Psychology textbooks are expensive, especially when students are asked to purchase several different texts for each course. For many students, just purchasing books for four or five classes each semester can end up costing several hundred dollars.
Fortunately, there are a number of things that you can do to save money while still getting the textbooks you need for your classes.
"Buying textbooks is always one of my biggest expenses each term," reports one reader. "I really need to cut back on my spending this semester, so lowering my textbook costs is a must."
By utilizing some money-saving strategies, looking for great deals and taking the time to check out sources of cheap or free books, you can save a lot of money on your psychology textbooks each semester.
Start by Determining Which Textbooks You Really Need
While you might be tempted to purchase every single book mentioned in your course syllabus, chances are high that you probably only really need the required text. In some cases, students end up spending hundreds of dollars on books for a class only to have their instructor never assign a single required reading.
Obviously, reading and studying psychology textbooks is a great way to add to your understanding and get more out of your courses. However, there are plenty of ways to find high quality psychology textbooks without overspending each semester.
There are a number of important factors you should consider before you buy a psychology textbook. Such things as whether you plan to keep the book after the course is over, your textbook budget and whether the book is required or supplementary reading can all play a role in your purchasing decisions.
Look for Free Psychology Texts
You might be surprised to learn that you might be able to find some psychology texts that are completely free. Older publications that have moved into the public domain are generally available online free of charge. These texts might include the writings of some the most famous thinkers in psychology, including Sigmund Freud, William James and Hugo Munsterberg.
"There are dozens of virtual libraries that offer reference material and literature with no cost to the reader," explains Jamie Littlefield, About.com's Guide to Distance Learning. "While newer texts are unlikely to be online, hundreds of older pieces with expired copyrights are all over the internet." Bartelby and Project Gutenberg are two online locations where you might start your search for free psychology texts.
Buying Used Psychology Textbooks Is Often Cheaper
One of the most common ways to save is to purchase used textbooks, which are often available for just a fraction of the price of new books. Kelci Lynn, About.com's Guide to College Life, suggests asking others students on campus about their experiences buying used textbooks online.
"Just because a site seems great online doesn't mean it's great for your campus," she writes. Check out your campus bookstore to see the selection and prices of used textbooks, and then compare prices at online retailers include Amazon, Barnes and Noble, eBay and Half.com. Start shopping early, however, since used copies tend to sell out quickly.
Save Money By Renting Psychology Textbooks
If you are used to buying your textbooks, renting them might be an option that you have not considered. Fortunately, there are a number of online websites that allow you to rent a variety of different textbooks. About.com's Guide to Continuing Education, Deb Peterson, suggests checking the retailer’s policies carefully to see what their guidelines are in terms of highlighting and writing in rented textbooks. She also recommends visiting your campus bookstore to see if they have a rental program. In some cases, textbooks rentals can be anywhere from 40 to 60 percent lower than the regular sale price of each book.
Check Out Digital Psychology Textbook Options
Digital textbooks can be an excellent and affordable option. "In addition to being much cheaper, digital textbooks are also environmentally-friendly," writes Karen Schweitzer, About.com's Guide to Business School. If you don't mind reading your textbooks in a digital format, either on your computer or an electronic book device (such as a Kindle or Sony Reader), this might be a great money-saving solution.
In many cases, you can download the e-book version of a text at a significantly lower price than you would pay for a hard copy of the book. E-books can be a great alternative for distance education students, especially those living overseas.