By Joseph Garcia–

After the first semester, students quickly realize that textbooks aren’t cheap; and with some professors requiring two, sometimes three books for a course, the bill can be in the hundreds of dollars.

Being a self-proclaimed frugal student myself, I’ve learned a few ways to beat the system at its own game.

Take time, do your research.

The University of Louisville Campus Store offers the option to “price match” their books with other competitors prices. Junior Hannah Shields, a team lead at U of L’s Bookstore, said “Less than 10 percent of all students who come through the store utilize our price match option.” 

Shields blames this on the fact that the price match policy is a bit strict and that many students don’t know about it. 

Be sure to read the policies online or ask the cashiers before buying.

Sift around the stacks at the local bookstore.

Even after you’ve done an hour’s worth of research online, it may still be best to check local bookstores around Louisville. 

Places like Half Price Books and Carmichaels are book havens.

Be sure to call before you walk into the store though to save yourself a drive. Most of the time, if you know the title of the book or it’s ISBN, the person on the phone can look it up through their system.

Other places to check are Ekstrom or the Louisville Free Public Library. See if you can find your books there and try to check them out for as long as possible.

If you can, buy your textbooks after the first week of classes. 

Some of us like to be extra prepared and have our textbooks a few days to a week before classes start. This isn’t always viable after paying tuition though. Try to read through posted syllabi and see what books you need for early readings. 

Buying books when you absolutely need them saves you from dropping a huge chunk of money early on in the semester.

Outsource to your peers. 

If you know someone who took a class you’re taking, ask what books are really required for the course. Also ask if they still have their old textbooks and if they would be willing to sell them to you for a much lower price.

Remember, just because the professor says a book is required, it doesn’t mean you’ll actually use it or need to buy it.

Save the Campus Store as a last resort. 

If all else fails, if it’s the cheapest option or if you need a book the day before class, the best option is usually the bookstore. 

While bookstore prices are usually higher than anywhere else, there are few times where it’s actually the best option.

If you must buy from the bookstore—RENT!

As we go into the Spring semester sit down and take some time to make a spreadsheet of all the cheapest options.

If you’ve already bought your books, hopefully you’ll remember these tips next year.

Graphic by Shayla Kerr / The Louisville Cardinal