With the fee hike meaning most new students are now paying £9,000 a year for their courses, it is a wonder why there are still hidden costs to studying. Aside for the cost of basic stationary, most courses have an extensive reading list comprised of expensive text books, adding a bill of up to £300 for course materials in addition to the fees. However, before you rush out to buy everything on your reading lists (most of which you honestly know you’re never going to open), here’s a few tips to help you save money on books, leaving you with more money for the other student essential – going out and getting drunk.
1. Wait until you start lectures start before deciding what the key textbooks you will need are. If you’re eager to be prepared before, email module conveners and ask them. Most courses come with an extensive reading list, but you may find a lot of it is non-essential to your course. Buy the basics, borrow the rest from the library or course mates.
2. Shop around online to gauge an idea of prices. Don’t head straight for Blackwell’s or Waterstones; a lot of online retailers sell the books you need at a reduced price, even when you have factored in the cost of postage and packaging (if there is one). Amazon and eBay are the obvious places to hunt online, but a quick search on Google reveals a whole host of other reputable second hand book sellers. Don’t be put off if books aren’t listed as new; often second hand books are as good as new. Some may have a few notes in, but who knows…you could find those very useful!
3. Take advantage of those in the year above you selling their books. Most courses have the same reading lists year after year. Adverts are often strategically place around your department or on Facebook groups related to your course. However, check prices online first – they might be looking to make their money back, and therefore may not be offering you the cheapest price on the market.
4. Make use of online resources. If you’re unsure how to use them, ask in the library, and someone will show you. Part of your fees may contribute to the university’s subscription to a large number of e-books, databases and journals, so make use of the resources available to you. You may find you only need one chapter in a given book, and if it is available as an e-book, it may be cheaper to print out the chapter. If you want to save money on printing, make notes from the screen. This may be more effective for your studies, as you’ll process the information, instead of highlighting chunks of text without really digesting the information.
5. Borrow books from the library – that’s what it is there for. Both libraries have an extensive collection of books related to your course. While more popular texts can only be loaned for a night from the Short Loans Section, there are plenty of alternative books that are of relevance, but not necessarily mentioned on your reading list. Undergraduate students can borrow up to fifteen books at one time, most on loan for two weeks at a time. Providing the book is not on hold, you can renew it up to twelve times, which is more than enough to cover a semester.
Hopefully these tips will help reduce the cost of your book bill and leave your with more money to spend on more desirable things. Don’t forget, once you’re finished with a book, you can try to sell it on to those taking the module in the following year, or online on Amazon or eBay, making you some of your money back.