Classes start today, which means it’s syllabus-collecting time. Book-buying time will come next week, when you’ve figured out which books are actually necessary. Liberal Studies students: literally everything you’re assigned is available via Project Gutenberg. Everyone else, listen up.
Buying from the NYU Bookstore is unequivocally a massive waste of money. Here at Local we feel pretty strongly about this. There is only one circumstance under which you should set foot in the NYU Bookstore, and that is if you are one of those brave science students with lab manuals and lecture notes and … oh, the horror.
For everything else, there’s the Internet. Let us walk you through this:
1. Hit up the NYU Bookstore’s price comparison.
Hey, the bookstore has its uses. You can search by student ID or by course, but only pay attention to the books you actually need. The bookstore will sort by cost and show you where to find the cheapest books. If you’re willing to enter ISBNs manually, though, we find that AllBookstores.com tends to be more accurate and up-to-date.
2. The cheapest books are basically always at Half.com.
It’s freakish, but be open to renting. If you need to scribble in your books, skip to step 3.
3. Get Amazon Prime.
Do you seriously not have Amazon Prime yet? Students get it free for six months, which will last you this whole semester, but it is clutch in these early need-that-novel-by-Thursday moments.
4. It’s 2014. Get comfortable with e-books.
If you have a Kindle, a Nook, or an iPad, this is a more natural choice. But if you can adjust to reading on your laptop or on your phone, e-books will save you all the money in the world. If it’s in the public domain, you know where to go to get your Enlightenment philosophy and Romantic novels for free. If not, go ahead and get an e-book from the NYU Bookstore. Sixty dollars feels soul-sucking for a math textbook, but it’s half the price of a physical copy, and if you get it through CourseSmart you can even read it with an app on your phone. If you need a physical copy, though, ain’t no shame in the old school, so see steps 1-3.
5. For the nerds out there: become a Barnes and Noble member.
Let’s be real, all the real nerds are on IndieBound.)You can get a free two-month membership for textbook season and it’ll get you free express shipping, 40% off hardcover bestsellers, and 10% off almost everything else. This is mostly useful for contemporary fiction, so holler at your English majors. Also the little green membership card is really swanky.
6. BIGWORDS is worth giving a shot just for the app.
Seriously, they have a great app.
7. Friends and classmates are built-in bookshares.
See your year’s Facebook group, which has inevitably been updating you with the latest organic chemistry notes for sale for $450. (Seriously. “Will be given through a flash drive in person.”) Can’t track down an affordable copy of that introductory physics tome? Ask around. Split one with your roommate or give a sophomore thirty bucks for hers.
8. Or, y’know, don’t buy your books.
Depending on your major, this is not a totally unfeasible option. And for the love of Stokstad, children, do not buy that art history e-book, it is entirely a suggestion. But in all honesty, your books are probably sitting in the course reserves waiting to be loved. Bobst is a beautiful place.