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July 28, 2021

Textbooks - To buy or not to buy?

They look great on a bookshelf but if that is where they stay for a whole year – Is it worth shelling out to have them?

You will probably have received a reading list at the start of the academic year and the list can be a very long one.  Checking in your local bookshop or online, you may look at the list and wonder how your student loan can cope with it.

So, do you actually need to buy everything on the reading list?

The simple answer is probably not.

You will impress your university lecturers if you have a copy of everything which can get you in good books (pun intended!), and you’ll always have it within easy reach if you refer to it a lot.

The reading list or any other relevant material that you may refer to can make for a huge chunk coming out of your student loan.

There are ways to get what you need without breaking the bank.

First stop is the library.  This could be the university library which should have a few copies of books that are on official reading list, but you could also visit the council library where you may find what you need. You may also be able to borrow an electronic version of the books that you need.  Most libraries have electronic access to books, newspapers and journals, so you may be able to access those without having to go into the library.

Librarians are a wonderful source of knowledge as well, they have seen students come and go through their doors and just might be able to offer you a resource that you might not have thought of.

The downside with libraries is that they only have a finite amount of resources, only so much money to spend on books.  If you are after a book that is particularly popular, then you might be waiting a while to get your hands on it, even if you’ve placed a request for the book in your name.

Another option is to speak to other students on your course but in the higher years who may have already bought the book.  They may be willing to sell you the book for a price cheaper than buying new.  That will help you for getting the book, but also help them to raise a few pounds for their wallet.

You can also find second hand books on sites like Amazon, Ebay or Gumtree.  The price will be cheaper than new, but be wary of the price of postage.  A book that is new for £5 with free postage might be sold as used for £1 but with a delivery charge of £4. 

Finally, if you’ve exhausted all those options and you really want the book, then you are going to have to buy it new.  There are websites all over the place that you will be able to buy from such as Amazon, Wordery, Waterstones and WH Smith.  Use search engines to find the book you want at the right price and again check the delivery costs.

One final thing to mention about books in general. Check the date of the edition as with textbooks, things are updated and could be incorrect in an older version.

Jools Oughtibridge

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