You shouldn't buy books from the school bookstore | Wikimedia
You shouldn’t buy books from the school book­store | Wiki­media

In just a couple weeks stu­dents will be flocking to the book­store to sell back their books, hoping to get, at most, half their money back on the fortune spent on text­books in August. Some will be lucky to get one dollar back on that $15-novel for an English class. But there is a better way: Don’t even buy from the book­store in the first place.  Take advantage of online book­sellers to stock up for the spring semester, and you’ll save at least 50 percent of your money.

Don’t pay $18 for a new copy of Robert Fagles’ “Odyssey” from the book­store. Don’t even pay $13.50 for a used one. Amazon is selling that edition for $10.97 right now, and you can buy it used from Abe­books for $3.48. If you buy from the book­store, you lose money. Lots of it.

Trust me — as a history major, I spent less than $100 on books this semester by buying entirely from online sellers. If I’d bought every­thing from the book­store, I would have paid more than $300. Of course some majors — like math majors, for example — require expensive text­books that will be pretty expensive no matter where you buy them. But if you want to save money in all your other classes, ditch the book­store.

Search engines like and scour the web for the best deals on books, so they do most of the hard work for you. Often the best deals are from obscure sites like and, beating out more well-known online sellers like and I’ve had great expe­ri­ences with both.

Rentals can also be a more viable option than buying from the book­store: renting text­books is often cheaper than buying, espe­cially with regard to math, science, and eco­nomics texts. Most online sellers offer rental options, and some will cover your shipping costs. The one thing to watch out for is dead­lines: all sellers require you to return your rentals by a spec­ified date, so if you rent a text make sure you don’t have to return it before finals.

And don’t forget about the library. If you’re majoring in history, English, French, or Classics, chances are you can find some of your required reading in the Mossey Library — this semester alone I checked out at least a third of my books from Mossey. Watch out, though: the library might not carry the exact edition you need, which may cause problems in class, depending on your professor’s stan­dards and require­ments.

The book­store can be great: the employees are friendly and helpful, and if you need Hillsdale para­pher­nalia, that’s the place to shop, but don’t buy your text­books from the college. You’re already paying tuition, room, and board — why spend a fortune on books when you can get the right edition in good con­dition some­where online for so much less?

Ms. Patrick is a senior studying history and jour­nalism.