(Shopping Period)LifeHacker: Should you buy that textbook?


When I saw the price of one of my textbooks in the bookstore, I had to slow down grab the wall. How can a few pieces of paper and cardboard possibly cost $375? For reference, that’s the cost of 750 ounces of fro-yo. There are rumors of classes with book lists running up to $700—I’m pretty sure you could buy a miniature horse with that kind of money. So should you actually shell out the dough for that textbook? Here’s a handy guide to help you find out:

1. Are you still shopping the class?
It seems like professors expect everyone shopping their class to have already bought the list of a dozen books on the syllabus by the first day (that is, if you don’t walk out halfway through). But if you’re not sure you’re going to take the course, definitely hold out.

2. Can you find the book online?
In one of my classes, my professor told us, “I’m not endorsing anything, but if you google the textbook, the first result may or may not be an entire PDF of it.” If the book is available as a handy downloadable file, there’s no need to spend money on some fancy sheets of paper.
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