Alright, tip number one, don’t go out and buy a book just because it says it’s used for English 101. Every teacher can chose what texts they wish to use. Sometimes there’s a consensus within the department, but even there you may have a teacher that feels passionately about using a certain text over the department selection. Wait until you have registered for classes and you either get the option in your online college account to “buy textbooks here” or hear from your instructor what books you’ll be using. Chances are that you won’t have to wait that long, but if it’s not extremely clear, don’t waste your time trying to get a book. Some teachers will even say once class starts, “the recommended book to purchase for this course is Barney’s Super English Lessons for Beginners, but I won’t be teaching from that.” In my experience it’s best to verify with the professor or online class instructor if the books that were recommended you are the actual ones you will be using. If you get your syllabus ahead of time you can be reasonably safe in trusting the books it lists as syllabi are typically written up by instructors.

Good, now that that’s out of the way and I just saved you some big headaches, let’s move onto where you get your online college textbooks. The first and most obvious place you can look is through your institution’s own bookstore. This makes it easy for students to not have to go searching, but you are likely going to pay for this convenience. Some online college programs have specialized curriculum that you can get nowhere else but through them. These may include the price of the texts in the cost of tuition, especially if it’s digital content such as ebooks or video lectures.

If the books that you are going to be using for classes are real physical books that are used by other universities and you want to save money on them, you will want to make sure that you have some data when you begin your search online for the best bargain.

If you can’t just print out a book list then grab the title of the text, what edition it is, the year it was published (the same book can have multiple years because of different editions or reprints of the same edition), the authors and the ISBN (this is usually enough to help you find the exact version you need, but the other info can help you verify that, just in case it was miscataloged).

Looking for bargains may mean that you’re getting them used, but used books don’t always look like they’ve been run over by a car. Many online vendors of books give some idea of the condition of book if it is used, most notably Amazon.com. If you like new books, just search there for used and look for ones that say “like new”. I’ve been pleasantly surprised getting many used books there that look like new.

How much can you expect to save by doing a little searching? Well, one semester I went online and think I got my books from Half.com. I recall my books being more than 50% of what I was going to pay used through my college. You should be able to save quite a bit. There are a couple online book store aggregators that will grab prices from the major retailers. Just do a Google search and you’re bound to find a couple good ones. You may also check your local news station website in the classifieds, Craig’s list or even a local thrift store (could be a long shot, but if you find what you’re looking for it may only be couple bucks) if you have time.

Think outside the box and you’ll find some great places online to reduce the cost of your education. Good luck finding some great priced textbooks for your online classes!

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