17 Textbook Companies That Need To Take A Long Look In The Mirror


This textbook requires that students go online to read a chapter, when it could have just, y’know, been in the book they already bought:


E-textbooks are fun, because you get stuff like this in an obnoxious attempt to discourage piracy:

alert saying the person has copied 103 of the max 161 words allowed to be copied

So, how can you avoid all, most, or hopefully at least some of this nonsense? Here are some tips:

1. Check the Open Education Network for any textbooks that might be available for free:

The site features a library of more than 1,000 textbooks available in digital form that you can “download, edit, and distribute” at no cost to you. This collection is limited to textbooks that have an open license, so ones that are owned by one of the few textbook monopolies might not be available.

2. Also try Project Gutenberg for free books:

Project Gutenberg is usually better for public domain works that you might need to read for literature classes, like Pride and Prejudice. Those books usually aren’t hard to find cheap, but when you have to spend a bunch on other books, any money saved is helpful. 

3. Use price comparison tools to find the best place to buy:

Textbook prices can vary WILDLY, so a price comparison tool can be a fast and easy way to save potentially a lot of money. SlugBooks is a good example of a comparison tool. Just search the name, author, or ISBN of the book you need, and it’ll (hopefully) show you several different places to buy the book. Just by searching “chemistry” and looking at the first result, I found that the price of that textbook varied from $80 to $235 for purchase and $35 to $190 to rent!

4. Rent, buy used, or seek out seniors:

I can tell you from experience that sometimes, reselling a textbook at a store gets you so little money that sometimes you just don’t bother to do it. So if you happen to know a senior (or at least a more senior student than you) who took your class, it’s worth asking if they have an old copy. Of course, you can try to rent (although we saw above that that doesn’t always mean savings). Buying used is always an option as well, but sometimes publishers will change things around just enough to make using an old textbook impractical. However, by teaming up with one of your classmates, you can probably get around it by making sure you’re reading the right pages and doing the right assignments.

5. Ask your professor:

Listen, some professors put their own published works on the syllabus, so this might not always work. But other professors are often sympathetic to students dealing with textbook monopolies, so you can always ask if there’s a spare copy available. At the very least, they should be able to let you know if it’s ok to use an older edition.

6. Wait until you attend class and see a syllabus before buying all your books:

Sometimes books will be labeled as “required” by bookstores, but the professor will only consider the book to be optional. By waiting until the first day of class, you should have an idea of what you absolutely need to buy, straight from the professor themselves. Of course, you do run the risk of being bookless for a week or so if any of your books need to be shipped.

7. I’m not suggesting anything by saying this, but do a little googling or some searching on Reddit:

Subreddits like r/LifeProTips will often have helpful suggestions about all kinds of topics, including finding college textbooks. Of course, I wouldn’t recommend you do anything illegal, like pirate a PDF of your textbook. Definitely don’t search Reddit or Google for more information and then do that.

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