College student back to school tips: Choosing the right textbook textbooksIt’s back to school and time to start thinking about purchasing those door stops — er, I mean textbooks! They are an investment in to education, so you want to make sure you have the right book, edition and year published that your college professor requires. Since buying textbooks is a college life right of passage, here are some student resources for purchasing the right textbooks.

Get your list of required books early

According to the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, colleges receiving federal funds must disclose the cost of textbooks to students before they register for courses that semester. This lets students know the cost of books and which books are required. The sooner you get the list, the more time you have to find it and to shop around for a good price.

In “Ithaca College encourages faculty to submit textbook lists sooner,” by Gerald Doherty, September 13, 2012: “The lack of information has affected students looking to budget themselves for the next semester. Junior Jennifer Snyder said she’s had several professors email her textbook information about a week before classes start, making it more difficult to find cheaper textbooks in a timely manner.”

Use International Standard Book Number (ISBN)

Every unique book carries its own thirteen-digit ISBN number. This commercial code identifies books, ebooks, paperbacks and hardcovers. Each edition and variation of a book has its own ISBN number. Some textbooks also come with an accompanying CD with homework assignments and interactive content. Only a reprinted edition of a book carries the same ISBN. For example: The original book was printed first in 2004, then a reprinted edition came out in 2010—but it has exactly the same text. When you purchase a reprinted edition, the text is always the same.

Using the ISBN makes it easy to find exactly the book you need. Match the ISBN number of the textbook on your required reading list with the book you want to buy or are searching for in an online catalog. This way you won’t get the wrong edition. “To assure that you choose the correct book edition, the ISBN number is your best bet,” according to ValoreBooks.

You’ll always be able to find just the right textbook at Shopping is easy because you can search for the book’s name, ISBN number or author. Using the ISBN is recommended as each book (including various editions and year published) matches with exactly one ISBN number. So you can’t go wrong.

Once you find the right book, find the right format

Using ISBN you should be able to find exactly the book you need. Then you can see what formats are available for your text. In the last decade or so, textbooks have been released with an electronic version that is suitable for use in class. You can usually even “Search” within your ebook, highlight and take notes. Plus one ereader is so much lighter than 5+ big textbooks to carry around!

More than just books at

At you can also search for free electronic companion content referenced in your textbook, as well as free access to academic websites. also has study tools, study guides, manuals and CourseMate, which provides tools that work with your textbook. is always “open;” there’s no wrangling college bookstore hours. The website also offers discounts of up to 65% on certain titles, free shipping on orders over $25, and ebook rentals while you wait for your printed copy to arrive and coupon codes for other cool offers.

Have you had any difficulty finding the right textbook for class this semester?

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *