Waiting for Books
Okay, honestly, this is the kind of thing I say “Oh bother…” to and brush aside, but it’s been on my mind and I’m sure it’s something we can all reminisce about. What am I talking about? BOOKS. Or, more specifically, the nuance of ordering new school books and wondering when they will arrive and if I will survive class in the meantime. And yes, I’m kind of being dramatic. I usually find workarounds until books arrive. But you have to agree it’s kind of funny how expensive textbooks are and how little you use them; or, alternatively, it’s funny how much you need them in the first few weeks, and how late they promise to come.
To illustrate the confusion: This week I’m in a class where my first assignment requires a reading from the textbook, and it’s due on Sunday, but the book won’t come until the Tuesday afterwards. Meanwhile, the math book I ordered over Christmas break said it wouldn’t come for two more weeks. So my professor told me it is available for free online as well (perfectly legally). Now that I know that (too late to save myself the money), the book arrived yesterday as a fun little surprise. Fortunately it looks like a really good book, and it will be nice to have a physical copy. Still, though… you get the point.
Anyway, for those of you who are less on the reminiscing side of the story and more on the “I have never had to wonder about textbooks before and don’t know what I’m doing” side, or it feels like your pockets are suddenly uncomfortably lightweight, here are some tips and workarounds as you start off future semesters.
- TALK TO YOUR PROFESSOR. Most professors are aware you might not have your books for the first week or two, so if you really need the book for an assignment but don’t have it yet, tell them that. The professor will likely give you extra time, or they will try to find a pdf copy for the first chapter or two to put up on Blackboard.
- Don’t go straight to the bookstore! Look up the ISBN number of the book as listed on the bookstore website; you can usually find a cheaper copy on Amazon or another platform.
- Ask an upperclassmen if they have old books. They (probably) don’t need them anymore and are happy to share.
- Share books with other students in your class. If this works out, sometimes you don’t need to buy the book at all.
- Search for an online version. You can often get online subscriptions which are cheaper than the textbook itself, and you can even find some older textbooks as free pdf’s — legal ones! This doesn’t always work, but as my little story shows, it happens often for my math books…
- Order them during break before classes start, or at least the ones that you know you need (sometimes you want to check with your professor if it’s really expensive or something, because the syllabus or the bookstore site might say “required” but it’s actually just highly recommended). Then you will have a greater chance of having them for the first week.
I'm absolutely certain many of you have more tips on how to manage book-buying, as you have had more experience and probably more creative ideas, so if you catch me on campus please share your wisdom! For anyone else, I hope this was a helpful little tip sheet, and have a happy new semester :)