If you're going into your first year of college, you may not know what textbooks you need yet. I know at Sweet Briar the first years do not register for classes until orientation. However, if you have registered for classes and you have access to the book list, I recommend you start searching for your books now instead of waiting to buy them at the school bookstore.
The college bookstore will be super expensive. They may only have new copies of the textbooks and they will charge full manufacturer price (or more!)
So in an effort to save you some money (maybe so you can buy a few more decorations or a new school bag), I'm going to give you some of my tips on the best ways to buy your textbooks while keeping some money in your wallet.
1. Using the textbook list from your college, gather the ISBN number for each book you need to purchase. Organize the list by class so you know exactly what you need.
These are the textbooks I needed to purchase for the Fall semester
2. Start searching on websites such as Amazon, Half, Chegg, Cheaptextbooks.com, Abesbooks, and Alibis to get the best price. I recommend making a spreadsheet and listing the cheapest price for each book.
You will have to decide if you want to buy new, buy used, or rent. I rarely buy brand new books. This semester I did buy a few brand new books, but that was because for my Spanish Literature class I needed three paperback novels and they were cheaper to buy brand new.
If you do choose to rent books, remember that you will not be able to make any money by selling them back at the end of the semester.
I usually choose to buy used books that are listed as "Like New" quality. Most of the time, the books are practically brand new and show no signs of wear.
3. Once you have decided where you are going to buy each book, your next task is to actually order them. If you are ordering your books this close to the start of the semester, I recommend having them sent directly to your PO box at school. They'll be there waiting for you when you arrive, and you don't have to worry about fitting a box of heavy books in your car.