SUGGESTIONS & STRATEGIES FOR STUDENTS GETTING THE BEST DEAL ON TEXTBOOKS
As soon as the online class schedule comes out (usually in October, April and May), go to the online class listing for the section in which you’re planning on enrolling.
All the way to the right of the course listing is a green link “Book.” Click this link to see what book(s) is(are) required for that specific class and instructor.
Some of us wait until we’ve attended the first class meeting to buy our books. We sometimes do this because instructors occasionally change their books, or you may get to class and learn that you don’t really need a personal copy because the library reserve has one. But this is rare, and starting early is definitely the way to go if you want to save the most money.
Campus libraries usually have a reserve room or desk where instructors leave copies of their books for students to use. The Library Reserve has many textbooks but not all. You can search their reserve catalog to save. The textbooks on reserve usually have a short loan period, typically 2 hours. You can use this time to do homework or make copies of your homework assignment. Copies are 10 – 15 cents per copy. Try going to the library early in the morning. The chances of the book being checked out are higher during lunch and evening times. (More information here: Library Reserve.)
Libraries generally don’t buy textbooks, so you’re not likely to find an E-textbook through your campus library, but many instructors, especially English instructors, assign novels (think The Kite Runner or plays by Shakespeare) for class readings, and libraries provide access to many e-books that you can read online. Click here to see e-books from the CCSF College library’s catalog.
You can also try NetLibrary, which has a huge collection of e-books. You can register with them for free.
The Associated Students Bookloan Program on Ocean Campus
The AS Bookloan is a student-run program that loans out textbooks for free with a 1-semester-length loan period. And you can get priority if you’re eligible for financial aid or for the BOG fee waiver. Bookloan is currently a pilot project for the U.S. Dept. of Education and they’re working on improving and expanding to serve a lot more students!
Again it is best to start early. As soon as you know the book you need (check online class schedule to find out), check Bookloan’s website to see if they carry it (they usually update their inventory lists 2 weeks before classes start). Bookloan opens about a week before school starts. Check Bookloan's website a couple weeks before the first day of class so you know when the opening day will be and the priority requirements. (Bookloan textbook adoption guidelines).
NOTE: Be prepared to stand in line. The first few days are very busy and the line sometimes goes outside, so dress accordingly.
E.O.P.S. - (more info coming soon)
The Campus Bookstore
You can buy your books from the campus bookstore. All you need to know is what class you’ll be in, and they’ll help you find your books. We’ve found that the fastest way to get your books early is to go to your student account where you add/drop classes online. You will find there a blue link "Click Here to View Textbook List." You can reserve the books for your class by buying them online through the bookstore. This often gives you a better chance of getting a used book. If you have a late registration date, it's best not to wait until you register to buy the books you need.
When you go to the bookstore, go before school starts so you’re more likely to snag a used (cheaper) copy. The store is open before school starts, so don’t wait until the first day of classes (keep in mind buy-back when you’re purchasing your book – we’ll explain further down).
NOTE: the bookstore usually gives full refunds for books returned before the last day to drop (a week or two after school starts). After that you’ll get back less than what you paid for the book. If you’re thinking about dropping your class make sure to return your book ASAP to get a full refund. Remember if you take the shrink-wrap off of a book you most likely won’t get a full refund.
Bookstore Textbook Rentals
The campus bookstore also offers book rentals. Renting your books can definitely save you a lot of money compared to buying it. Check out the bookstore's Rental Website. If you’ll be using the book for more than one semester, it's usually a better idea to buy, not rent, since rentals are generally about 50% of the price you’d pay to buy the book. Books that you write in (workbooks) are not available for rent. You’ll need to know the ISBN, title, and author of the book. (You can find that information from the “Book” link in the online course listings.)
Electronic textbooks are also an option. You can purchase the entire electronic book or just certain chapters and view the material on a computer, e-reader, or some smart phones. Keep in mind there are some restrictions: these E-Textbooks expire after a semester or two, so don’t count on being able to sell or give it to a classmate. Access to the full text is not always available all at one time, and you might not have access to print whatever you’d like.
Some of us really like them because we don’t have to lug around the heavy book. Our survey shows that most people prefer physical textbooks. It's certainly nice to have books that you can write in. Taking notes in e-books is different -- as you can imagine. Click here for interesting information about e-textbooks.
THERE ARE MANY OTHER WAYS TO SAVE MONEY ON TEXTBOOKS. TRY ONLINE:
You’ll need a credit or debit card to buy anything online.
- Half.com -- Ebay’s textbook site
- textbooks.com (sometimes has guaranteed buyback and usually free shipping)
- Craigslist.org (Try searching for the title you need, and you might find someone on campus who can sell it to you – it’s probably a better idea to meet this person in a public place or with a friend.)
- Chegg.com (online rental)
Shop around until you find the best price.
NOW, ABOUT TEXTBOOK BUY BACK...
The Bookstore explains it really well on their Buy Back web page. Visit the page for the info you need to get the most money back. Keep in mind: the bookstore also buys back books regardless of where they were purchased.
This help page is brought to you by students on the City College of San Francisco’s Textbook Affordability Task Force: Teandra Johnson, Katie Gelardi, and Deena Samii