School Book Advice

A friend asked me some advice on what books to get for school. Here is my school book advice:

I have thought a lot about books and tried various things. Here’s what I do these days.

I buy all the required reading at the very beginning of the semester from Amazon. I figure that I can sell it back on Amazon if I want to keep it and only lose a little bit. That strategy has worked out well… low stress and generally inexpensive. Only a few times have I been stuck with a book that has a new edition, thus devaluing my book greatly. I figure that if I am trying to save $100 by not getting a book, and that is getting in the way of a $70,000/year job, my priorities are in the wrong place!

To sell on Amazon: I generally match the lowest price and it usually sells within 2 weeks. I ship USPS “Media Mail” which is usually about $3-4 instead of $8-15 for Priority Mail. Pay for shipping online, wrap the package, then walk into the post office, CUT IN LINE, set the package on the counter and say “my package is all set. Thanks.”

After I’ve bought the book, I find a PDF version as a personal backup. I leave this on my computer, this has been very useful for me as I study during my long commute. There is some question as to the legality of having the paper book and a PDF backup but this definitely isn’t a settled matter.

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