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As an English Literature Student I have the same heavy heart every year I look at the seemingly endless lists of ‘set texts’, but don’t fear, I have gathered together the best ways of getting your reading lists and not paying full price, because lets face it- students never want to! If the thought of forking out for all those books is so daunting you don’t even know where to begin- this article should help. It is of course beneficial to have bought and read the books beforehand, but as I know all too well, this is sometimes unavoidable and you end up scrambling a few days before your seminar looking for the book you should have bought months ago! So stay smart, stay savvy and use these tips to help guide you to a stress-free book buying experience:
Charity Shops: This may seem obvious but it’s somewhere many students just don’t look, whether you think you’re too ‘posh’ to get rummaging in a charity shop or not, these can be the best ways to pick up some bargains. Charity shops, especially in student towns are a key way of finding those pre-loved books. In Lancaster, a personal favourite of mine is the Oxfam Book shop, and it includes academic titles too. I’ve bought many books for half the price of what they would be new, and even better- you are helping the charity along the way! Not only is there a range of charity shops in Lancaster town but there is one on campus: St Johns Hospice Shop. It may be tucked away, but this is another key shop to look in as it is convenient for past students to donate all their past books.
Online: This seems to be the most popular way of getting books cheaper- so long as you shop around! eBay and Amazon are hugely popular when it comes to buying textbooks, just as always when buying online, make sure it is the right book you are after! And always compare prices across the two sites; it pays to be savvy! These sites can also be a good way to sell your previous books, as this can widen your audience because many students all over the country need the same books.
Past students: Your degree subject’s page on Facebook can be a great way of not only advertising your old books, but you can also buy old books that other students are selling for very reasonable prices. So look out on these pages for past students selling/giving away their previously loved (or not so loved!) set texts. Again just beware that some courses change their set texts slightly so make sure you check to see that the books are still on the course!
FREE books: Yes, that’s right, I said free! If you own an e-Reader then this is also another great opportunity for you to grab some cheap books and even some freebies, a word that makes students’ ears prick up and take note! Especially for English Literature students, many older books whose copyright has expired can be downloaded for FREE onto your device.
ALWAYS carry your reading list in your bag, there is nothing more annoying when you are trying to look out for books but can’t for the life of you remember the author or the title! So just keep a copy in your bag, ready to whip out when you’re hunting.
Finally, you can of course buy your books new from some good book retailers, but I would ALWAYS recommend looking elsewhere first- and along the way who knows what other hidden treasures you might find!