10 tips when buying books second-hand

So you’re thinking of buying your books second-hand. Smart move.

Here are some tips I’ve put together to help you with your quest.

1. Check what edition the book is

Make sure the book is the edition you’re after. Some people may advertise their books as the “newest edition”, but it may not be in reality.

2. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to buy an older edition

It’s usually much cheaper to purchase older editions.

Sometimes the difference between textbook editions are very minimal. I’ve purchase older textbook editions before and compared it to the newest ones on the shelves. The content was almost exactly the same, just with different page numbers.

Of course – depending on the field you’re in, this may not be the case. Things change very quickly in some fields, so the textbook content may be very different.

Also – I’ve found that some lecturers work off the older textbook editions. In some of my lectures, they’ve included textbook references to the older editions instead of the new ones.

3. It also doesn’t hurt to buy a textbook that has been highlighted and scribbled on

Most people tend to go for second-hand books in “brand new condition”, but I prefer the ones that have been highlighted and scribbled in. I mean, the person has already done the work for you and highlighted the key points etc.

4. Ask for a deal if purchasing multiple books for the same buyer

There’s no harm in asking, and you’re doing them a favour by buying multiple books. It’s hard to sell textbooks!

5. Check postage times if you are buying online

On websites like Book Depository, it sometimes takes months for the books to ship to Australia. Make sure you check!

6. Shop around before you buy

Someone out there might be selling the same textbook for cheaper. Have a look at different places and sites.

Sometimes books from overseas is a viable and cheaper option. My friend found that on one occasion it was cheaper to purchase books from the UK. The postage and handling costs were lowers, and delivery times were faster.

Take some time to do your textbook research.

7. Check what the RRP (recommended retail price) is for the book

Sometimes the price difference between a brand new book and a second hand copy isn’t that big, so you may want to consider buying brand new if this happens.

8. Sometimes you can’t buy them second-hand

I wouldn’t recommend buying prac manuals second-hand because it’s likely that the content may have changed. And I’m not sure how much the reading packs/readers change from year-to-year either.

9. Look for an online copy

Online copies of books are much cheaper than hardcopy, and you don’t need to lug it around campus so it’s convenient. However, some people prefer purchasing a physical book (I am one of those people).

10. When buying your textbooks in person, meet somewhere public and swap mobile numbers.

My rule of thumb when buying a book off someone you don’t know is to meet somewhere public such as outside Baillieu Library, or opposite the information desk in Union House. You know, just in case.

And don’t forget to swap phone numbers just in case something comes up and one of you can’t make it, or if you can’t find the person at the meeting point.

– Daphane

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