cheaper, and some rentals may expire before your course is over.
Search the net for free options. Open Access materials, books in the public domain, and other online resources are widely available at no cost. Try the Guttenberg project, or your favourite search engine. The internet public library is not longer being updated but may still be useful.
Talk to your Professor about an OER
Professors are the primary decision-makers when it comes to your textbooks. Ask them if they have recommendations for alternative materials, customized course packs, or electronic materials. An OER is an online, free resource for students and faculty. Most importantly, ask them how often you’re likely to use the book throughout the course and the rest of your career.
Borrow from the Library
University of Alberta Libraries has many required course textbooks available for short term loan, and they also have books on every academic subject out there. Check out their online resources. And if they don’t have it, submit a request to add a textbook to the collection. Another option is to try the Edmonton Public Library.