Getting Prepped and Spending that Cash: My MLIS Textbook Resources!

Yesterday I was happily surprised to find that the required reading list from my TWU courses have been posted! Now because I’ve been beyond excited to start school and because I’m partially crazy, back in June I did some research and found a pretty close match to what my required reading would be for the Fall semester based on what was required for this Summer semester students. After looking at the list accompanied with a few steep dollar signs I knew I had to turn to the ALA Think Tank Facebook group and ask them the following:

“For those of you with an MS in Library Science and an emphasis in academic librarianship, did you find your textbooks useful after graduating? I’m contemplating on renting a few; however, I’m completely open to buying them if they deem useful for years to come 🙂.”

Thankfully there were many librarians who chimed in with their advice and as an added bonus, with textbook resources! So, after doing some digging for this semester’s textbooks here are the resources I found most helpful as an online grad student:

  • Bookfinder.com– What, have I been living under a rock my whole life?! I can’t believe I’ve never heard of this before! Although the website isn’t very pretty, Bookfinder.com is a great search engine for book pricing. As you can see in the screenshot, by simply searching by ISBN #, Bookfinder pulls up an extensive amount of options, both new and used books, with prices arranged from least to greatest.

BookFinder example

While I enjoy using this as my first place to search for textbooks, I still recommend doing some more research because although it pulls up the least expensive options that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re showing you the most reliable copy. For instance, if your BookFinder search shows Amazon as the least expensive option keep in mind that although the book is being sold through the Amazon website it could be packaged and delivered through a third party seller and the copy could be in poor condition with tears and a ton of highlighting. So just be sure to do some further investigation of the condition of the book and whether or not the resource is truly reliable.

  • Google Shopping– Again, probably living under a rock here, but I have never used Google Shopping before searching for my MLIS textbooks. Although Google shopping didn’t provide as many options for purchasing my textbook I still found a cheaper option for at least one of my textbooks per their recommendation.

Google Shopping Example

Like BookFinder.com, be sure to check out the options provided and do a bit of investigating with the online stores they offer. Also, I noticed that Google Shopping also gave me quite a few resources that sold older editions of the book so for those who are alright with an older edition of your textbook I’d say this would be a great option for you.

  • Abebooks.com– A consistent source to buying affordable textbooks! Abebooks is like a cross between Chegg.com and a Barnes and Noble as they offer new, used, and rentals. Not only did a few librarians from the Think Tank recommend this site, but it constantly kept popping up on my BookFinder searches and I am confident that I will be purchasing 3 out of the 4 required books from them. I would say that Abebooks has officially come between my once strong and extremely dependent relationship with Chegg.com for the better.

AbeBooks Example

  • Amazon.com-As I’m sure you know, Amazon is an absolute MUST when searching for textbooks since they will most likely have very affordable prices in the new, used and now rental options, not to mention if it qualifies for prime shipping when you needed it like yesterday, it’s a no brainer. While I love Amazon and  while I did find some great prices, it seems that Abebooks beat them of price. Like I mentioned earlier, if you’re buying used be sure to check the third party seller reviews to make sure that you’re getting a book in good condition and that the book will be packaged carefully. I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to buy a used book in “very good” condition only to have it arrive bent and torn since it was shipped to me in a plastic envelope without bubble padding.

For those of you who are not in an online program and have access to your university library I highly recommend using Interlibrary Loan, otherwise known as ILL. If I lived close enough to campus to drop in this would’ve been my number one choice since you can use the textbook for the ENTIRE semester!

Well, that sums up this semester’s textbook bargain hunt! A special thank you to all of the wonderful ALA Think Tankers who gave wonderful advice to the youngins like myself. If you have any other affordable textbook resources please feel free to comment below!

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