1L Guide to Buying Cheap Textbooks

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theRobotpimp
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1L Guide to Buying Cheap Textbooks

Postby theRobotpimp » Sun Jul 31, 2011 7:24 pm

Law school is very expensive and many students are on a tight budget. Legal textbooks can eat away at that budget, costing as much as $200 per book. Below is a short guide for 1L's on how to find the best deals on textbooks.

1) Buy used books
There is really no good reason to buy a brand new, shrink-wrapped textbook. Unless your professor requires a textbook that was just published a month ago, you should be able to find a used copy online. Some people argue that they need a new book because they prefer clean pages. However, there are plenty of used books out there that have no markings. Out of the six used textbooks I bought for 1L year, only one of them had highlighting on the pages. When buying online, read the seller descriptions for used books and you will know if the pages are clean. If you stick to used textbooks and aren't too picky, you should never pay more than a maximum of $50-60 per book.

2) Avoid the campus bookstore
The only good reason to buy a textbook at the campus bookstore is if you can't buy it online or if it costs the same online so you save on shipping costs by buying on campus. Campus bookstores are the most expensive place to buy books. Even the used and even rental books one can find there cost significantly more than a used book online. Only buy textbooks at the campus bookstore if you have no other option or it is cost efficient. Reject the urge to just pre-order your books through the campus bookstore and pick them up the day before class.

3) Buy textbooks early
If you have your required book list now there is no reason to wait to buy books. Rising 2L's put their books up for sale online at the end of 1L year. The more of the same book there is online, the more competitive the prices will be. The closer it gets to the first day of school, the less used books there will be for sale online because other 1L's are buying them all. Therefore, you have a better chance of getting a good deal on a textbook if you buy now compared to buying in mid-August. In addition, the closer it is to the first day of school the more you will have to pay in shipping costs. Standard media mail shipping costs $3.99 and takes 5-14 days. If you wait and then have to pay expedited shipping, you waste money.

3) Shop around
Amazon marketplace is a great place to find used textbooks, but it may not always be the best deal. Be sure to look at several different online retailers (see list below).

4) Use coupons
Even if you buy used books online from other students you can still find coupons online to reduce costs. Once you locate the book you want, Google the name of the website plus the word coupon to find discounts (e.g. "half.com coupons"). Websites like retailmenot.com have tons of coupons to give you deals like free shipping, 15% off or $3 off if you spend $30. Finding these coupons only takes a few minutes and can save you even more money. Also, if you haven't signed up for Amazon Prime (1 year of free shipping for students) you should do so.

5) Re-sell your used books
Why keep your textbooks after 1L year? Unless you like them as decorations you should sell them back. You should be able to get at least a 50% return, so the price you pay for them now will be half if you factor this in. This will also give you money to buy your books for 2L and 3L year. You can re-sell your books on many of the websites listed below.

6) List of online textbook retailers
Below is a list of online retailers where you can buy textbooks. If anyone knows of a great site that is not on this list, please respond and I will add it:

http://www.ebay.com
http://www.amazon.com
http://www.barnesandnoble.com
http://www.barristerbooks.com
http://www.half.com
--LinkRemoved--
http://www.addall.com
http://www.powells.com/used/law/27
http://www.abebooks.com
http://www.craigslist.org
http://www.alibris.com
http://www.ecampus.com
http://www.bookrenter.com
http://www.cheapesttextbooks.com
Last edited by theRobotpimp on Thu Aug 04, 2011 9:12 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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skw
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Re: 1L Guide to Buying Cheap Textbooks

Postby skw » Sun Jul 31, 2011 8:05 pm

This is great info, thanks.

sarahlawg
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Re: 1L Guide to Buying Cheap Textbooks

Postby sarahlawg » Sun Jul 31, 2011 8:15 pm

I have heard on this site a bunch of different times to get new books for your fall semester and used books your spring semester. Any insight on what the rational might be behind this?

merc280
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Re: 1L Guide to Buying Cheap Textbooks

Postby merc280 » Sun Jul 31, 2011 8:18 pm

campusbookrentals.com also has good prices for semester rentals, and they let you highlight the books.

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theRobotpimp
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Re: 1L Guide to Buying Cheap Textbooks

Postby theRobotpimp » Sun Jul 31, 2011 8:41 pm

sarahlawg wrote:I have heard on this site a bunch of different times to get new books for your fall semester and used books your spring semester. Any insight on what the rational might be behind this?


I have never heard of that strategy before. Not sure what that will accomplish.

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Naked Dude
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Re: 1L Guide to Buying Cheap Textbooks

Postby Naked Dude » Sun Jul 31, 2011 9:57 pm

Since some people don't get booklists until orientation, a couple days before classes start, and ordering them online takes time (at least more time than going to a bookstore): do you think it's ok to place a non-Amazon prime order? I.e., is it ok to not have a casebook until towards the end of the first week of classes? I figure it's worth waiting to save the money but I don't know.

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thecilent
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Re: 1L Guide to Buying Cheap Textbooks

Postby thecilent » Sun Jul 31, 2011 10:24 pm

Wait so we should look online and try to buy used books? zoMG thank you!!

schooner
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Re: 1L Guide to Buying Cheap Textbooks

Postby schooner » Mon Aug 01, 2011 12:42 am

...
Last edited by schooner on Sun May 03, 2015 12:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

071816
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Re: 1L Guide to Buying Cheap Textbooks

Postby 071816 » Mon Aug 01, 2011 1:00 am

I didn't see it listed earlier, but http://www.bookrenter.com/ is also a useful resource.

firemed
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Re: 1L Guide to Buying Cheap Textbooks

Postby firemed » Mon Aug 01, 2011 1:02 am

Naked Dude wrote:Since some people don't get booklists until orientation, a couple days before classes start, and ordering them online takes time (at least more time than going to a bookstore): do you think it's ok to place a non-Amazon prime order? I.e., is it ok to not have a casebook until towards the end of the first week of classes? I figure it's worth waiting to save the money but I don't know.



As a student don't you get a free amazon prime membership or something?

I thought I did...

merc280
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Re: 1L Guide to Buying Cheap Textbooks

Postby merc280 » Mon Aug 01, 2011 1:07 am

firemed wrote:
Naked Dude wrote:Since some people don't get booklists until orientation, a couple days before classes start, and ordering them online takes time (at least more time than going to a bookstore): do you think it's ok to place a non-Amazon prime order? I.e., is it ok to not have a casebook until towards the end of the first week of classes? I figure it's worth waiting to save the money but I don't know.



As a student don't you get a free amazon prime membership or something?

I thought I did...



They also have like 60day trial memberships which should cover most of the semesters book purchases.

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Naked Dude
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Re: 1L Guide to Buying Cheap Textbooks

Postby Naked Dude » Mon Aug 01, 2011 1:10 am

firemed wrote:
Naked Dude wrote:Since some people don't get booklists until orientation, a couple days before classes start, and ordering them online takes time (at least more time than going to a bookstore): do you think it's ok to place a non-Amazon prime order? I.e., is it ok to not have a casebook until towards the end of the first week of classes? I figure it's worth waiting to save the money but I don't know.



As a student don't you get a free amazon prime membership or something?

I thought I did...


Yeah but used books via 3rd party sellers

firemed
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Joined: Wed Aug 11, 2010 7:36 pm

Re: 1L Guide to Buying Cheap Textbooks

Postby firemed » Mon Aug 01, 2011 1:13 am

Naked Dude wrote:
firemed wrote:
Naked Dude wrote:Since some people don't get booklists until orientation, a couple days before classes start, and ordering them online takes time (at least more time than going to a bookstore): do you think it's ok to place a non-Amazon prime order? I.e., is it ok to not have a casebook until towards the end of the first week of classes? I figure it's worth waiting to save the money but I don't know.



As a student don't you get a free amazon prime membership or something?

I thought I did...


Yeah but used books via 3rd party sellers



Right... I remember now how annoyed I was that the Amazon Prime didn't do shit for me for three of my books and I had to just bluff through the first two weeks of class that one semester.

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Naked Dude
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Re: 1L Guide to Buying Cheap Textbooks

Postby Naked Dude » Mon Aug 01, 2011 1:35 am

firemed wrote:
Naked Dude wrote:
firemed wrote:
Naked Dude wrote:Since some people don't get booklists until orientation, a couple days before classes start, and ordering them online takes time (at least more time than going to a bookstore): do you think it's ok to place a non-Amazon prime order? I.e., is it ok to not have a casebook until towards the end of the first week of classes? I figure it's worth waiting to save the money but I don't know.



As a student don't you get a free amazon prime membership or something?

I thought I did...


Yeah but used books via 3rd party sellers



Right... I remember now how annoyed I was that the Amazon Prime didn't do shit for me for three of my books and I had to just bluff through the first two weeks of class that one semester.


very frustrating. the one fly in the ointment there. hopefully i get my booklist sooner rather than later.

firemed
Posts: 1195
Joined: Wed Aug 11, 2010 7:36 pm

Re: 1L Guide to Buying Cheap Textbooks

Postby firemed » Mon Aug 01, 2011 1:58 am

Naked Dude wrote:
firemed wrote:

Right... I remember now how annoyed I was that the Amazon Prime didn't do shit for me for three of my books and I had to just bluff through the first two weeks of class that one semester.


very frustrating. the one fly in the ointment there. hopefully i get my booklist sooner rather than later.


I get mine two days before class. This annoys me.

Luckily I get my schedule two weeks before and I should be able to guess a significant number of the books in advance. Still, I don't see why they have to gouge us like this.

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Naked Dude
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Re: 1L Guide to Buying Cheap Textbooks

Postby Naked Dude » Mon Aug 01, 2011 2:22 am

theRobotpimp wrote:Law school is very expensive and many students are on a tight budget. Legal textbooks can eat away at that budget, costing as much as $200 per book. Below is a short guide for 1L's on how to find the best deals on textbooks.

1) Buy used books
There is really no good reason to buy a brand new, shrink-wrapped textbook. Unless your professor requires a textbook that was just published a month ago, you should be able to find a used copy online. Some people argue that they need a new book because they prefer clean pages. However, there are plenty of used books out there that have no markings. Out of the six used textbooks I bought for 1L year, only one of them had highlighting on the pages. When buying online, read the seller descriptions for used books and you will know if the pages are clean. If you stick to used textbooks and aren't too picky, you should never pay more than a maximum of $50-60 per book.

2) Avoid the campus bookstore
The only good reason to buy a textbook at the campus bookstore is if you can't buy it online or if it costs the same online so you save on shipping costs by buying on campus. Campus bookstores are the most expensive place to buy books. Even the used and even rental books one can find there cost significantly more than a used book online. Only buy textbooks at the campus bookstore if you have no other option or it is cost efficient. Reject the urge to just pre-order your books through the campus bookstore and pick them up the day before class.

3) Buy textbooks early
If you have your required book list now there is no reason to wait to buy books. Rising 2L's put their books up for sale online at the end of 1L year. The more of the same book there is online, the more competitive the prices will be. The closer it gets to the first day of school, the less used books there will be for sale online because other 1L's are buying them all. Therefore, you have a better chance of getting a good deal on a textbook if you buy now compared to buying in mid-August. In addition, the closer it is to the first day of school the more you will have to pay in shipping costs. Standard media mail shipping costs $3.99 and takes 5-14 days. If you wait and then have to pay expedited shipping, you waste money.

3) Shop around
Amazon marketplace is a great place to find used textbooks, but it may not always be the best deal. Be sure to look at several different online retailers (see list below).

4) Use coupons
Even if you buy used books online from other students you can still find coupons online to reduce costs. Once you locate the book you want, Google the name of the website plus the word coupon to find discounts (e.g. "half.com coupons"). Websites like retailmenot.com have tons of coupons to give you deals like free shipping, 15% off or $3 off if you spend $30. Finding these coupons only takes a few minutes and can save you even more money. Also, if you haven't signed up for Amazon Prime (1 year of free shipping for students) you should do so.

5) Re-sell your used books
Why keep your textbooks after 1L year? Unless you like them as decorations you should sell them back. You should be able to get at least a 50% return, so the price you pay for them now will be half if you factor this in. This will also give you money to buy your books for 2L and 3L year. You can re-sell your books on many of the websites listed below.

6) List of online textbook retailers
Below is a list of online retailers where you can buy textbooks. If anyone knows of a great site that is not on this list, please respond and I will add it:

http://www.ebay.com
http://www.amazon.com
http://www.barnesandnoble.com
http://www.barristerbooks.com
http://www.half.com
--LinkRemoved--
http://www.addall.com
http://www.powells.com/used/law/27
http://www.abebooks.com
http://www.craigslist.org
http://www.alibris.com
http://www.ecampus.com


For those of us with credit card limits, when do you recommend purchasing supplements?

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bk1
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Re: 1L Guide to Buying Cheap Textbooks

Postby bk1 » Mon Aug 01, 2011 4:26 am

thecilent wrote:Wait so we should look online and try to buy used books? zoMG thank you!!


lol my thoughts exactly.

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Bildungsroman
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Re: 1L Guide to Buying Cheap Textbooks

Postby Bildungsroman » Mon Aug 01, 2011 4:30 am

bk1 wrote:
thecilent wrote:Wait so we should look online and try to buy used books? zoMG thank you!!


lol my thoughts exactly.

To be fair, I think the advice about looking for coupons and getting free Amazon Prime is pretty useful and something that people might not automatically know.

Plus, you know the kind of people TLS attracts. This thread will be an easy link to give if a bunch of neurotic types come in panicking about finding textbooks.

redfern86
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Re: 1L Guide to Buying Cheap Textbooks

Postby redfern86 » Mon Aug 01, 2011 10:16 am

cheapesttextbooks.com is also a good resource. It compiles results for Amazon, Ebay, Half, Textbooks, etc, so you only have to do one search.

morris248
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Re: 1L Guide to Buying Cheap Textbooks

Postby morris248 » Mon Aug 01, 2011 9:42 pm

For those of us with credit card limits, when do you recommend purchasing supplements?


Here is a good list for supplements.

http://www.law-school-books.com/law-school-study-aids.html

You really don't need the latest and you can usually find an older edition cheap. I would suggest Examples & Explanations
from the first day. Then anything else midterm.

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theRobotpimp
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Re: 1L Guide to Buying Cheap Textbooks

Postby theRobotpimp » Thu Aug 04, 2011 9:22 pm

Naked Dude wrote:
For those of us with credit card limits, when do you recommend purchasing supplements?


You should check your law school library to see if they have copies of supplements available for free. If you have to have your own, buy them at the beginning of the semester. Some people wait until reading period to buy them, but I used them all year. If you buy used, older editions you should be able to get really great deals that won't max out your credit cards.

09042014
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Re: 1L Guide to Buying Cheap Textbooks

Postby 09042014 » Thu Aug 04, 2011 9:24 pm

Buy old editions, it is mostly the same.

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iThwl
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Re: 1L Guide to Buying Cheap Textbooks

Postby iThwl » Thu Jun 07, 2012 11:43 pm

Nice tips on buying cheap textbooks, thanks!!




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