Have you ever had that feeling called “sticker shock?” If not, you will when you see the price of a casebook. Not only do law students have casebooks to purchase for each course, but you’ll also purchase recommended books (in undergrad you may have gotten away without purchasing these, but in law school just consider recommended books as required) and supplemental books used to help connect the dots. Here are a few tips to help you keep textbook expenses down.
Order your books early to ensure that you have every book before they sell out at your local book store and to give yourself time to shop for the best prices. If you order early through your university, you can have a better pick for used books and you will likely receive a discount. Besides, if you are a law student, not only should you order early, you should be reading early, too!
Try to get your books for free. Sometimes you can find scholarships specifically for the purchase of books. Also, as applications decline for law school, some schools are providing incentives such as paying for textbooks for the first year. If your professor didn’t change the edition of the book from the previous year, ask an upperclassman to borrow their old book for the semester. Sometimes your law library will carry the recommended and supplement books, which you can check out for free (although you may not be able to rent it for the entire semester).
Get your books at discounted rates. Used books are a great option to keep your textbook expenses at a minimum. Again, if you shop early you can find used books at your school’s bookstore that are practically new. However, if you do purchase used books, don’t rely on highlighting and marginal notes during your reading – they could be wrong and you should be digesting the information yourself. Find used books online or in discount stores such as Half Price Books. If you work in a university bookstore during the busy season (first few weeks of the semester), you usually get benefits in addition to an hourly wage like discounts on your books.
Make the technological leap to eBooks. More and more books are released as eBooks and some textbooks also are rereleasing as eBooks. Publishers save money on “printing” these books and they pass the savings onto the consumer, allowing you to find the eBook version for a fraction of the price of the hardcopy/paperback equivalent. And, as an added bonus, you’ll have fewer books to lug around, removing the stresses on your lower back!