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Get Textbook Smart By Linda Krajewski Expert Author Linda Krajewski

Fall semester at my college begins over a month from now, but yesterday I received an email from a newly registered student inquiring about textbooks. What a good move on his part! Thinking ahead about this significant chunk of your college budget can save you plenty of money, prevent lots of headaches, and help you be as prepared as possible for the first day of class. It's very wise to check into your textbooks as soon as you have registered for classes. Many students say "I never buy my textbooks until the first week of class, because I might want to drop the class." While this does make sense on one level, it is probably not the best long-term strategy. If you wait until classes have started to buy books, you don't have the luxury of time to search down the best price for your textbook. By then, you will need the book immediately and risk falling behind in class if you're waiting for your bargain to arrive. You also will greatly reduce your chances of saving money by buying a used book. Used textbooks move quickly out of campus bookstores, and you may be left with a considerably more expensive new book as your only choice. Even worse, you may find that the book is entirely out of stock. While instructors direct bookstores to purchase an adequate number of texts to cover their enrollments, things do happen such as ordering and delivery mistakes, understocks at the publisher's end, and additional students added to classes. If you get your textbooks early, you can even read the first couple of chapters before the first day of class. Every little extra edge helps. After you've registered for classes, check textbook information at your campus bookstore, either online or in person. There you should find the title, edition number, author, and ISBN (the unique identification number) of each book you need for your classes. It is very important to know the section number and instructor for each of your classes. For example, your campus may offer ten different sections of Introduction to Psychology taught by five different instructors. While some colleges do use the same textbook for all sections of a class, you will probably see several different introductory psychology textbooks on the shelf. Different


instructors have different textbook preferences, and you really want to make sure you have the same textbook as your instructor is using. If you plan to shop elsewhere than your campus bookstore, write down the title, edition number, author, and ISBN carefully. If your campus bookstore does not have or does not share textbook information, look up your instructor's email on and drop him/her a note asking for the title, edition number, author, and ISBN of the text. Believe it or not, your instructors and professors remember what it is like to be a student facing down an ugly textbook bill. You may also want to ask if using the next older edition of the book would be okay. For instance, if the instructor tells you the 4th edition is being used, ask if the 3rd edition would work. Keep in mind, however, that not just any textbook in the subject will do. In a developmental psychology class, I once had a student bring me a 10 year old textbook by an obscure author and ask me if it would work for the class. Unfortunately, the answer was no. Textbooks, on average, are updated every three years or so. Sometimes there are small changes; sometimes there are big changes. Expect textbooks in the sciences (unfortunately some of the most expensive ones) and other rapidly developing fields to be only acceptable in the current edition. The internet is invaluable in finding textbooks and getting them at the best price. I did ten minutes of casual online research on a text for my upcoming personality psychology class and turned up an array of choices (buy new, buy used, rent, online only) with a wide range of prices (buy new at $162.00 at a campus bookstore, buy used for $94.83 at another online site, online only access for $60.75, rent for $48.66 from a book rental service). I was able to look up most of these options all at once using DirectTextbook.Com. I am not at all affiliated with them, but I was quite impressed with seeing about 25 sources for the textbook with one click. Before deciding which textbook format to use, think about the pluses and minuses of each of them and the logistics in ordering them. New textbooks are expensive, but they are more likely to be immediately available for pickup or shipping if you've cut yourself short for time. Used textbooks online may be a one copy only deal, so order quickly and have a backup plan in place in case something goes awry, like an indefinite backorder. On book rental websites, note very carefully the period for which you would be renting a book. Quarters will rent for less than semesters, but if you're taking semester-length classes, only renting for a quarter could be problematic. Online only books might work well for you if you have a fast and reliable internet connection and are comfortable doing the intensive reading required for a textbook on screen. Unless clearly stated otherwise in the registration information or at the bookstore, textbooks are required. One of the most common gripes I hear from newly entered college students in my psychology classes is "I paid all this money for this textbook and we don't even use it in class!" That's right. This does not work like high school where students are using the book every day as part of class activities. You're supposed to be reading and using the textbook on your own to


form a basis of knowledge that will allow you to come to class better prepared to absorb the lecture materials and apply your knowledge in practical ways. The majority of college level learning takes place outside of the classroom and at the student's own direction. Textbooks play an essential part in that process. Read and use your textbooks on a regular basis and you will be pleasantly surprised by the results. Textbooks


Get Textbook Smart